INDIA – How to Get a Pilot License After 35 Min in the Air.

Anupam Verma has a certificate that shows he has flown an aircraft for 360 hours. He says he got it after sitting in the co-pilot’s seat for just 35 minutes.

He’s one of dozens of pilots in the country who obtained certificates showing inflated flying hours and ground training, according to court documents and interviews with pilots, regulators and industry analysts. The son of a poor farmer, Verma was given a 2.8 million-rupee ($44,000) subsidy by the Indian government to learn to fly a commercial jet.

“What if I was flying and had an emergency? I wouldn’t even know how or where to land,” Verma, 25, said in an interview. “We’d kill not only the passengers, but we might crash in a village and kill even more people.”

The spotlight on aviation safety has swung from aircraft reliability to pilot reliability in the past few years after a series of disasters that were thought to be either deliberate acts of destruction, or the result of inadequate training. The latest, in March, killed 150 people when Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz appears to have locked his captain out of the cockpit and flown his jet into a mountain.

Concern about the quality of India’s pilots has been building over the past decade as a proliferation of budget airlines created demand for hundreds of new pilots. In 2011, the government reviewed the licenses of all 4,000-plus airline pilots in the country, as police investigated at least 18 people suspected of using forged documents to win promotions or certification. The findings of the review were not made public.

India Under Fire for Quality of Airline Pilots
“The fudging of log books is rampant both in airlines and in flying clubs,” said Mohan Ranganathan, a former commercial pilot and aviation safety consultant based in Chennai. He said the 2011 audit found violations in most flying clubs in the country. “Hours were logged with aircraft not even in airworthy condition. One aircraft had no engines but several hundred hours were logged.”
Asked about the continued use of fake certificates, India’s Director General of Civil Aviation, M. Sathiyavathy, said on April 24 the directorate would be conducting a new audit that would require the “recertification of all the flying schools.”

Fake Flying
Over logging has been common practice in India since the 1960s, according to a retired commander who has flown in India for over 40 years and asked not to be named because the information was confidential. With the increase in budget airlines the typical number of faked hours rose from about 20 hours to a peak of as much as 150, he said.

He said airlines can soon tell if a pilot has faked certificates because they don’t have basic skills, but the carrier can’t fire them because they have DGCA licenses. To bring them up to scratch, airlines have to do expensive corrective training, he said.

Of India’s seven major airlines, Tata SIA Airlines Ltd.’s Vistara said it is aware of over logging, but tests all new pilots and provides its own training. SpiceJet Ltd. said it only hires from prestigious air schools and tests and trains all new pilots. IndiGo, Air India Ltd., Jet Airways India Ltd. and AirAsia India Ltd. didn’t respond to e-mails and phone calls about the issue. Go Airlines India Pvt. Ltd. declined to comment.

The rise of budget carriers not only increased demand for pilots, it also sparked a price war that wiped out the industry’s profit. India’s carriers have lost $10 billion in the past seven years as they offered base fares as low as 1 rupee (2 cents). That works out as a loss of about $22 for each passenger that stepped on board during the period, according to the Sydney-based CAPA Centre for Aviation.

Yet, for people like Verma, the award of a government grant to learn to fly is a chance to escape poverty. His father supports his family of seven by selling vegetables grown on a plot of land half the size of a football field. Most of his siblings only work part-time to supplement the income.

Yash Air
Verma enrolled in December 2009 at Yash Air, a flying school in the city of Indore, halfway between Mumbai and Delhi. On his first day, he said he was taken on a 35-minute “air-experience” flight to give him a feel of what it was like to be in a plane. Moments after the aircraft landed, he was handed a certificate of flying for 360 hours, he said in an interview on June 1. He said he was told he will do the actual flying later during the course, but that he eventually flew for just 3 hours at the school.

When Verma and other trainee pilots realized they weren’t going to gain the necessary flying experience, they complained to the school and Verma sued for return of the money he paid. The Allahabad High Court ordered that his fees be returned, according to a court order in February this year.

“Several discrepancies have been noticed with regard to over logging of flight details, flight authorization, maintenance of various log books and fuel consumption registers,” according to a DGCA enquiry into the complaints about Yash Air, dated June 6, 2014, a copy of which was given to Bloomberg News.

On May 19, 2010, a qualified pilot from Yash Air took a trainee pilot on a “joy ride” in a Cessna-152 and hit a power line, according to the DGCA’s final report into the accident. The two-seater, single-engined trainer crashed into a dry river bed, splitting into five pieces and killing the men. They were both about 20 years old, according to the report, dated Dec. 17, 2010.

The owner and chief trainer at the school, Yash Raj Tongia, was appointed as the DGCA’s director of flying and training in 2011, even though his flying skills were “below standard,” the June 2014 DGCA report said.

Court Ruling
Yash Air changed its name to Centaur Aviation Academy Pvt. Ltd. after the allegations were made in 2010, according to the Allahabad High Court. Yash Air issued certificates to its students without conducting ground classes and flying training, the court said in December 2014.

Attempts to get the flying school or Tongia to comment on Verma’s claims were unsuccessful. Calls to Tongia’s mobile phone number listed in the court documents were unanswered. Kshemendra Shukla, one of the lawyers who represents Yash Air, said he doesn’t have any contact number for Tongia. He didn’t respond to questions concerning Yash Air.

Telephone numbers for Yash Air and Centaur Aviation were no longer in service. The DGCA said Centaur Aviation’s approval remains suspended.

Even with the minimum 200 hours mandated by the Indian government, pilots would be unlikely to have experienced all of the weather and other conditions they’re likely to meet flying a commercial jet, said Neil Hansford, an aviation consultant, who has worked in the industry in Asia, Europe and his home country, Australia since 1984.

Airlines should hire pilots with at least 1,000 hours of flying time and preferably match the 1,500 hours mandated by Qantas Airways Ltd., he said. Pilots in countries like Australia often gain years of experience in general aviation — delivering mail to remote areas, ferrying mine workers or in the Royal Flying Doctor Service — before flying jetliners.

That will test a pilot in a variety of conditions, so “when th chips are down, they still remember the basics of stick-and-rudder flying,” Hansford said. “The wrong time to be challenged is when you have 300 people behind you.”

Asian Carriers
For budget airlines in Asia, that’s often not an option. Singapore’s Tiger Airways Holding Ltd. said it hires holders of multi-crew or commercial pilot licenses with about 200 flying hours and then gives them further training.

Full-service carrier Asiana Airlines Inc., based in Seoul, looks for at least 300 hours, said spokesman Daewoong Im. “Realistically, it’s difficult to get a non-military person with more than 300 flying hours,” he said.

Carriers also use simulators and other ground training to improve pilots’ experience.

In India, many private Indian flying schools began as clubs that trained pilots without formal regulations. While schools in the U.S. use a Hobbs Meter, which automatically logs flight times and other data for training aircraft, some Indian schools still enter flight times by hand, making it easier to falsify data. Indian flying academies that falsify data run cars on aviation fuel to avoid a mismatch between flight times and fuel consumption, said three people who have worked directly with flying schools in the country.

India’s government has made successive efforts to stamp out false documentation and improve safety in the industry. After the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration downgraded India’s safety rating in 2014 on concerns over insufficient manpower, India hired more safety inspectors and carried out a fresh audit of its airlines. The FAA restored India to its top safety tier in April.

Fewer Accidents
Since 2000, the number of fatal aviation accidents in India has declined, data from Aviation Safety Network show. The last major airline disaster was in 2010, when an Air India Express plane overshot the runway in the city of Mangalore and burst into flames, killing 158 people.

India is putting in “a lot of effort” to ensure safety of airline passengers and student pilots, civil aviation chief Sathiyavathy told reporters on April 24. The DGCA didn’t respond to phone calls and text messages asking for comment on the issue of fake certificates.

That hasn’t stopped under-trained pilots applying for jobs with the nation’s biggest airlines. One qualified pilot, who asked not to be named because it may harm his career, said he completed fewer than 120 of the 200 hours his certificates say he has done. He said he is in the process of applying to fly for IndiGo, the nation’s biggest carrier.

Another pilot, who said his certificates showed an inflated number of hours for solo flights, applied to Air India.

Neither of the two pilots has been hired by the airlines.

As for Verma, he said he passed the entrance exam to the government-owned Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi in Uttar Pradesh. He’s looking forward to finally learning to fly this year.

Source: Anurak Kotoki – Bloomberg

The Stabilized Approach.

For several years the highest percentage of incidents and accidents has occurred during the approach and landing phases. According to a Flight Safety Foundation study, 46 percent of the 250 worldwide accidents of the period 2002-2011 happened during approach, landing or go-around.

Although operators can specify different minimums criteria for deciding to continue the approach or execute a go-around, on their Approach and Landing Accident Reduction (ALAR) Briefing Note 7-1, the FSF suggests that the approach must be stabilized 1000ft. AGL on IMC and 500ft AGL on VMC. An approach is considered stabilized when:

• The aircraft is on the correct flight path.
• Only small changes on heading and pitch are necessary to maintain the correct flight path.
• The airspeed is not more than VREF + 20 IAS and not less than VREF.
• The aircraft is on the landing configuration.
• Sink rate is not more than 1000ft/min. If an approach requires a sink rate of more than 1000ft/min, should be noted on the approach briefing.
• Power/Thrust is appropriate for the actual aircraft configuration and not below the minimum required for the approach according to the AOM.
• Approach briefing and all necessary checklists have been conducted.
• Specific type of approaches are stabilized if they also fulfill the following
• ILS approaches should be flown within one dot of the localizer and glide slope.
• A category II or III approach must be flown within the expanded localizer band.
• During a Circling Approach wings should be level on final when the aircraft reaches 300ft above airport elevation.
• Unique approach conditions or abnormal conditions requiring a deviation from the above elements of a stabilized approach require a special briefing.

Stabilised Approach Gates

Stabilized Approach “Gates”

If anyone of these elements are not met by 1000ft above airport elevation on IMC or 500ft above airport elevation on VMC, requires and immediate GO-AROUND.

Contributing factors to create an unstabilised approach can be adverse weather, being placed by ATC in an uncomfortable position for the approach, runway illusions during a night approach with no vertical guidance, being high or too close to the runway during a circling maneuver.

Continuation of an unstabilized approach can lead to several situations like; cross the runway threshold too fast and/or too high, not be aligned with the runway centerline, leading to land long on the existing runway, or a runway excursion.

Build your own defenses; adhere strictly to SOP’s and if for some reason not listed here you don’t feel comfortable with the approach execute a go-around, prepare for a new approach and start again. Don’t allow anyone to rush you.
Happy Landings!!


Capt. Ivan

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10 Tips for VFR Flying

Visual flying can be much more challenging than flying using instruments as sole reference.  Visual flying requires good pre-flight planning, knowledge of weather conditions at departure, en-route and destination and a careful study of winds aloft.  Also requires a good knowledge of terrain along the route, obstructions, prominent landmarks combined with familiarity with your aircraft performance and speeds. 

I have put a series of suggestions that will help you keep your VFR flying safer and enjoyable.

1.    If you are flying VFR, keep under visual meteorological conditions.  Countless accidents happened because of trying to keep visual conditions into deteriorating weather.  If weather ahead of you starts pushing you between the clouds and the ground to keep visual conditions, the key element is to know when to turn back towards good weather or divert to a visual alternate.  Remember, always have a plan B.

2.    Study the weather forecasts and make a plan well ahead of your departure time. In the U.S., TV weather forecasts are very accurate and we can get a good picture of what to expect on the area of our flight.  For complete weather information always rely on professional aviation related websites.  Don’t stay only with the info provided by your briefer, sometimes is difficult to get a mental weather picture on spoken words.

3.    Flight Plan, don’t leave home without one.  Is the cheapest insurance you can get that someone is going to look for you outside there is you don’t arrive on ETA at your destination.  You can file a VFR Flight Plan several ways:  by telephone to your nearest Flight Service Station (FSS), with your Flight Dispatcher at your flying school of FBO or by VHF with your nearest FSS after you depart.  Jeppesen’s provides a free service with access to MyFlitePlan online to file a VFR Flight Plan.  Always remember to close your flight plan on arrival at your destination.

4.    Use the advantages of GPS, but just as a backup source.  With GPS accuracy and complete information provided, is hard not to fall into follow it blindly, resist the temptation and use it to create a path that includes relevant enroute landmarks and obstructions or to deviate around busy, prohibited, or restricted areas.

5.    Avoid congested areas around busy airports and big cities.  Even when VFR flights are routed through corridors around big airports, this can result in a big deviation or a series of radar vectors to avoid commercial traffic.  Flying near or over big cities can reduce significantly the forward vision due to air pollution.

6.    Are you a low timer, flying first time on a new area?  If you can, get a qualified pilot familiar with the area to ride with you on the right seat.  Learning by yourself in aviation is always the hardest way, two pairs of eyes are much more better to scan for traffic, help with navigation, do radio-communications and share the experience!

7.    Fly high, whenever possible.  Always keeping in mind to have visual contact with terrain, fly higher when conditions permit.  Instead of staying at usual altitudes of 4000 or 7000 feet, a higher altitude, let’s say 10.000 feet (max allowed without supplemental oxygen), will give you a better environment perspective and save fuel.

8.    Make a list of the airports with suitable runways along or near your route of flight.  In aviation, the most challenging situation is the unexpected,  there are several reasons why you may find yourself forced to divert or land at a different airport than planned destination, weather, an on board emergency or abnormal situation, even that lunch that you had at the airport can create a problem in an aircraft without toilette.  Make a plan, and work your plan.

9.    Use all resources available today.  When I started flying we had to rely only on our eyes, a visual chart, a clock and a circular computer.  Today all available resources are amazing, not only some general aviation aircraft are equipped with terrain display presentations, devices like the Ipad and GPS make our flying much more enjoyable and accurate. 

10.Only fly at night if you are really qualified to do so.  Moonless nights can represent a real challenge for visual flying for non-instrument rated pilots.  Once the wheels leave the ground all outside references are lost, especially on runways in the middle of a dark spot, rapid acceleration can create a series of body sensations that tend to confuse our brain when no outside clues are available. 

Be receptive to all clues that can be telling you is not the day to do a VFR flight, an aircraft that is not in proper condition, forecasted deteriorating weather or even yourself not being fit to fly, remember; be safe, as the old saying goes: “is better to stay on the ground wishing to stay in the air, than in the air wishing to stay in the ground”

Visual Flight Rules – VFR

Capt. Ivan


Are You Willing to Work in Exchange for Flight Training?

Do you have services to offer in exchange for flight training? Or, are you a flight instructor who would accept those services in exchange for your skills and knowledge? If so, Stephanie Thoen hopes you’ll visit a new website:

Thoen, of Aurora, Colo., created the website as a means of offering an alternative method for student pilots to pay for their flight training. Certificated flight instructors can register free of charge. All others pay a yearly fee of $18.95. Thoen said she has begun the process of registering her business, Limitless Aviation, as a nonprofit. She plans to set aside 10 percent of registration fees toward monthly scholarships for registered users.

The website  suggests numerous services that registrants may wish to offer, such as accounting, automotive work, house and pet sitting, property management, tutoring, catering, and many more. If you aren’t particularly skilled in any of those areas, the website also suggests that timeshares, cabins, hunting property, recreational vehicles, or boats can be posted if owners are willing to barter for the use of the items or even trade them outright for instruction.

Thoen said she was inspired to create the website after running out of funds to pay for her own training. Discharged from the U.S. Army in January, she had applied for flight training assistance through the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. She has been unable to get full credit for her active duty time from the Department of Veterans Affairs and is just 16 hours away from completing her private pilot certificate.

“My business isn’t just targeting” primary student pilots, Thoen said. “I want to find CFIs of all ranks of experience who are willing to barter with students all the way up to ATP.”


By Jill W. Tallman – AOPA

New, Revolutionary Training Method in NZ

Hamilton, New Zealand – CTC Aviation has reached a key milestone in its delivery of an innovative and world-leading training method for a new pilot licence known in the aviation industry as a Multi-crew Pilot License (MPL). The method is revolutionising the way airline pilots are trained and providing benefits to local communities and the New Zealand environment.

CTC Aviation graduated its first six pilots for the MPL earlier this year; they started flying the Airbus A320 aircraft with Monarch Airlines in June. A further 12 cadets for an MPL are now in training at Hamilton through the company’s CTC WINGS program.

CTC Aviation’s Director of Strategic Projects, Anthony Petteford, is a driving force behind the company’s promotion of the MPL to its Partner Airlines and the global industry. He explained, “One of the main differences of the MPL, when compared to the traditional Airline Transport Pilot’s License (ATPL), is the training is more relevant to new-generation airliner flight-decks.”

Traditional Airline Transport Pilot’s License (ATPL) training courses are based upon regulations developed over 50 years ago but CTC Aviation’s approach has always been to differentiate by ensuring that the syllabus is airline orientated, much like the MPL.

However, the fact remains that the traditional route concentrates more on flying a certain number of hours in small training aircraft, than on core competencies and relevance of training. The MPL, by its very nature, retains the spotlight on fine-tuning the specific skills required for tomorrow’s airline pilots.

“In addition to basic skills, MPL focuses on training pilots to work through flight scenarios to gauge possible threats and errors, as well as solutions, prior to every flight and simulator training session.

“This critical thinking doesn’t happen to the same extent when pilots gain their license through the traditional ATPL training method. What’s important to understand, as well, is that trainees cannot learn these skills by simply increasing non-relevant flying hours in a light training aircraft,” explained Mr Petteford.

Mr Petteford said it is important to emphasize that both MPL and ATPL graduates are rigorously tested at the controls of a real airliner before being allowed to fly with passengers as a co-pilot.

The demand for ATPL training route still remains high as MPL requires airlines to be in a position to plan their resource requirement accurately several years in advance. The ATPL option allows for a more immediate requirement to be fulfilled, as pilots can be selected to join an airline towards the end of their training process.

Mr Petteford said the competency-based approach of training for the MPL means pilots are well-prepared for flying an airliner, and that is good news for airlines as they get First Officers who contribute value as crew members from day one.

With MPL, a trainee’s flying-hour requirements in a light aircraft are reduced by as much as 80 hours, with solo flying decreased from 50 hours to just 15.

The remaining training hours are shifted to an airliner flight simulator, normally either a Boeing or Airbus, where cadets train as a ‘crew’ with two trainees and an instructor.

“Putting more trainees through MPL will, over time, reduce our carbon footprint through lower emissions. We’ve calculated for every pilot trained for an MPL as opposed to ATPL, the emissions reduction is similar to taking four cars off the road,” said Mr Petteford.

As of next year, around 60 cadets will be trained through the CTC WINGS MPL Pilot programs.

As CTC Aviation sees an increasing demand for the MPL, the mix of aircraft and simulator hours delivered at the company’s United Kingdom and New Zealand Crew Training Centres will change.

CTC Aviation will increase the number of trainees at its Hamilton Crew Training Centre next year from around 250-300. With more CTC WINGS cadets taking up the MPL route, this allows the company to increase the total number of cadets in training without a significant increase in aircraft movements or carbon emissions. This will also have a beneficial effect upon the local Hamilton economy from the additional students living in the outskirts of the city during their training.

Mr Petteford said the world’s airlines were, at first, cautious to put their trainee pilots through MPL training while they gained an understanding of the new licence and associated training programs.

However, within the past 18 to 24 months, the rate of uptake is rapidly increasing with world-leading airlines such as Lufthansa now training 100% of its new co-plots for an MPL.

“As airlines start to see the benefits of pilots trained for an MPL, we expect the number of airlines seeking an MPL training partner will increase significantly in coming years.

“As that demand takes off, CTC Aviation will be there to provide one of the best MPL programs in the industry, while also opening up career opportunities for our MPL graduates, including New Zealanders,” said Mr Petteford.

Three of CTC Aviation’s airline partners – Monarch Airlines, easyJet and Qatar Airways –put their trainees through the MPL. CTC Aviation is now recruiting trainees, including New Zealanders, for its Qatar Wings MPL program.

Source:  Media Release

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