Indian Pilot License Being Issued After Just 35 Minutes In The Air?

Filed Under: Security/TSA

The aviation industry in India is especially interesting, both because it does seem to have some serious issues, but at the same time the media there is more sensationalist when it comes to airlines than the Daily Mail, which makes it tough to figure out what’s really going on sometimes.

That being said, Bloomberg published an interesting article yesterday about pilot license fraud in India, entitled “You Can Get a Pilot License in India After Just 35 Minutes in 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 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.”

Based on the article it appears as if:

  • This isn’t new, and has been going on since the 1960s (I assume some fudging of log books goes on in most parts of the world, but probably not quite as extreme as the example above)
  • Obviously most airlines have training and tests, so they’re not going to put someone who has never flown at the controls of a commercial plane (I hope!)

Still, that certainly doesn’t instill any confidence in the Indian aviation industry!

If you have a few minutes, give the full article a read, as it’s quite interesting.


(Tip of the hat to TravelinWilly)

  1. It seems like India’s media is hell-bent on ensuring India’s commercial aviation sector completely fails. But, if even a fraction of what the media reports is actually true, then that’s probably not such a bad thing. Seems no good news is coming out of the subcontinent these days. At least not where flying is concerned.

  2. It’s not just the media that is sensationalist about this airline, but the media all-around the world, along with travel bloggers alike. While I haven’t flown AI in nearly 20 years, their security and safety record is pretty damn good – they’ve haven’t just lost an airplane or have had suicidal pilots (and no, the pilot and first officer having a tiff does not count). I also find it quite amusing that more often than not, it’s the ones who’ve never flown the airline (or reviewed it) are quickest to criticize.

  3. Given a lot of the stories I’ve heard from Friends that live or have lived in India, this wouldn’t suprise me at all. Pretty much anything can be fudged, solved, done there to a payment or two to those in charge.

  4. Im legally blind do you think I could get my pilots license over there ?
    I’ve always wanted to fly a large passenger jet
    Ill even take a training lesson for up to an hour :);)

  5. Flying AI has no bearing on the apparent testimony of Anupam Verma. He was given a subsidy of $44000.00 by the government and the industry still needed to cut corners to give him a license. It is a serious lack of moral fibre. No apparent thought given to the consequences. This poor chap will never have a career in commercial aviation!

  6. Lucky, I’ve been reading your blog religiously for the past 4 + years and this is the one time you’ve actually annoyed me and because of this loyalty I believe I deserve an answer for this. What on earth is an air India picture doing there if it’s nothing to do with AI. Yeah they’re may be stories related but it’s not anything to do with this article. That’s like me sticking a pic of bin Laden next to mh370. I didn’t realise you were as bad as fox news.

  7. @ Nikhil Kumar — Sorry if it offended you. The post is about the Indian aviation market, and that’s the only appropriate picture I had. Will hopefully go to India again soon so I can snap more random plane pictures. 🙂

  8. This seems as bizarre as the story of a brand new Air India 787 Dreamliner being used for parts, so using an Air India picture to represent the Indian aviation market seems fitting.

  9. The rumour is that these pilots are mostly employed by new low cost carriers. Air India and Jet Airways have some very fine personal as crew, its only the management which has failed IMO.

  10. why is the whole travel blogger community hell bent on killing AI and indian aviation? It is not as bizzare as it is exaggerated here. Seriously lucky try AI. It is not a bad airline. Joining the ‘criticize AI’ bandwagon will make you lose your credibility.

  11. Why was a picture of Air India in this article. Even if it were true that pilots were getting fraudulent licenses (which it is not) its much more likely such pilots would be flying for Emirates than for Air India. Most Air India pilots are ex Indian Air Force with 15+ years in military aviation before they converted to civil flying. Emirates on the other hand depends on pretty airhostesses and strong drinks to make people forget that they skimp on pilots in order to make mlti million dollar ads with Hollywood stars. Emirates is much more likely to hire cut rate pilots than Air India which is strongly unionized.
    I like this blog but I am noticing a strongly Anti Indian bias in the posts. If this had been El-Al people would have been shouting Anti-semitism already.
    Fix it.

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