Notwithstanding the slowdown in the aviation sector, the Punjab government is planning to set up a flying training institute (FTI) in Ludhiana. The state government has submitted its proposal to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for approval. If the proposal is approved, this would be the third FTI in the state.
"We have submitted the proposal for developing a flying training institute in Ludhiana and expect to get permission very soon. Initially, we will start with three aircraft; more may be added late, according to the demand," said Viswajeet Khanna, principal secretary, civil aviation, Punjab.
Presently, the state government is running two flying clubs, the Patiala Aviation Club and the Amritsar Aviation Club, with an intake capacity of 20 students each. These flying clubs has seven operational aircraft, including Cessna 172, Cessna 152 and a twin-engine Beech Hawker Baron G58 trainer aircraft.
Khanna mentioned that they have the latest aircraft to train students, like the Cessna 172, which has a glass cockpit.
He also mentioned that the twin-engined Beech Hawker was equipped with fully-digitised glass cockpit, which would enable trainees to undertake flying as per internationally-laid down norms and procedures. The aircraft has a seating capacity of four passengers, besides two seats for the pilot and co-pilot.
As per the industry figures, there is a shortage of 5,000 pilots in the country. India trains less than 200 pilots in a year. So FTIs have good potential. Moreover, in order to meet the shortfall, the carriers have been hiring pilots from outside the country.
Way back in 2009, the state government intended to develop the flying clubs at Ludhiana and Amritsar into worldclass FTIs based on the public-private partnership (PPP) model and decided to let private players operate at least seven single-engines and one twin-engined aircraft, as per DGCA and and Department of Civil Aviation, Punjab standards and guidelines. But the slowdown in the aviation sector proved to be a stumbling block for the plan. So the state government decided to set up an institute on its own. The Flying Club at Amritsar is operational and self sustaining. Now the government’s next target is the is FTI in Ludhiana.