New Delhi: Foreign co-pilots may continue in employment with Indian carriers for another two years according to a directive of aviation regulator, the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA)..
The fresh DGCA directive was issued following an appeal by Indian carriers that foreign co-pilots be allowed to continue working in India as they had the requisite training, said a top DGCA official.
Domestic carriers Air India, Jet Airways and Kingfisher have confirmed the presence of foreign co-pilots on their roster.
Earlier this year, the DGCA had asked all domestic carriers to take Indian co-pilots on board from 1 June, as thousands of young jobless pilots of Indian origin petitioned the government to act. They pointed out that there were no avenues open for them inspite of the fact that they had undergone costly training abroad.
According to DGCA joint director general, AK Chopra, airline operators urged the government last month to allow foreign co-pilots to work till July 2010, which actually was the deadline for full-fledged pilots of foreign origin to fly as commanders with Indian carriers.
Through a 2005 directive the government permitted domestic carriers to hire foreign co-pilots till 30 May 2008 and senior pilots, or commanders, till July 2010 as they were faced with an acute shortage of pilots.
The situation has reversed dramatically this year, point out Indian Commercial Pilots' Association sources, with nearly 3,000 graduate pilots applying for 25 posts of co-pilots announced by Jet Airways.
According to DGCA data, last year a total of 1,490 foreign pilots were provided licence to work in the Indian civil aviation sector. Currently, India has 944 foreign pilots - 810 commanders and 134 co-pilots.