• DGCA circular likely to affect pilot training on hold till September

    A Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) circular which would have severely crippled the expansion plans of airlines that send their pilots abroad for training was kept in abeyance at the eleventh hour after affected carriers raised an alarm with the director general and alleged conflict of interest. The controversial circular, which was to come into force on Saturday , was temporarily held back by DGCA on Friday evening.

    By then, however, certain airlines, anticipating its implementation, had cancelled the training slots they had booked for pilots at centres abroad for the months of May and June.With no new slots available at the centres for the next 7-8 weeks, the training schedules of at least 60 pilots from six carriers have been hit.

    Currently, Indian domestic passenger traffic growth is at a global high of 21%. The number one problem facing the Indian airline industry today is pilot shortage, as an average of 4-5 passenger aircraft are imported each month, which means a demand for 40-50 trained co-pilots and commanders every 30 days. It was in such a scenario that on February 1, the DGCA chief flight operations inspector (CFOI), Capt Ajay Singh, issued a circular which, among other things, made it mandatory for overseas pilot training facilities to be inspected and certified by DGCA flight operations inspectors for their training to be recognised in India. Currently, these facilities, being located in International Civil Aviation Organisation member countries like the UK, US, UAE, Singapore etc, are inspected by their own aviation regulators and the DGCA recognises their certification.

    The circular would have hit all Indian carriers other than Jet Airways and Air India, as these two have their own in house pilot training facilities with aircraft simulators etc.The rest, like IndiGo, SpiceJet, Vistara, Air Asia, Go Air, Blue Dart, Air Costa, TruJet, and Quick Jet Cargo send all their pilots abroad to train.

    “The circular in effect says India cannot trust the certifications done by the aviation regulators of the US, the UK, Singapore, Europe etc,” said an airline official, requesting anonymity . After the circular was issued, the airlines con cerned started doing rounds to the DGCA offices to get inspectors to fly to these countries to certify the simulators.”But in the place of about a dozen simulators, only a couple of simulators were certified by the DGCA till April end. So airlines cancelled the training slots they had in the rest of the simulators as the circular was to be enforced from April 30,” said a source.

    The slow pace of inspection alarmed the carriers, which took the matter to the director general. A day before the circular was to come into effect, on order from the director general, the circular was put on hold till September. “Had the director general not temporarily revoked this circular, these carriers would have suffered huge losses as the aircraft would have come in, but pilots could not have been trained to fly them,” an official said.

    Every month, over 60 candidates are sent abroad by Indian carriers to train as copilots, commanders, instructors, examiners etc. The director general was not available for comment. Capt Singh, when contacted, said, “This is a circular issued with the approval of the DG.”

    Another contentious condition imposed by the circular was that ground training and exams should be carried out in India, though ground and simulator training go hand-in-hand. “Imagine the trouble we would have gone through with split training,” said an airline official requesting anonymity. Ted Ginn Jr Womens Jersey

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