Finding discrepancies in its records, the aviation safety regulator has barred Air India’s pilots’ training centre from conducting simulator training.
Commercial airline pilots are taught flying on passenger jets of their choice as their experience at the flying school is limited to operating small aircraft such as Cessna 72. At the AI facility, the training is given on Airbus320, which is the most popular aircraft in the domestic airlines’ fleet.
According to sources, the action was taken after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) found that many pilots, who got their type rating certificates from the AI facility, had fudged simulator entries.
Last year, the airline had ordered an inquiry against three of its pilots. While two of them were instructors, a junior pilot was found to be missing from the facility on the date entered in the record book. The two of them were taken off roster for a short while, but were reinstated even before the inquiry was over.
Air safety experts said that the development exposed loopholes in the country’s establishment. “This shows that several pilots flying passengers flights in the country are not adequately trained. Simulator training is the only way pilots could be trained on dealing with mid-air emergencies,” said an air safety expert, requesting anonymity.
The AI spokesperson did not respond to HT’s calls and a query sent to them on email. DGCA chief Arun Mishra was also not available for comment.
Sources added that the clampdown would also mean big revenue losses for the loss-making national carrier. “The centre earns up to Rs35 lakh by training a fresh flying school graduate. But the lucrative revenue stream is shut now,” said a senior airline official requesting anonymity.