900 Pilots who Fly you may not be Completely Fit

Aditya Anand / Mid-day

Mumbai, Aug 9: It is a tricky situation for domestic airlines in the Indian skies. With their demand for an extension to the flying permits of foreign pilots in India being met, the discrepancy in fitness rules between domestic and foreign pilots has once again leapt into focus.

There are over 900 foreign pilots who fly in India. And the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) yesterday cleared their flying permits for two more years, till 2010. They were supposed to have been phased out gradually with co-pilots being Indian nationals from June 1, 2008.

"Airlines are being permitted to appoint foreigners. But the foreign pilots don't have to undergo the same medical tests that an Indian pilot has to. No heed is being paid to determine how healthy they are," said Vikram Yadav, the general secretary of Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA).

An Air India Pilots Association member questioned the DGCA rules, saying, "Why don't foreign pilots flying in India go through the same medical tests that we have to undergo and why is India not following international norms?" In most other countries, foreign pilots have to undergo the medical tests specified by the country they work in.

Said Yadav, "These pilots follow the medical rules prescribed by the country from where they obtained their licence and not Indian rules." But he insisted that no matter which country a pilot hails from, they should be asked to undergo the same tests as their Indian counterparts.  

The ICPA has now sent a letter to the DGCA demanding that foreign pilots be subjected to the same tests, especially because the medical examinations conducted for Indian pilots are very stringent and often result in them being declared medically unfit.


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