Air India Fails To Attract Aging Pilots

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Desperate for pilots to fill the cockpits of its expanding fleet, Air India made a deal with the Indian air force to offer a new career option to military pilots age 54 and over. But so far only nine pilots have agreed to join the airline, though dozens more are eligible, the Hindustan Times reported on Tuesday. "Civil aviation flying testing procedure is over-hyped and impractical, whereas the IAF procedure is more practical, result-oriented and operates within flight safety envelopes," a senior IAF official told the Times. The air force said it is not trying to get rid of the older pilots, but just trying to help out the struggling civilian sector. "At this age, an IAF pilot would have contributed adequately to the force," the IAF said in a statement. "To enable them to seek a second career option would help in utilizing their duties in civil aviation flying, where one can fly till 65 years of age."

Air India currently has 777 pilots, including 117 expatriates, but needs 200 more, the Times said.