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NZ opportunities in Indian aviation

Aviation training organisations are being urged to join together to provide trained staff for India’s booming aviation industry.

The General Manager of New Zealand’s only university school of aviation, Captain Ashok Poduval, says the economic boom in India has resulted in huge growth in Indian aviation, creating an immediate demand for well-trained airline operational staff, particuarly pilots.

Captain Poduval has already had a positibe response from training providers in New Zealand to the idea of a joint bid and says he plans to visit India to develop the initiative further.

He says this window of opportunity to the India market will not be open for long, with the Austraalian aviation training industry already making a bid. “There is little time for procrastination. There have been some industry movements in this direction, but are not moving ahead quickly enough, and it may well be a case of too little, too late.”

Captain Poduval is a fomer Air India pilot and has held senior positions in the International Air Transport Association (IATA). He is a member of the Export Strategy committee of the Aviation Industry Association, which is developing an integrated export-led growth strategy.


Captain Poduval says:

At the recent Paris Air Show, airlines from India amazed the aviation industry with orders for 250 aircraft. In the last six months, private and public sector airlines have placed orders that translate to one new aircraft being pressed into service each week of 2006. They are expected to buy or lease 60 new aircraft over the next year, increasing their fleet size by over a third, from the present figure of 175 aircraft to 235 aircraft.

The consequence of such growth is an acute shortage of operational staff, particularly professional pilots. This is compounded by the fact that the Civil Aviation Authority of India will only grant permission for foreign nationals to fly in India as captains for a limited period of time, and will not permit recruitment of foreign nationals as co-pilots.

Currently, few flight training organisations or aero clubs in India are capable of providing pilot training, largely because the majority of light aircraft flight training instructors have been employed by the airlines. Potential candidates are desperately seeking training schools overseas that are relatively less expensive and capable of completing flight training up to a commercial pilots’ licence.

- The minimum qualification for employment as a first officer for any airline in India is a Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPI) with an Instrument rating, and a Multi-engine rating. The Civil Aviation Authority in India requires 200 flight hours, and 15 hours of multi engine experience for issue of a CPL.

- The United States has been a preferred provider of training to these levsls. However, recent security requirements in the United States are causing a major problem and security clearance can take many months.

- Aviation training organisations in New Zealand are capable of providing this training in 12 to 15 months. The cost of training here is competitive, given currency advantage against the US dollar. However, training organisations in New Zealand have not been pro-active in seeking such students, and Australia is beginning to make in-roads into this market. However the cost of training in Australia is higher than in New Zealand).

- Most individual training organizations in New Zealand do not have the capacity to train large numbers of students: The solution is for a unified initiative, project managed by one group, to offer a package deal to the Indian market.

- There is a likelihood of spin-offs from such a venture, including providing expertise and technology for airports and air traffic control services in India, which are both experiencing high growth.

- A further benefit would be the income stream available to training providers. This would reduce their dependence on government funded domestic pilot trainees, at least in the shorter term, enabling the Ministry of Education to reduce spending on pilot training. Air New Zealand and its subsidiary airlines are not likely to recruit in the near future, except perhaps to replace attrition, with the age for pilot retirement now raised internationally from 60 years to 65 years.

- A reduction in domestic pilot training, in the short term, could match the reduced demand for pilots within New Zealand: The increased international pilot training would ensure that private training establishments do not suffer financially.

Massey University has already successfully completed training contracts for overseas clients from Indonesia, China, Singapore and the Middle East. The the University created and delivered the present pilot-training system for the Indonesian Civil Aviation Authority at their central training establishment at Curug in Java.


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