New Delhi: With India facing a severe shortage of pilots, especially commanders, the government has extended permission for foreign pilots to work in Indian carriers by two years by shifting the deadline to phase them out from this year-end to December 31, 2020. India currently has 290 expat pilots in its total pool of over 7,000 pilots with desi airlines and the new 2020-end deadline fixed by DGCA is unlikely to be the final one as Indian carriers are inducting turboprops in large numbers for which there are not enough Indian pilots. In fact, the number of expat pilots here is expected to shoot in coming months.
“At present, schedule Indian airlines have over 7,000 pilots for their combined fleet of over 600 planes. This year itself the shortage is of over 250 pilots. Given the order books of our airlines, 1,100 aircraft are supposed join in 7-8 years that will require over 10,000 additional pilots,” said CAPA India head Kapil Kaul. These numbers are only for schedule airlines, with the pilot requirement for charters, regional connectivity players and private jets being separate.
Kaul added these are conservative estimates and the requirement of pilots may further increase when Indian carriers increase their wide body operations — with currently only Air India and Jet operating twin aisles. Vistara has placed an initial order for 6-10 wide bodies and this number expected to increase from the Tata Group airline alone significantly in coming time.
27/07/18 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India