Here is some good news for the civil aviation sector. Come 2009, the industry will get 100 new pilots every year. The Punjab government has paved the way for two pilot training academies one each at Amritsar and Ludhiana. This will come as big relief to the sector hit by acute shortage of trained pilots.
India, as per government estimates will require nearly 6,000 pilots in the next five years keeping in view the number of aircraft different airlines will induct in the same period.
The department of civil aviation, Punjab government floated global bids from parties interested in running any of these two schools. “We will go through the expressions of interest soon. The winning bidder (s) will then be asked to put in their financial bids; the process would be completed soon,” Viswajeet Khanna, secretary department of civil aviation said. “We want the first batch of 100 commercial pilot license holders to walk out of these academies by the end of next calendar year,” he said. The academies will be set up be near the existing airports.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has approved 43 flight training schools. The government has 12 such institutes of which produce far less number of pilots than is required by the industry.
Nearly all airlines, barring erstwhile Indian Airlines (now Air India, post merger) have hired foreign pilot to operate their fleet. “There is no other option but to hire foreign pilots, or else we will have to ground our fleet, till such time we find pilots,” an Air-India official said which has 117 foreign or expatriate pilots operating their fleet.
Kingfisher has 96 foreign pilots; Jet Airways has 200, while GoAir has 77.