EDUCATION PLUS

CPL may still not fetch pilots a job

Do your homework: A training session in progress at a flight training academy. -

Do your homework: A training session in progress at a flight training academy. -   | Photo Credit: Photo: Shaju John

ANANTH KRISHNAN

Many flight schools in the country are only looking to cash in on students and do not provide the kind of training national carriers look for when hiring new hands.

Ever dreamt of becoming a pilot? Here’s the good news: It’s never been easier to acquire the necessary qualifications. In less than nine months, you could get yourself a Directorate General of Civil Aviation-approved Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) from a flight school.

Here’s the not-so-good news: You could, however, also find it impossible to get hired by a reputed air carrier and find yourself settling for a charter gig in Africa.

With a booming aviation industry, Indian air carriers will be looking to recruit more than 3,000 pilots in the next two years. A burgeoning number of flight schools have sprouted up across the country to capitalise on the rush for pilots. Many of them, however, are only looking to cash in on students and do not provide the kind of training national carriers look for when hiring new hands.

“New flight schools are mushrooming all over the place and are churning out people, but we really do not know whether they even end up being hired by airlines,” says D. Sudhakara Reddy, President, Air Passengers Association of India (APAI).

Choosing a school

So how do interested students decide if a potential school is credible? Mr. Reddy advises that students ensure that an institution is DGCA-approved and verify if the institution has been licensed by local government authorities Students should also ensure that the flight school has qualified instructors who have significant experience in civil aviation – many schools hire former army officers who have limited experience in the air, or even former commercial pilots who have lost their licences for violations.

The premier flight academy in the country is the Government-run Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Academy (IGRUA) in Uttar Pradesh.

The Madras Flying Club is the only DGCA-approved flight school in Chennai, according to the DGCA website. Its chairman, Jacob Selvaraj, says more than 30 per cent of students who go abroad to find short-cuts in getting a CPL end up without jobs.

“Most international and domestic carriers will test pilots before they hire them,” he says. “If they see that a candidate cannot handle himself well enough, they will not hire him.”

The MFC’s course, like IGRUA’s, takes around one and a half years to complete. The course offers classroom instruction for four months, followed by 200 hours of flying experience in MFC’s airfield campus in Vellore.

Many of the newer flight schools graduate students in less than eight months. Since the DGCA only requires students to have completed their Plus Two in Maths and Physics for their CPL, with eight-month courses students will barely be twenty years old when they take up their seats in aircraft cockpits – a situation former commercial pilot Capt. A. Ranganathan is not comfortable with.

“It is a matter of concern than a 19 year old with no experience can sit on the right seat of a high performance jet,” he says. “In other countries, airlines will at least make sure there is a long drawn out process of training.”



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