India requires 1,000+ pilots per year but training facilities lacking

Sakshi Jain

28 Nov 2022

India would need 1000+ pilots annually in the next five years, given the expansion of the aviation industry but the nation lacks facilities for training them.

Additionally, they claimed that the quantity of Commercial Pilot Licences granted in the most recent few years is insufficient to fulfil the escalating demand.

According to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, a total of 744 Commercial Pilot Licences (CPL) were issued in 2019, and 578 CPL were awarded in 2020. However, in 2021, the number rose even more to 862.

“Demand for pilots is going to rise. Nearly 200 retirements are expected every year. But, we don't have adequate infrastructure for this. Currently, a large number of pilots get training in other countries. After coming here, they need to undergo 20 hours of flying, including day and night and cross country for the issue of CPL by the regulator. Issuance of CPLs also takes some time.”

"Government has taken initiatives, but, lack of proper infrastructure at flight training organisations has been observed. There should be monitoring and audit of FTOs."

–A Senior Pilot in India

Due to inadequate infrastructure, a large number of pilots get trained in foreign countries

While the government claims that there is no scarcity of pilots in India, it also acknowledges a slight lack of commanders for some types of aircraft. To address this, the government has issued Foreign Aircrew Temporary Authorizations for foreign pilots (FATA). According to a Parliament reply on July 28, 2022, there were 82 FATA holders in India as of June 30, 2022, compared to more than 9,000 pilots working for Indian airlines.

Through a recruiting agency, Air India recently planned to hire foreign pilots to fill its needs for the Boeing 777 fleet. These pilots would receive better salaries, attractive terms, and excellent benefits. However, several senior Indian pilots criticised the proposal as a ridiculous idea given that India already has capable and knowledgeable Boeing 777 pilots.

Air India recently intended to cover its needs for the Boeing 777 fleet by hiring international pilots through a recruiting firm

Also read: Air India hits with Pilot & Cabin Crew shortage as it plans to expand internationally

Officials claimed that the government has undertaken numerous measures with the need for qualified pilots in mind. The Flight Training Organization (FTO) policy was liberalised by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in 2020.

Nine FTO slots were awarded in 2021 following a competitive bidding process at five airports: Belagavi (Karnataka), Jalgaon (Maharashtra), Kalaburagi (Karnataka), Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh), and Lilabari (Assam). As of June 30, 2022, four of these FTOs were in use: two in Kalaburagi and one each in Jalgaon and Lilabari.

Six additional FTO slots were given by the AAI in June 2022 at five airports, including Bhavnagar (Gujarat), Hubballi (Karnataka), Kadapa (Andhra Pradesh), Kishangarh (Rajasthan), and Salem (Tamil Nadu).

In a recent report, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport and Tourism made note of the new initiatives.

"The Committee supports the new initiatives of the Ministry as it is of the opinion that with the expected growth of the Civil Aviation Sector in the country, there would be increased demand for trained pilots. The Ministry should therefore gear up for the requirement of FTOs and set up FTOs in a time-bound manner."

"The Committee also recommends that keeping in view of the Atmanirbhar Bharat, sufficient FTOs may be established in various parts of the country to ensure that our boys and girls are not going to foreign countries to get pilot training.”

–the report said.

(With inputs from ET)

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Relief for IndiGo as Indian carriers can now wet lease wide-body aircraft for a year

Radhika Bansal

28 Nov 2022

The civil aviation ministry has allowed Indian carriers to take wide-body planes on wet lease for up to one year as it pursues efforts to make the country a key international hub for air traffic.

A senior ministry official on Sunday, November 27 said the rules have been relaxed and airlines that seek to operate wide-body planes will be permitted to operate such aircraft on wet lease for up to one year. Till now, wet leasing of wide-body planes was allowed only for up to six months.

The country's largest airline IndiGo on Sunday, November 27 said it approached the ministry and has received a communication conveying the ministry's approval to allow Indian carriers to wet/damp lease aircraft for six months extendable by another six months.

Relief for IndiGo as Indian carriers can now wet lease wide-body aircraft for a year

IndiGo, which planned to wet-lease three Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from Turkish Airlines, had requested the civil aviation ministry to allow for a two-year lease instead of six months. The government has partially accepted this demand.

ALSO READ – IndiGo to debut with widebody aircraft for international expansion

IndiGo would be able to fly two wet-leased planes according to its network, but wet leasing of additional planes would be permitted only if the airline operates direct flights to Europe or the US.

"Such relaxation shall be available to all Indian carriers on their specific request and the ministry will consider the same based on international destinations that the airline intends to operate. We have plans for inducting B777 aircraft on wet/damp lease basis during the current winter schedule. We are currently working on finalising the contract for the wet/damp lease."


ALSO READ - DGCA allows IndiGo to wet lease Turkish Airlines planes

Last month, aviation regulator DGCA permitted IndiGo to wet lease wide-body Boeing planes from Turkish Airlines for up to six months. Under the wet lease arrangement, planes are leased along with the operating crew and engineers. In a wet lease, the lessor provides pilots and takes care of maintenance, and insurance for the aircraft for the duration of the lease.

ALSO READ - IndiGo introduces Mumbai – Instanbul direct flights

Last month, IndiGo announced flights on the Mumbai-Istanbul route from January 1. These would be in addition to the New Delhi-Istanbul flights, which operate with Airbus A320/A321Neo type aircraft. These Airbus aircraft have lower payload and range than the Boeing 777 aircraft. As such, in the past, the airline has had to offload baggage or take a technical halt on the Istanbul route because of prevailing wind conditions.

Last month, IndiGo announced flights on the Mumbai-Istanbul route from January 1. These would be in addition to the New Delhi-Istanbul flights, which operate with Airbus A320/A321Neo type aircraft

With the wet lease of Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, seat capacity between India and Turkey will nearly double. It will also benefit Turkish Airlines as its growth in India is restricted under the existing bilateral air service agreement.

IndiGo and Turkish Airlines have had a codeshare partnership (a marketing arrangement that allows airlines to sell seats on each others’ flights) since 2018. Last week, IndiGo announced code share on 19 Turkish Airlines-operated flights to Portugal and Switzerland.

ALSO READ - IndiGo adds 19 new connecting flights to Portugal and Switzerland, via Turkey

“We have witnessed a huge demand for travel from India to Turkey, Switzerland, and Portugal. Keeping customer demand in mind, we now offer 19 connecting flights through Istanbul to destinations like Geneva, Lisbon, Porto, and Basel. This will not only enhance international connectivity, but also add capacity on these routes and make travel more affordable," said Vinay Malhotra, head of global sales, IndiGo.

Vinay Malhotra, Head of Global Sales, IndiGo

The ministry official said Indian airlines that seek to operate planes on wet lease to the United States and Europe will be permitted to continue with that arrangement for up to one year. The idea of allowing wet leasing of planes for a longer period will help Indian carriers to operate more wide-body aircraft.

Air India, which was acquired by Tata group in January this year, is being stabilised and will take more time before they acquire more wide-body planes, the official added. For now, Air India is dry leasing planes as it expands operations.

Air India is dry leasing planes as it expands operations.

With more wide-body aircraft being operated by Indian carriers, they will be able to ferry more passengers and ultimately that will help the country become a key international hub for air traffic in the coming years, the official said.

Generally, wet leasing of planes is allowed for short periods to tackle supply constraints and ensure that airfares do not surge significantly.

ALSO READ – Is wet leasing aircraft a good choice for Indian airlines?

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The road to Airbus ZEROe- Hydrogen Tanks


27 Nov 2022

For an aircraft to fly directly on hydrogen, there are two basic technologies:

fuel a hydrogen-powered engine with modified gas turbine engines

utilize hydrogen fuel cells to generate electrical power

Use a hybrid strategy that combines both technologies

However, there is a constant at work regardless of these alternatives: hydrogen needs to be kept extremely cold. Even when the tanks are empty, it must be kept at a constant temperature of -253°C for storage and the entire flight.

However, there is a constant at work regardless of these alternatives: hydrogen needs to be kept extremely cold. Even when the tanks are empty, it must be kept at a constant temperature of -253°C for storage and the entire flight.

Thus, storage tanks are a crucial component of a hydrogen-powered aircraft, but they are entirely distinct from those on a conventional aircraft.

Hence to design and produce the hydrogen tanks, Airbus constructed Zero Emission Development Centers (ZEDCs) in Bremen, Germany, and Nantes, France.

Innovation and expertise at the ZEDCs

 Bremen is close to Ariane Group and Airbus Defence and Space, with their experience working with hydrogen, and Nantes has considerable expertise with metallic structures. The tank is manufactured in Nantes, and the coldbox, which takes care of the gasification of the liquid hydrogen, is produced in Bremen.

Representative | Leeham News

It’s a real testament to the teamwork across our sites to see this first tank being manufactured so quickly. We want to optimise the tank for greater efficiency and to further reduce its environmental footprint: after all, a zero-emission aircraft needs to be as close to zero emission as possible throughout its whole life cycle- Chris Redfern, Head of Manufacturing, ZEROe Aircraft and Head of Propulsion Industrial Architect

This tank is not just technologically advanced; it also marks a break from conventional procedures. The teams chose a co-development strategy, embracing an agile and dynamic working methodology, where they acknowledged the need to invent, test, fail rapidly, and adapt in order to advance quickly.

The development at the Nantes location, where the team used an empty warehouse to construct the first cryogenic hydrogen tank ever created by Airbus in just over a year, serves as an example of this pace.

The current stage of development

The cryogenic hydrogen tanks are designed by engineers in Toulouse using software. The teams in Bremen and Nantes receive these designs, assess them, and look into the manufacturing process. Once the design has been decided upon, the first tank is created and tested using nitrogen rather than hydrogen- and this is where Airbus seems to be at today, according to the manufacturer.

Next step, according to the company, is to look at designing the second prototype with a critical outlook. Insights are gained into what could be done better.

Data from testing is gathered with a focus on maximizing available space, enhancing performance, and streamlining the manufacturing process. The construction and testing of the second tank, which is already underway, will take around another year.

What next?

Okay, so that just about covers the storage part of liquid hydrogen. Of course, there are many variables involved when it comes to deploying hydrogen propulsion on a commercially viable scale. Nevertheless, the efforts are on and the next episode would focus on fuel cells and how to convert hydrogen into electricity. Stay put!


COVER : Airbus

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Alliance Air launches Silchar-Imphal flight service

Sakshi Jain

26 Nov 2022

Alliance Air launches its route between Silchar and Imphal on Thursday, November 25, after a long gap of 10 years. 

At 2:03 pm, the flight bound for Imphal Airport took off from Silchar Airport with 30 passengers. The two locations are currently connected by this airline's daily direct flight, which travels the distance in 40 minutes. 

Alliance Air flags off flight service between Silchar to Imphal Airport, after a long gap of 10 years

The station manager and ground employees were present for the inaugural ceremony of the flight under the Regional Connectivity Scheme, UDAN (Ude Deshka Aam Nagrik) of the Civil Aviation Ministry of the Government of India. 

Also read: Jyotiraditya Scindia flags off 3 flights connecting 5 cities in North-East

The Regional Connectivity Scheme-UDAN will use this Alliance Air flight to run a daily service between the airports of the two states. At 1:30 PM, the ATR aircraft, which has a seating capacity of 70 passengers, is scheduled to leave Silchar Airport. The flight takes 40 minutes to travel the distance and arrives at Imphal Airport around 2:10 in the afternoon.

The first passenger, Manjula Das, was ceremonially handed over the boarding pass by the station manager at Silchar Airport. 

“Have been waiting for this direct connectivity for many days. I am very elated that, I can reach my home in Imphal without deboarding or changing aircraft in just 40 minutes from Silchar.”

–Manjula Das, the first passenger to board the flight, expressed her happiness

The Regional Connectivity Scheme-UDAN will use Alliance Air flights to run a daily service between the airports of the two states

“People of Silchar have been waiting for this sector as it took a long time for the existing airlines and this has been launched with the vision of the Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiradity M Scindia Ji and the Prime Minister. We have got a good response today from Silchar, 30 passengers have already booked the flight for departure from Silchar and 37 passengers are arriving here from Imphal. The CEO of our airline has given a plausible response and if we continue to get this appreciation from people we will introduce more flights.”

–Meesala Narsingh Rao, Station Manager, Alliance Air Aviation at Silchar Airport

In the coming days, the same route would also connect to Dimapur and Aizwal through Imphal, according to another airline official.

Alliance Air is the sole government-owned airline in India, also planning to provide service to neighbouring nations. Alliance Air's network reaches more than 50 destinations, primarily tier-2 and tier-3 cities. The carrier recently unveiled new aircraft that enable it to travel to harder and more difficult-to-access airports and improve connection in such areas.

Made in India Dornier Do-228 aircraft was received by Alliance Air

Additionally, Alliance Air uses a Dornier Do-228 aircraft that was manufactured in India, allowing it to access several airstrips that were previously inaccessible to fixed-wing aircraft. Shimla and Kullu are two high-terrain routes served by the carrier's recently purchased smaller ATR 42 aircraft.

Also read: Alliance Air receives the first made-in-India civilian aircraft – Dornier 228

With a fleet of ATR and Dornier turboprops, the airline primarily flies regional flights across the nation only as of now. However, according to a recent statement from its CEO, flights to adjacent international locations are also being examined.

Also read: Alliance Air intends to link India with nearby nations

Alliance Air might defy the norm and concentrate on connecting smaller cities with foreign destinations, as opposed to Indian airlines often prioritising flights to airports like Delhi (DEL) and Mumbai (BOM) when scheduling international flights.

(With inputs from Barak Bulletin)

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Pune Airport to get a new terminal building by May 2023: Scindia

Sakshi Jain

26 Nov 2022

The Pune International Airport would get a new terminal building by May 2023, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia declared on Friday, November 25.

A new terminal building will be inaugurated at Pune Airport by May 2023

Scindia was in Pune for an inauguration of the Aero Mall where he was talking about a multi-level parking facility near the airport, which is the need of the hour, due to heavy traffic flow. 

Airports Authority of India has allocated Rs. 500 Crore for the development of Pune Airport. He cited a new terminal building at Pune Airport, which would open in May 2023 and of which 75% of the construction is complete. The minister affirmed that a facility for international cargo will be added to the new terminal building. 

Also read: Pune Airport to lease land from the Defense Ministry to expand its cargo terminal

“A direct flight from Pune to Bangkok has already started. Flight operations between Pune and Singapore will start on December 1. A new terminal will be constructed by May 2023 at the Pune airport. Seventy-five per cent of the new building has been completed.”

–Jyotiraditya Scindia, Civil Aviation Minister

Additionally, the BJP leader claimed to have a "very personal relationship" with Pune. 

“Though I live in Gwalior, my heart still remains in Pune. The city holds top rank in arts, culture, history, business, IT and much more.”

–Jyotiraditya Scindia

Pune city holds top rank in arts, culture, history, business, IT and much more: Scindia

Airlines have boosted the number of flights leaving Pune as the winter schedule has begun, and this month the airport is expected to operate 200 flights (100 departures and 100 arrivals) every day.

In addition, along with Dubai, Pune Airport has connections to Bangkok, Singapore, and Doha. The Pune to Singapore flight will start on December 2, and Pune to Doha flight will follow later on. 

The winter schedule has begun at the Pune airport, according to information provided by the Airport Authority of India (AAI) at the beginning of November. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has allowed more than 200 daily slots for civil flight operations. There are typically 218 daily flying slots authorised by the IAF, with Sunday having the most (247). 

As the winter schedule has started, airlines have increased the number of flights departing Pune, and this month the airport is anticipated to operate 200 flights every day

Since last October, the airport has only been open from 8 am to 8 pm. Initial plans were for 24-hour operations to start at the end of this month.

The primary cause of flight bunching at the airport, which caused chaos, confusion, and crowding at the check-in desks and security screening, has been the absence of flight operations between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Since there have been more planes in recent months, the issue has gotten much worse.

“Certainly, the daily flight operation slots have increased in the winter schedule as the number of both arriving and departing flights has increased. It is a good sign for Pune airport as there are greater footfalls and we are trying to provide the best facilities to passengers. Till now, 85 slots each for departure and arrival have been applied for with regard to daily flight operations but the number will only increase in the coming months considering year-end and the vacation season.”

–Santosh Doke, Director, Pune Airport

Pune to Singapore flights will begin on December 2, while Pune to Doha flights will follow next

He also added that the Pune to Singapore and Pune to Doha flights (one each) will begin next month. This will not only increase international travel but also cargo transport from Pune to various parts of the world.

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United Airlines cancels Delhi-Chicago flight; passengers stranded at Delhi airport

Radhika Bansal

26 Nov 2022

Chicago-bound United Airlines cancelled its flight from Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport after a major technical snag was detected in the aircraft.

The Boeing 787-9, registration N36962, Flight UA-713 was scheduled for take-off at 1.10 AM on Friday, November 25 after being pushed back from the bay at Delhi airport as the pilot of United Airlines announced that the flight was facing some technical issues and the plane is returning to the parking bay again.

“Our team at Delhi International Airport provided assistance to customers of United flight 713 (Delhi-Chicago O'Hare) of Friday, which was canceled following a technical issue and our crew subsequently exceeding their duty hours. The aircraft is scheduled to depart Delhi for Chicago O'Hare at 3.15 am on Saturday (Nov 26, IST).”

Spokesperson, United Airlines

Around 198 United Airlines passengers are stranded at Delhi airport, accusing airline staff of not providing accommodation on time.

United Airlines has deployed Boeing aircraft for long-haul flights for Chicago operations, hundreds of passengers were stranded at the Delhi airport since the intervening night of Friday and passengers are accusing the airline staff of not providing proper arrangements.

The B787 aircraft can accommodate a total of 257 passengers in a four-class configuration – 48 in Polaris Business, 21 in Premium Plus, 39 in Economy Plus, and 149 in Economy.

United Airlines cancels Delhi-Chicago flight; passengers stranded at Delhi airport

"Airline company not giving real-time information about the next flight, no accommodation was given on time," a passenger told ANI.

According to Delhi airport officials, United Airlines staff later declared the flight as Aircraft on Ground (AOG) due to the flight duty time limit (FDTL) of crew members. The flight will take off from Delhi on Saturday, November 26 at around 3 AM. United Airlines' official statement on this incident is availed.

The daily Boeing 787-9-operated flight UA713 is scheduled to leave Delhi at 01:10 and touch down in Chicago at 07:00.

One of the world's longest flights, flight UA713, is over 7,450 miles (12,000 km) long and takes off and lands on average in about 16 hours and 30 minutes. Singapore Airlines, which flies its Airbus A350 on the 15,349 km route between Singapore and New York JFK, currently holds the record for this feat.

Air India begins flying its Boeing 777-200LR between the two tech hubs and will remain the sole operator on the route for quite some time.

The plane in question, N36962, had arrived in Delhi from Newark the evening before it was supposed to leave for Chicago in the early morning. The Dreamliner, one of 38 Boeing 787-9s in United Airlines' fleet, was delivered to the airline brand-new in December 2015.

United Airlines has a growing presence in India and currently flies from Delhi to Newark and Chicago, and from Mumbai to Newark. However, the launch of the airline’s long-awaited service between Bangalore and San Francisco has recently been pushed back once more to October 2023.

ALSO READ - SFO – BLR, United Airlines' new daily flight to start by the end of 2022

This delay means that when Air India begins flying its Boeing 777-200LR between the two tech hubs on December 2, 2022, it will remain the sole operator on the route for quite some time.

ALSO READ - Air India broadens its international footprint by launching 20 flights to US and UK