DGCA sets up panel to study a faster, cheaper pilot training programme

NEW DELHI: India is studying an alternate method of training commercial pilots that requires less hour of flying a training aircraft — hence lowering costs for aspiring aviators — and more in simulators. 

Director General of Civil Aviation chief Arun Kumar has set up an internal panel to study the pros and cons of this “multi crew pilot license” (MPL) system. About 60 countries, like EU nations, Singapore, Japan and UK have already adopted UN aviation arm International Civil Aviation Organisations’ (ICAO) MPL standards.

Recently a number of international organisations met aviation authorities in India, requesting it to consider the MP which also allows quicker shifting between different types of planes, like from a Boeing 737 to an Airbus A320.

“We are examining the MPL system of training pilot with an open mind. Arun Kumar has set up a five-member panel which will submit its report in a month. MPL has been validated by US regulator Federal Aviation Administration’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program. On an average wannabe pilots from India spend Rs 200 crore annually at flying schools abroad. MPL focuses more on flying in simulator than actual flying in a small training aircraft while a wannabe pilots earns his or her licence,” said a senior official.

MPL theoretically could lead to investors in India setting up simulators to train student pilots and lessen the need for aspiring aviators to go abroad. However, the DGCA will tread with utmost caution while deciding on adopting this system. “As of now, a trainee pilots needs to do about 200 hours of flying in a small single and then twin engine plane to earn his or her commercial pilot licence. Under MPL, the training will include 30 to 40 hours of flying a trainee aircraft and then the rest will be in simulator. This is a sim-driven training. The conversion between different types of aircraft for pilots will also be faster,” added the official.

A International Air Transport Association (IATA) document titled “guidance material and best practices for MPL implementation” says “since 1947, traditional training for airline pilots has followed a prescriptive compartmentalized (box-ticking) process along the following lines: Ab-initio training in light propeller single-engine (SE) and multi-engine (ME)… Accumulation of applicable flight experience…”

“Over the past decades, ICAO training and licensing standards have remained relatively unchanged and become recognized as impediments to the application of proven industry best practices,” it read, while citing reasons for the need for change.

The IATA document recommends conducting a “pilot aptitude testing” before the start of MPL courses. “…partnering operators (airlines) commit themselves to provide Initial operator experience to contracted graduates. This means that the MPL graduates will immediately fly in the operator’s route network in revenue service once they have been issued their MPL, without requiring any ‘bridge’ training. Evidently, only pilot applicants who have performed well during a rigorous testing process should be admitted to an MPL program,” it says.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s