If media reports of pilots with less than the required flying hours are making you a nervous flier, experienced commanders and airlines say you need not worry. A commercial pilot licence (CPL) holder employed by an airline has to go through a series of proficiency checks conducted by a number of individuals before he enters the cockpit.
According to the Airlines Pilot Association of India (ALPAI), an association of more than 2,000 pilots from Air India, Jet Airways and Kingfisher airlines, passengers have no reason to panic.
“Passengers need not worry as pilots have to go through extensive proficiency checks with many instructors and examiners, authorised by the airlines and the regulatory body,” said captain S Marwah, president of ALPAI.
A trainee pilot’s journey begins with supernumerary training, where s/he sits in the observer’s seat for three months and flies with different commanders and co-pilots on 40 to 50 routes. As s/he is flying with different commanders, chances of developing a rapport with them to influence his assessment are low. After this, s/he has to undergo simulator training with the airline. This is followed by LOFT (line-oriented flying training), where pilots are given online training under the watchful eye of experienced instructors. Then comes the assessment of the trainee by examiners.
The assessment doesn’t end here and continues through various tests and exams until the pilot is working. “Every six months, pilots have to go through route checks in case they have returned from a break, simulator checks and ground training. In addition, every pilot must undergo a refresher course every year, along with flight safety and dangerous goods training. “Every refresher course is followed by a test,” says Marwah. “It’s very unlikely that an inefficient pilot will go undetected in the wake of so many checks and rules formulated by the DGCA and conducted by so many individuals,” he concludes.