A spotlight is being shone on the hour-building processes of India’s pilots, following worrying reports of pilots who trained in India being awarded licences and ratings after hugely reduced flight time. In one reported example, a pilot named Anupam Verma has a certificate that shows he has flown an aircraft for 360 hours, though he claims he got it after sitting in the co-pilot’s seat for just 35 minutes, having been taken for an ‘air-experience’ flight.
Mohan Ranganathan, a former commercial pilot and aviation safety consultant based in Chennai said,”The fudging of log books is rampant both in airlines and in flying clubs.” He added,“Hours were logged with aircraft not even in airworthy condition. One aircraft with no engines showed several hundred hours were logged in its cockpit.”
Concern about the quality of India’s pilots has been building over the past decade as a proliferation of budget airlines created demand for hundreds of new pilots.
Pimm Fox, reporting for Bloomberg TV, explained, “Most airlines require a certain number of hours of flight time before accepting a candidate… In India, the recording of flight hours is all done by hand, and it’s known that it’s been fudged for years, the government has been trying to crack down on this, but in some cases as we have reported, pilots are getting 35 minutes of training but they’re logging a lot more.”
India’s government has made successive efforts to stamp out false documentation and improve safety in the industry. After the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded India’s safety rating last year on concerns over insufficient manpower, New Delhi hired more safety inspectors and carried out a fresh audit of its airlines. The FAA restored India to its top safety tier in April.
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