Air traffic control towers of airports like Delhi and Mumbai would soon see some old hands back in action.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI), which manages air traffic across the country, is inviting retired civil and defence air traffic controllers (ATCs) to come back. AAI is facing an acute shortage of trained controllers, especially at busy airports like Delhi and Mumbai, which handle around 700 flight movements per day.
An AAI spokesman said India had around 2,000 ATCs and at least 500 more were required. Nearly 200 ATCs work at Delhi but at least 300 are required.
Though AAI has been recruiting trainees for the last couple of years, it takes three-four years for a fresh recruit to be trained and given the responsibility of a radar controller (specialists who direct traffic flying to or from a major airport, by controlling planes approaching for a landing, departing from a takeoff, or overflying the terminal area).
The crunch is so acute that AAI is also falling short of trainers at its Civil Aviation Training College at Allahabad.
AAI is the only organization in India that recruits, trains and employs ATCs. AAI recruits people with a B.Tech or M.Sc (Electronics) degree for the job.
Though the number of domestic flights and international traffic has gone up over the last five years, the number of ATCs hasn’t. That is why the AAI is asking its retired officers and that of the Indian Air Force and navy, who are not older than 63 years, to join them for one to two years on contract.
These ATCs would be posted at airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad. Some of them would also be asked to train new recruits at the Allahabad-based training college.
“Applicants must be mentally and physically fit. We will decide on their assignments after we receive all applications,” an AAI spokesperson said.