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Age toll on aspirants
- Delay affects employability of trainee pilots

Ranchi, Oct. 3: For 26 youths who put aside steady jobs and other career options to give wings to their dream of becoming pilots, delay in engaging a flying school to complete their state-sponsored training has meant losing out on their employability with every passing day.

“The usual employable age for first-timer at the airlines is 27-28. Many of us are crossing this age now. If our training is further delayed, we will simply miss the bus,” feared Raj Kumar, a trainee pilot hailing from Bokaro.

The state government had selected 28 ST, SC and OBC students through an open examination in early 2009.

It also chose Hyderabad-based Spica Airlines and Aviation Academy to conduct commercial pilot training for the candidates, who left for learning in March 2009.

But they soon discovered that the aviation centre had no Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) licence.

Through a fresh tender, Sai Flytech, based in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, was chosen for commercial pilot training of the youths. The students were sent to Bilaspur in November 2010, but the jinxed bunch were asked to leave about a year later in 2011, reportedly after DGCA had cancelled its licence to the institute.

They returned to Jharkhand in mid-November 2011 and have since been waiting to enrol in an institute to complete the rest of their training.

Most of the trainee pilots were in the age group of 22-23 when they were selected for the state-sponsored programme. Now, they have wasted over three years, completing only about 60 hours, out of a mandatory 210 hours of flying — all of which needed to be completed within 10 months.

While private airlines set an upper age limit of 35 to recruit fresh pilots, public carrier Air India recruits fresh pilot aged up to 40. However, most airlines prefer to hire those below 30. After the Spica Aviation fiasco, two students left out of the programme, while 26 have remained clinging to their dream.

“Our frustration is growing and our parents are also losing patience. We are going through the most difficult phase of our life,” said Harilal Bhagat, another trainee pilot hailing from Lohardaga.

Asked, welfare department secretary L. Khiangte said the department would soon end the agony of the trainees. “We have started addressing the problem on priority basis and will soon find a new training institute for the students.”


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