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The dogfight for pilots

There are not enough pilots to fly all of us even now. In ten years, there will be a crisis. There are more than 25 flying clubs in India. But there's only one pilot training academy of international standard - the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Academy in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2006 23:32 IST

There are not enough pilots to fly all of us even now. In ten years, there will be a crisis. There are more than 25 flying clubs in India. But there's only one pilot training academy of international standard ­ the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Academy in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh. It churns out about 40 commercial pilot's license (CPL) holders every year. That's after the brand new CPL holder has spent Rs 20 lakh. But it doesn't end there. Typically, it takes a new pilot at least a year of flying before he is eligible to be a co-pilot. Then it takes another five years, at least 2,500 hours of flying, and Rs 25 lakh before he gets a commander's license and charge of a passenger aircraft.

India has around 3,000 active professional pilots. Within the next five years the industry will need 4,500 more. The crisis is getting worse with airliners having to ground flights because of shortage of pilots. As a stop gap measure foreign pilots, who come attached with astronomical salariy demands of Rs 5 lakh per month, compared to the Rs 2-3 lakh per month presently offered to Indian pilots, are flying Indian planes.

Experts feel airlines should set-up their own pilot training academies to meet the burgeoning needs. The government is also planning to set up a National Flying Training Institute at Gondia, Maharashtra. But till now, only a token provision of Rs 100 crore has been made in the financial year 2005-06. A detailed project report is being drafted.

First Published: Nov 16, 2005 19:37 IST