India’s aviation sector is set for a major transformation as big players of the industry are looking to induct a record number of aircraft. With this, there will be a definite upswing in the demand of pilots across the airlines. Even as the industry looks for more candidates to fill in the vacancies, the government has said that it will not use the non-operational airstrips across the country for training pilots.
In a written reply in the Upper House of Parliament, Aviation Minister VK Singh said that there is no such proposal to use these airstrips for training purposes. At present, India has 35 Flying Training Organisations that are using 53 airbases to train pilots. The FTOs can only operate after the permission granted by the aviation watchdog – Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Aspirants who complete the course with required flying hours are granted Commercial Pilot Licence.
According to the government data, the DGCA had granted permission to 9 flying training organisations to operate from five airports in 2021. These were Lilabari in Assam, Jalgaon in Maharashtra, Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, Belagavi and Kalaburgi in Karnataka.
In 2022, six more FTOs were made operational at five AAI airports. These are located in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Karnataka.
While the government has maintained that there is no shortage of pilots in India, a 2022 report had stated that the country will need more than 1,000 pilots to be inducted in the sector annually. Experts have said that there is not enough infrastructure to train that many pilots. Last year, Singh had reiterated that there was no shortage of pilots in the country. The minister, however, had said that there were lesser numbers of ‘commanders’ for certain types of aircraft. To fill in the gap, foreign pilots were being used, the minister had said.