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Shortage of pilots: AI to hire fresh graduates for training

Purvita Chatterjee

Scheme to ensure those trained stay with airline for 5 to 7 years

Mumbai , June 18

In a bid to tide over the shortage of pilots, Air India will be shortly recruiting fresh science and engineering graduates to be trained as pilots.

"The board of Air India has approved this, and we will shortly come out with a scheme," Mr V. Thulasidas, Chairman and Managing Director, Air India, told Business Line.

Flying aptitude test

He said the airline would hire in batches about 100-200 graduates after a flying aptitude test. These graduates will be trained at least for six months at flying institutes abroad. The airline is now scouting for suitable training institutes.

Mr Thulasidas said the training scheme being worked out would ensure that the trained pilots would work for Air India for at least five to seven years, though he did not like to call it an employment bond.

Training costs

Though details are yet to be worked out, the scheme may also have provision for Air India to recover at least part of the training cost from the pilots during their employment with the airline.

The cost of training, till the candidates get the commercial pilot licence (CPL) is estimated to be about Rs 25-30 lakh per pilot. Normally, it takes 2-3 years to get a CPL, as it involves six months ground training plus minimum 250 hours of flying.

Air India has decided to go in for a short-cut as it wants to ensure enough trained pilots to fly its new fleet of 68 aircraft, which would be inducted from November this year.

Air India also has arrangement with the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Udan Academy for training pilots. Mr Thulasidas said the airline would be associated with the proposed pilot training and aircraft maintenance facility proposed to be set up by Boeing in India.

Air India and all other airlines in the country have been facing shortage of pilots for long. The national carrier has, in fact, started recruiting foreign pilots last year.

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