Youth Movement In Indian Aviation

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If you thought the right-seater on your last regional jet flight could use some acne medication, consider the veritable baby boom going on in the cockpits of some Indian airliners. According to the Times of India, there are 19-year-olds flying as first officers in single-aisle airliners like Boeing 737s and A320s and the four-striper beside them might be as young as 25. "Going by a conservative estimate, currently in India about 5 percent of commanders on single-aisle jet aircraft are under 30 years of age. This trend will only grow," said Capt R. Otaal, general secretary of the Indian Commercial Pilot's Association. The rapid expansion of commercial aviation in India, coupled with the virtual absence of general aviation, have combined for the phenomenon. Otaal said Indian pilots train almost exclusively for airline positions and the training has become very focused. A young pilot can be commercially rated at 18 and, for some airlines, needs just 1,500 hours of right-seat time in an airliner to get control of the wheel. Not everyone is happy about the youth movement, especially given the sometimes-demanding flying conditions in India. "If one becomes a commander after flying as a copilot for only two monsoons, there is a level of risk involved due to lack of experience," an unnamed "aviation observer" told the Times. "One must remember that a 19-year-old copilot may be sharing the cockpit with a 25-year-old commander -- there are hardly any years of experience between them."