The rapidly growing demand for pilots in country combined with the alleged government “apathy” in facilitating training has led to the mushrooming of private flying schools in Delhi, some operating even from small houses.

According to aviation experts, the Indian flight training sector is facing a huge demand and supply irregularity of commercial pilots. Key stakeholders in the flight training market are airline in-house training centers, independent flight training schools and flight simulator manufacturers. But in the alleged absence of any particular government focus on the training of pilots, the Indian aviation sector has been left in limbo.

Ashwani Mahapatra, former Flight Operation Inspector (FOI) of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), said: “Independent flight training schools are packaging their training courses to make it more affordable these days. This has sparked a new trend among those who can afford the training. We can see a greater number of leisure pilots mushrooming in the major cities in India.”

The Institution for Aviators (IFA), a pilot training institute which is being run in South-west Delhi’s Dwarka area, claims on its portal that the institute has provided over hundred pilots. But a student who has previously graduated from the institute revealed, “Most of the graduates from the institute hardly receive any ground staff crew work.” 

“I graduated from the institute in 2016 and since then I am looking for a job here in the aviation sector, but unfortunately I have not received an offer yet. While at the time of admission, the Institute had promised to provide placement and a commercial pilot licence, when I completed my course the promises were not kept,” a student of IFA said on the condition of anonymity. When The Sunday Guardian approached the IFA, the institute refused to talk on the issue. However, there are institutes in the same area which have provided good placements, but not as a pilot. Most of the graduates from these institutions have been pushed into the ground or cabin crew handling work as they were found unskilled for working as pilots.

Sandeep (name changed), who graduated last year from the International Flying Institute (IFI), lost his dream of becoming a pilot as he could not pass the scrutiny test carried out by the DGCA, “The DGCA disqualified me saying that my flying experience is not in accordance with their guidelines. Since then, I am working as ground crew staff.”

“There is a strong need for better enforcement of regulations by aviation authorities to ensure that independent flight training schools maintain a high quality standard, thus producing higher quality pilots.  Sometimes, these independent flight training schools do not have enough flying slots and resort to move elsewhere to remote airports,” Mahapatra said. “Airline in-house flight training centers and independent flight training schools are positioning strategically to increase the supply of pilots that will graduate and be licenced annually. However, they still do not produce sufficient number of pilots to meet the growth of airplane fleet size in India. Currently, the number of pilot vacancies in airlines is greater than available in-country and expatriate pilots,” Mahapatra added.

“According to a study conducted by the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Asia-Pacific mandates training at least 16,000 people annually for fulfilling the need of pilots in India. Interestingly here, the DGCA issues only around 900 pilot licences each year,” a senior IndiGo official said.

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