Lakhimpur: The Lilabari Airport of Lakhimpur district, under the Airport Authority of India (AAI), will soon be a world-class aviation training hub with an aviation training academy. It is indeed good news for the entire north-eastern region. As the first step, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) of Lilabari Airport signed a land lease agreement with Red Bird Aviation Private Limited of New Delhi on June 30 for a Flying Training Organization (FTO). The land lease agreement was signed by Learoyd Williams, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) on behalf of Red Bird Aviation Private Limited, with the high-level officials of AAI of Lilabari Airport. According to the agreement, an area of 3,500 square metre land of the Airport was leased to the Red Bird Aviation Private Limited for the Red Bird Flight Training Academy. This aviation academy will be India’s seventh and the first aviation academy of the entire north-eastern region.
According to the report from the Ministry of Civil Aviation, India is set to get 8 new flying training academies under the liberalized Flying Training Organization (FTO) policy of the Airports Authority of India. The Aviation Academy at Lilabari Airport is proposed to be set up under the FTO policy. The rest of the academies will be set up at Belagavi, Jalgaon, Kalaburagi, Khajuraho and three other places. The set-up of these 8 FTOs is aimed at making India a global flying training hub and to prevent the exodus of Indian cadets to foreign FTOs. Additionally, these FTOs will also be designed to cater to the flying training requirements of cadets in India’s neighbouring countries.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has successfully managed to finalize the bidding process for the FTOs amid the challenging period caused due to the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic. These five airports have been carefully chosen since they have minimal disruption due to weather issues and civil military air traffic. This initiative will help the Indian flying training sector in becoming more self-sustaining under the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative.
The AAI invited bids for the same in November, 2020. The award letters were issued on May 31, 2021 to winning bidders: Asia-Pacific, Jetserve, Redbird, Samvardhane and Skynex. The parameters set for prospective bidders included familiarization with aviation safety aspects, regulatory mechanisms, experience in the field of training pilots on manned aircraft, the availability of equipment and trainers. To make FTOs attractive for bidders, AAI reduced the minimum annual rental significantly to Rs.15 lakh. Furthermore, the concept of airport royalty was scrapped to make these ventures business-friendly, the report stated. Redbird Aviation Private Limited is the first aviation academy of the nation recognized and approved training partner by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). It was established on January 13, 2017 with an aim to provide world-class training facilities to channelize and craft one’s career.