Thursday, March 29, 2012

On a wing & a prayer for 3 years - License pangs dog flying cradle in capital, 28 wannabe pilots stare at another two-month delay

Vikas Kujur was pursuing civil engineering studies in 2009 when the state government decided to train tribal and other underprivileged youths as commercial pilots. The 24-year-old left his course midway and joined the promising program

Raj Kumar (26) was a probationary officer with State Bank of India. He, too, quit his job because he wanted to fly high

The two who had initially made different — and perhaps right — career choices three years ago, today share the same fate: a very uncertain future. 

Their wings have, ironically, been clipped by none other than a government that pledged pilot training, botched up cradle selection not once but twice, proposed a flying institute in the state and has been hobbling since to obtain the mandatory licence from Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). 

“Had I continued my studies, I would have become a civil engineer in 2011. I lost three precious years of my life in pursuit of a dream (commercial pilot) that should have taken only 10 months to realize,” said Vikas, a Lohardaga resident who was pursuing engineering at a Bhubaneswar college. 

Among the 29 boys and one girl who were handpicked by the government in early 2009 for the training, Vikas is not the only one to quit academics. Jagdeep Karmali from Khalari, Piku Tiu from Chaibasa and Divya Ekka from Ranchi were all studying engineering at BIT-Sindri, but decided to give passion a chance.

Two other youths among the group were a tad wiser. Ankit Lakra, a BIT-Mesra student, and Prakash Ekka from NIT-Patna returned to their respective cradles after they discovered in May 2010 that the Hyderabad-based flying institute selected by the state government to train them had run into trouble. 

“Sometimes I feel I’ve made a terrible mistake by joining a government program. Next moment, I console myself saying that my dream will take wing in a few more months. Maybe I am hoping against hope,” said Raj Kumar of Bokaro, who would have had a permanent bank job by now.

His feelings are not alien to any of the 28 youths still waiting — some of them at their makeshift home at Morabadi’s Tribal Research Institute — for resumption of the pilot program.

With the noble intention to offer free pilot training to 30 underprivileged youths, the state welfare department handpicked Hyderabad-based Spica Aviation Academy.

The aspirants who were sent to the cradle in March 2009 soon discovered that the flying cradle had no permission from the DGCA.

The government once again — and this time through an open tender — selected Bilaspur-based Sai Flytech to train the youths in November 2010. A year later, the trainees returned home because the DGCA cancelled the cradle’s license over irregularities. 

Having burnt its finger twice, the state decided to float its own cradle. The Jharkhand Flying Institute was proposed last year for resumption of training.

The school was to be set up in Ranchi with two Czech-made Zlin aircraft, three gliders and one twin-engine aeroplane for immediate training infrastructure. The state civil aviation department had also decided to rope in a private instructor. It perhaps only forgot the license.

“For four months, we have knocked every possible government door, urging officials to obtain the licence from DGCA and start our training. But our pleas have fallen on deaf years,” complained 29-year-old Harilal Bhagat of Lohardaga, who quit his job as a block program officer to train as a pilot. 

“I cannot hold back my age. If the training is delayed, I may find it difficult to get a job in any airline,” he added.

Sources in the civil aviation department said that the state had sent licence applications to the DGCA twice, but they were returned owing to either incomplete or improper documentation. A fresh request was made a month ago. 

“Getting licence for a flying institute takes time. The DGCA is, currently, verifying our infrastructure. We may get the license in a month or two,” said V.K. Singh, secretary, civil aviation. 

Fingers crossed.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.