While the rest of the world is deeply concerned with the issues of flight safety and pilot training – especially in the aftermath of recent airline disasters that claimed hundreds of lives – India is reportedly giving out flying certificates to trainee pilots after less than an hour of flying experience.
Many airline pilots in the South Asian country have apparently obtained their flying licenses on the basis of false, overstated flying hours and ground training, according to a report by Bloomberg. These young pilots train for less than an hour in the air before they are deemed capable of flying hundreds of people to their destinations.
The report that has raised concerns over India’s aviation program cites a case of one such pilot, Anupam Verma, whose flying license and certificate claim 360 hours of experience – even though he had only spent 35 minutes in the co-pilot's seat as part of “air-experience” flight.
“What if I was flying and had an emergency? I wouldn’t even know how or where to land,” said the 25-year-old who had enrolled in the Indore flying school in December 2009. “We’d kill not only the passengers, but we might crash in a village and kill even more people.”
Verma is just one of the dozens trainee pilots who were given a massive subsidy – approximately $44,000 – by the Indian government to train as a commercial pilot and to join one of the country’s ever-expanding budget airlines. These airlines have not only increased demand for pilots, but have also sparked a price war, as some of them offer base fares as low as two cents.
It’s also pertinent to mention that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration recently restored India aviation safety rating back to the top category after downgrading it last year on concerns over insufficient manpower and fake certification.