Thursday, July 28, 2016

AI gets more dreamliners but who's going to fly them?

Mumbai: Even as Air India is seeking a Rs 1,500 crore loan from financial institutions to fund the purchase of two more Boeing 787 Dreamliners, it has emerged that the national carrier may not be able to ensure that the aircraft remains airborne, especially given the dearth in the number of pilots in their service. The airline is short of about 30 pilots trained to fly the Dreamliner.

"Even though there was a recruitment freeze till some time ago, there are certain other flaws in the policy followed by the carrier which prevents a pilot's career progression and thereby affects the recruitment process as a whole," said a pilot in the carrier's employ.

Each Boeing aircraft requires about eight to nine sets of pilots per aircraft to ensure smooth everyday operation. But with a fleet strength of 21 (including the two to be delivered) Boeings, Air India is able to manage an average flying time of only 11 to 12 hours per day as against the Boeing recommended average of 14 to 16 hours.

A pilot set comprises of a commander and a first officer or co-pilot. The national carrier currently employs close to 140 trained commanders and around 150 trained first officers.

For now, however, Air India is focussed on the immediate problem, which is to secure a loan for part funding the induction of the two aircrafts scheduled for deliver in November and December.
28/07/16  Aditya Anand/Mumbai Mirror
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