New Delhi, Sept. 2: Air India has just four pilots capable of handling the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, making it difficult for the ailing carrier to include the plane in its busy winter schedule.
According to officials in the civil aviation ministry, even if Air India manages to get the first five Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft within the next two months, it may not be able to operate all of them because of the acute shortage of pilots.
Air India is supposed to get five of the 27 aircraft this year. “According to the norms, around 90 pilots (commander and first officer), are required to fly the five Dreamliners. At present, four are available,” civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said.
According to ministry officials, training of Dreamliner pilots will take time. Around 77 pilots are supposed to be trained, but the time of completion of the training is not known. “We will see what exactly needs to be done about the shortage but in all probability Dreamliners will be part of our winter schedule,” they said.
In the last two years, the national carrier has faced a series of hurdles in getting pilots ready for the Dreamliner. In fact, it faced two strikes over the training of pilots.
Recently, pilots of the erstwhile Air India, who flew on international routes, had demanded that their colleagues from Indian Airlines be barred from training to fly the Dreamliner.
About 400 pilots under the banner of the Indian Pilots Guild, had gone on a 60-day strike, which cost the loss-laden national carrier Rs 300 crore. The issue still remains unresolved.
“We are going ahead with the training of pilots and would have them ready soon,” a senior AI official said.
Ministry officials said there was a need for 396 pilots for 18 Boeing 777 aircraft but only 297 were available.
Meanwhile, Singh has said the salaries of AI employees have been paid up to May along with the performance-linked incentives for April.
Air India has four trained pilots for the Dreamliner — much less than requirements
Five Dreamliners are expected in next two months
As many as 90 pilots — commanders and first officers — needed for the five planes