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Air Force proposes aeronautical engg college in Bangalore

Our Bureau

Gandhinagar , Nov. 5

TO overcome the shortage of quality aeronautical engineers, the Indian Air Force has proposed to set up an engineering college that would feed the growing requirement of the country's defence forces and produce officers who could later be absorbed by the booming civil aviation sector.

"We have proposed to set up an aeronautical engineering institute at Jalali at Bangalore. We are finding it difficult to attract quality talent into the IAF. If we pick up 10+2 students and train them for four years, we feel that we will not only get better engineers but also be able to cut down our training cost," the chief of air staff, Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy, said here on Friday.

The Army and Navy already have dedicated engineering colleges that take in officer cadets after 10+2 and train them in their respective trades. The Air Force believes that the proposed academy would, at a later stage, fulfil the needs of the civil aviation sector as "able-bodied" officers retire at an employable age and can be absorbed outside.

"We have about 200 vacancies for engineers each year and we get over 12,600 applications. Unfortunately, only half of the applicants are able to clear the basic engineering knowledge test and out of that, barely 5 per cent get recommended by the SSB (Services Selection Board). Some candidates ultimately don't join.

"Over the years, we liberalised our selection criteria. But now we realise that quality, not quantity is our problem and we hope that the proposed academy would address that need," the Air Chief said.

About the achievements of the Indian Air Force, he said that the IAF has recently broken the world record of high-altitude flying by landing a `Cheetal' helicopter, which is basically a `Cheetah' chopper with a new engine, at 25,000 feet in the Laddakh region.

Buoyed by the success, the IAF has proposed to convert its `Siachen Pioneers' squadron of Cheetah helicopters to Cheetal choppers and placed an order with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for 12 new aircraft.

"The Cheetal is basically a Cheetah with an engine borrowed from the indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH). We found that the new helicopter was more fuel-efficient, could carry a greater payload and was less noisy while operating at high altitude. These attributes make it ideal for the kind of operations our chopper unit based at Leh undertakes," the air force chief said.

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