Wings students’ future hits air pocket, loan woes mount

Hyderabad: Tension inside Wings Aviation Pvt Ltd’s damp Begumpet office was palpable on Tuesday afternoon. A small group of students sat in silence — each of them wearing a distressed look.
“I have taken a bank loan of Rs 15 lakh for this course. If I am unable to complete it and find a job, the burden of it will fall on my family,” said 27-year-old Narender Rao*, speaking to TOI a day after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) suspended the academy’s Flying Training Organisation (FTO) licence, necessary to train pilots. The 18-month course here costs Rs 20 lakh.
The DGCA move comes in the wake of the October 6 incident where a Cessna 172 trainer aircraft belonging to Wings Aviation crashed in Vikarabad district, leaving two pilots dead.
“I come from a family of farmers. I wanted to break that mould and become a pilot. So, I came to the city from Visakhapatnam and decided to fund the training myself. Now, if the academy shuts down, what will I do? How will I repay my loan?” said Rao, who has just completed 20 hours of flying. Candidates must have about 200 hours under their belt to get a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) – mandatory to seek employment as a pilot.
Like him, there are many others from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala enrolled with the academy, which has 60 students in its current batch. Some, like the deceased Amanpreet Kaur, are also from north India.
16/10/19 Sudipta Sengupta/Times of India

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