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Friday, August 1, 2008

Helicopter Training: From the Factories

R&W Staff

Interest Rises in India In Helicopter Work

As commercial airlines cut workforces and fleet sizes to counter rising fuel costs and falling traffic, aspiring pilots in India may be turning their attention to rotary-wing flight decks.

The Rotary Wing Academy there reports what its leaders call an unprecedented rise in interest in training from potential students. The school is run by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and claims to be the only civilian helicopter training school in the region. Much interest is coming from commercial fixed-wing pilots seeking to re-train as helicopter pilots.

Clearly "the conversions to rotary wing are happening because the fixed-wing market is saturated," Wing Commander C.D. Upadhyay told The Hindu Business Line. A retired Indian Air Force pilot, Upadhyay runs the academy and is chief rotary-wing test pilot.

The school trains 8-10 students a year and has graduated 70 holders of commercial helicopter pilot’s licenses. For the class scheduled to start in September, school officials said, 15 students are enrolled and some are on a waiting list.

"There is never a glut of commercial helicopter pilots," the school’s chief flight instructor, H.S. Premkumar, told The Hindu Business Line. "Our candidates are landing jobs as soon as they complete the mandatory 150 flying hours."

India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation has said it wants 100 commercial helicopter pilots trained each year.

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