Government Pilot Back at Work, Sort Of

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And in the central Indian state of Maharashtra, pilots are apparently so scarce that the departure of the two pilots qualified to fly the stateís King Airs caused the whole flight department to shut down six months ago. The department has managed to lure one of the pilots, Capt. Neetu Gupta, back, but it still needs one more before the Chief Minister can use the planes again (heís been getting around in helicopters since July). According to Mid-day, a Mumbai newspaper, Gupta left her government job for a shot at the right seat in an A320 operated by Kingfisher, a new Indian airline, but it didnít work out so well.

The paper quotes Airbus sources as saying Gupta failed to qualify in the A320, which Gupta neither confirms nor denies. According to the newspaper, however, her new (and old) boss Captain Y. P. Kothari, Director of Aviation, Government of Maharashtra, defended the hire saying Gupta is a very talented pilot. Gupta, now 27, became Indiaís youngest female commercial pilot at the age of 19 and was the co-pilot of the Chief Ministerís King Air 350 before trying out with Kingfisher.