Domestic flights: Both pilots can be foreigners

The central government has decided to allow domestic flights even if both pilots in the cockpit are foreigners. This will help airlines utilise their fleets optimally, and not keep planes grounded owing to a shortage of pilots. The present rules stipulate the presence of a trainee Indian pilot in the cockpit if both the commander and the co-pilot are foreigners, to ensure there's no communication gap between the pilots and the air traffic control (ATC), owing to a possible language barrier.

But getting trainee Indian pilots has proved difficult, especially for new airlines. So the government has decided to give 'case-by-case' clearance to expat pilots for operating domestic flights.

But the airline concerned will have to inform the aviation ministry about its programme to train Indian pilots so that the country can get the required number of flyers it requires in coming years.