Next time you fly, don’t necessarily expect a 30-something man to call the shots inside the cockpit. With the age graph dipping in this particular profession, it is possible that the pilot will be some teenager, with a tattoo on his/her back and who is still not permitted to celebrate his/her first flight with a drink later on. But make no mistake, these 18-somethings are as thorough with their work as any experienced pilots and have earned their degree.
Explains BC Gupta, director and chief instructor at the Centre for Civil Aviation and Training, “Earlier, since the infrastructure was not upto the mark, the trainees used to take more than two years to complete the course, the eligibility age was reduced from 23 years to 17 years. But now, an aspiring pilot can complete the two-year-long course in minimum one year in India. But if the same student goes to Miami, USA, or Canada, he can complete the same course in about nine months flat and have the Commercial Pilot License (CPL) in hand.”
An industry insider says on the condition of anonymity, “There is no question of age in aviation industry now. More and more commercial carriers are opening up to recruiting younger pilots to ensure lower attrition rate. Considering pilots from other countries have outnumbered Indian pilots here, Indians carriers are keen on inducting Indian pilots, no matter how young they are.”
11/01/07 Nikhila Pant/Times of India