From 30 of its aircraft grounded due to a debt burden, to placing an order for more than 800 aircraft under Tata, Air India has come a long way. The former national carrier, once close to a collapse, has ordered 20 wide bodied 787s and 10 777s from Boeing. Now it has won the Directorate General of Civil Aviation's approval to let the same set of pilots to operate both models and boost operations.
Making up for the crew crunch?
Currently Air India, Vistara and Air Asia merged together have 3,000 pilots, but once 470 aircraft are sent in by Airbus and Boeing, the carrier will need at least 7,000. Frequent delays and cancellations at Air India, including one where passengers were stranded for 13 hours, have allegedly been caused by this lack of pilots. This is why DGCA's approval for cross-utilisation of pilots for different aircraft, will help Air India streamline services.
At first four pilots will be trained by Air India for the Boeing 787 and four will be trained to fly the Boeing 777s. Each of the eight examiners should have 150 hours of experience flying both 777s and 787s separately, and 10 landings for each, as per DGCA. This practice of pilots flying multiple kinds of aircraft, has been accepted in 16 countries so far.
Air India currently has 700 pilots who can operate wide-bodied airplanes, and it is set to receive 70 such aircraft from Airbus and Boeing combined, as part of its historic order.
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