To cash in on the rapidly growing demand for pilots, Indian aviation academies are setting up training facilities abroad where they can churn out pilots as quickly as in eight months, compared to almost two years that it takes in India.
While Mumbai-based Indian Aviation Academy has set up a facility in Dubai, Indore-based Yash Air, the largest pilot training academy in India, is planning to set up shop in Australia or UAE.
At least another ten academies are looking at a similar option, industry sources told Business Standard.
The phenomenal growth of the aviation industry in India has created a huge scarcity of pilots. There are 4,100 pilots currently available, along with 580 expatriates, though there is a total requirement of 5,200 pilots.
By 2010, the demand is expected to climb to 10,500 pilots and the supply could fall short by up to 1,500, according to aviation experts.
Rules laid down by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation say that 200 hours of flying are required to get a commercial pilot's licence. While that can take 14-18 months in India, on account of shortage of parking bays, aircraft etc, it can be completed abroad in just 6-8 months.
Also, while the Indian course has five exams, there are just three abroad. The three exams can be taken online at any time of the year. In contrast, the exams are held at a fixed time of the year in India.
According to Yashraj Tongia of Yash Air, training pilots abroad also works out cheaper than in India because of the lower cost of spare parts, aviation turbine fuel and training staff. Aviation turbine fuel is almost 50 per cent more expensive in India than abroad.
At the same time, flying instructors cost 60 per cent less abroad. With most instructors having become commercial pilots, there are only eight chief flying instructors in the country at present.
Operating out of duty-free zones, these academies can also save on taxes.
"It is the perfect time to venture out. The booming Indian industry has already bought big names like Airbus and Boeing to set up their institutes here. So we have gone abroad to set up an international flying training school in Dubai, which would later be developed into a full fledged aviation university," Rizwan Qadri, the chairman of Indian Aviation Academy, said.