• New plane gives flying school enough tailwind

    In the hangar of the Government Flying Training School (GFTS) in Jakkur, one aircraft stands apart from the vintage Pushpak and Tiger Moth. A spanking new Cessna-172S, the first aircraft the school acquired after it reopened in 2012, seems to signal the resurrection of this flying school.

    The school is now making do with three aircraft -one Cessna-172P Skyhawk and two Cessna-152 -all of which are over 35 years old. It has 31 students and could not admit more because of the Directorate Geeneral of Civil Aviation (DGCA) rule that requires a student, instructor, aircraft ration of 10:1:1. With the new aircraft, the school can now hire an additional instructor and also raise its student strength to 40, a figure last achieved a decade ago.

    The school, the only fully government-owned one in the whole of souther n India, was established on March 26, 1949 on 216 acres of land that was earmarked for the Jakkur aerodrome by the Maharaja of Mysuru before Independence. It remained shut from 2007 as the government did not appoint a chief flight instructor.

    Captain Amarjeet Singh Dange, who took over as the chief flight instructor (CFI) in November 2012 and pressed for the purchase of the new Cessna, hopes to augment his fleet with another aircraft in the next financial year. “That will also probably be a Cessna as the school has a setup for Cessna aircraft. Buying a Cirrus, Tecnam or a Diamond would involve building a new setup for them,” Capt Dange said. Since he took over, the new CFI had a modern Air Traffic Control constructed for the school.

    The additional advantage of the new aircraft, bought at a cost of `3.34 crore, is its glass cockpit with digitised controls, as opposed to the older ones which have manual controls. “Since the industry uses digitised controls today, we get trained on both types of machines which is a great exposure,” said Kaavya R, who is studying for her Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) on a scholarship.

    She is among the first batch of students who joined in August 2013 after the school reopened.

    The school charges `10,000 per hour of flying training per student.The total cost of the course could come up to approximately `20 lakh, considering the mandatory 200 hours of flying required before one obtains a CPL. The school receives an annual grant of `1 crore from state government.

    Fortyeight-year-old Krishna Durba, who is studying for his licence, says, “Yes, the school was shut for some time but now it is open and fully functional.” A. J. Cann Jersey

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