Thursday, December 02, 2021

Hope flies high: DGCA issues highest ever number of commercial pilot licences this year

New Delhi: The pandemic may have crippled aviation but it has not clipped the wings of wannabe aviators.

India will issue its highest ever number of commercial pilot licences (CPL) in a calendar year in 2021.

Till November 23, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had issued 756 CPLs and with over a month to go, the year will end at a higher number.

The previous high, 744, was seen in pre-pandemic 2019, with the figure falling to 578 last year due to lockdowns.

"The pandemic has seen airlines lay off pilots, slash their salaries and delay payments. Yet that did not dampen the spirits of budding pilots, despite the steep cost of training to become a pilot. The general feeling is that the pandemic will someday be over, travel will be back, people will fly and pilots needed,” said a senior official about the record-setting 2021.

Krishnendu Gupta, director of the government-run Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi (IGRUA) near Lucknow, told TOI he saw tremendous interest in choosing this path during the pandemic 2021.

“Every year there are some candidates from the selected list who do not turn up to join the CPL course and we have to turn to names in the first and second standby lists. This year everyone on the merit list turned up to join the course and we did not have to go to the standby lists. I am told other flying training organisations (FTO) had the same experience this year,” Gupta said.

He added that it takes about two years to earn a CPL with the cost ranging from Rs 37-38 lakh to Rs 47 lakh for the course fee.

A CPL from government-run IGRUA costs Rs 45 lakh. The share of DGCA CPLs being issued to cadets from foreign FTOs has decline this year due to continuing international travel restrictions. The share of DGCA CPLs issued to those trained at Indian FTOs is the highest-ever this year.

Gupta says the overall cost of pilot training till type rating (training to fly a particular type of aircraft like Airbus 320 or Boeing 737) costs about Rs 75 lakh for some who has done CPL in India. This cost is over a crore from someone doing CPL from abroad.

02/12/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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