After rejecting nearly a fourth of its candidates — type-rated pilots certified to fly Airbus — invited for the ‘senior trainee pilot’ post on the grounds that they failed the psychometric test, Air India is now looking for holders of a commercial pilot licence, not specialising in a particular aircraft type, to fill the vacancies, a senior Air India official has told FE.
The airline, which has a mandate to hire 197 pilots for its Airbus fleet, had earlier invited only type-rated pilots for the vacancies. About 260 candidates made it to the first round of a simulator proficiency test, and 160 of them were chosen for an interview and psychometric test, the final hiring step. The carrier finally selected 78 pilots after they successfully completed the final round.
Type-rated pilots are those certified to fly a certain aircraft type, which requires training beyond the scope of the initial licence.
“The airline will now invite holders of commercial pilot licence (CPL) for the vacancies in its airbus fleet. It will begin advertisements for it by the beginning of next month,” the senior official said.
However, CPL holders who participate in the recruitment process will have to face a tougher interview schedule.
While the type-rated pilots had to complete a simulator proficiency assessment check (SPAC) and an interview that included a psychometric test, the CPL holders applying for the position will have to undergo four rounds of interviews and tests. This will include a proficiency test, psychometric test, aptitude test and finally an interview.
“The plan was to hire at least 10 commanders and fill the rest of the vacancies with type-rated pilots. However, we couldn’t get commanders to join us. Now we will give an opportunity to CPL holders to fill the required vacancies,” the senior official said.
The national carrier, one of the first in the world to include a psychometric test in the process of hiring pilots, is contemplating regular psychometric tests for existing pilots after the recent incident of a Germanwings co-pilot crashing his flight deliberately into the French Alps, killing all 150 on board. Air India currently has 1,464 pilots in its ranks while its fleet consists of about 110 aircraft.
“The regulator (DGCA) is currently framing guidelines to check the mental health of pilots so that incidents like Germanwings don’t occur in India. However, the airline is also considering the idea to frame its own rules, tests and guidelines if DGCA doesn’t come out with its guidelines quickly,” the official said.
Currently, pilots at commercial airlines are not under compulsion to take psychometric tests even though they have to undergo medical checks, which include complete examination of eye, ear, nose, throat, heart (ECG), every six months. A complete body check is also conducted for pilots every two years, which includes an ultrasound scan of all vital organs and a treadmill test.
“The mental health of pilots is extremely important to us. The recent incident has proved that we can’t take the matter lightly,” the senior official added.