Sunday, January 7, 2018

Phased out expatriate pilots: Directorate General of Civil Aviation plans to seek numbers

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued draft amendments to rules for licensing of foreign pilots by domestic airlines, and as per the proposed rules, the regulator plans to ask the air operators to state the number of expatriate pilots phased out by them. While the foreign aircrew temporary authorisation (FATA), for which the draft rules have been made public, is issued temporarily to overcome the shortage of trained senior pilots in the country, the government is also moving towards reducing the dependency of foreign pilots.

Last month, in a response to a question in Parliament, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said that four airlines — Air India Express, Alliance Air, Jet Airways, and IndiGo — collectively phased out 84 foreign pilots during 2017. However, as of December 1, 2017, there were around 249 foreign pilots employed by various domestic airlines. “All the operators/ airlines have been directed to develop their in-house strength to minimise the dependency on expatriate pilots,” Sinha had said in his response, adding that operators train and upgrade the Indian pilots they induct to reduce the number of expats.

As per the current rules, initially, a FATA is issued to a pilot for a period of three months, after which, if an extension is required, the foreign pilot will be required to pass Air Regulations examinations, and upon passing that exam, the authorisation will be extended “for a period of nine months or as decided by Director General subject to the overall policy of the Government”. The draft norms propose to amend the nine-month extension to “a maximum period of one year at a time or as decided by Director General subject to the overall policy of the Government”.

Furthermore, compared with the original civil aviation requirement for validation of foreign licences of flight crew — in which the regulator stipulated minimum flying experience for co-pilots apart from that for flight commanders — the proposed rules only state the experience requirements for pilots in command for various aircraft types such as wide-body, narrow-body, turbo-props, helicopters, etc. Notably, unlike the existing norms, the draft rules also have a separate category for balloon pilots.

While airlines in India hire expatriate pilots to meet the shortage of trained senior pilots, it is considered to be an expensive proposition for the companies, considering foreign pilots are paid more than their local counterparts. The prevalent DGCA norms also stipulate each airline a limited number of foreign pilots on their roster for a limited period, till such a time they are able to train and upgrade the Indian pilots to replace the expats.

Original article can be found here ➤

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