Career Opportunities in Aviation Industry
 

Still amongst the better-paid and more attractive jobs going, in popular imagery the profession of a pilot has a special mystique attached to it. So those who do succeed in realizing the almost universal childhood dream of earning their wings are generally a pretty pleased lot. Although the employment scenario has been tight in the last decade, thanks to the waves of change sweeping the ‘civil aviation industry and the entry of several new private and international airlines, more aspirants may be able to realize this dream in the near future.

Aviation sector has opened avenues for Pilots, Co-Pilots, Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, Cabin Crew, Technicians and Ground Duty Service Officers. In 2003-04, India had only three domestic airlines with 123 commercial jets. But today, the scenario has changed.

If a person has a scientific bent of mind, he can opt for a career as a Pilot, Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, etc. and if a person is good at communication and interpersonal skills, she/he can consider a career as an Air Hostess or a Flight Steward.

Commercial pilots are employed by national airlines like Indian Airlines or Air India and by private airlines as well as by foreign airlines. With the Asia Pacific region emerging as the pivot of the world, the aviation industry in India is poised for takeoff. From a mere 175 aircrafts in 2004, it is expected that by 2010 around 400 odd aircrafts will zip across the Indian skies.

The aviation industry employs about 3000 pilots and there is an immediate shortage of 450 planes that will be added to the activity expanding Indian fleet in the next five years and a shortage of additional 4,500 pilots stares us in the face (Total requirement: 7500 pilots by 2010)

Training to be a pilot can be a pretty expensive affair that can push you into a financial air pocket! From April 2001 all DGCA-subsidized rates have been discontinued. However, various states offer separate subsidies of varying amounts up to the PPL stage. Considering the high cost of aviation fuel, you have to pay the steep commercial rate, which is in the region of Rs.2750-3500 per hour. 40 free flying scholarships are awarded to SC/ST trainee pilots every year. Under this scheme, apart from free flying training, student pilots receive financial aid.

While a private school may charge as much as Rs.15-20 lakh, the cost of obtaining a CPL in a government-sponsored school works out to Rs.10 lakh plus boarding and lodging, which add up to another Rs.1, 500/- p.m.

Salaries for commercial pilots are very attractive, ranging anywhere from Rs.40, 000/- to whopping Rs.4 lakh p.m., depending on the airline. Besides the obvious thrill of going places and seeing the world in five-star comfort, there are several attractive perks that go with the job.

Where to Look for Work:
Besides Indian there are several private airlines like Jet Airways, Sahara, Air Deccan, Kingfisher, currently expanding their fleet and range of operations in India. There are several other international airlines that operate through India like United Airlines, Air Canada, Virgin Atlantic, Quantas, KLM, Lufthansa, United Airlines, Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Thai Airways, Malaysian Airlines and China Airlines to name a few.

You could start off as a trainee pilot on smaller aircraft. Besides large corporate houses that own private aircraft, there are about 40 aviation companies in the country that rent out helicopters and small aircraft (for a fee of Rs.30, 000-Rs.1.30 lakh per hour + 15% air travel tax.)

Helicopter Pilots:
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s (HAL) Rotary Wing Academy at Bangaluru would be a good bet. However in compliance with the flight-safety requirements that are being followed worldwide, the DGCA has recently upped the mandatory flying time from the present 100 hours to 150 hours before the CHPL can be issued. So correspondingly, the earlier fee of Rs.10 lakh, which makes it rather steep. Also I’ve heard some rumblings about the non-availability of training aircraft. But on the flip side, the placements for helicopter pilots are far better than their CPL counterparts.

Lest you think this is only a male prerogative, remember Indian Airlines was the first to have a women pilot (Durba Bannerjee) command the wide bodied Airbus 300 way back in the early 60’s. Today it has scores of women Airbus pilots on its rolls. The Indian Air Force has over 200.

Aptitude
There are certain attributes to be a Pilot. First of all, one should not be afraid of heights and should have a passion to fly those machines. One should possess a good coordination of mind and limbs. The ability to remain calm under any circumstance and apply theoretical knowledge into practice while flying is very important.

A Pilot has to be quick thinker as he is the one who is responsible for the lives of many. One should have patience, commitment, responsibility and self-confidence. A lot of hard work, stamina, adaptability to follow difficult time schedules, good team spirit etc., are also required in an aspirant. Most importantly, one must have emotional stability in crisis situations.

Eligibility
To get a CPL, one should have passed 10+2 examination with Physics and Mathematics and must be between the age of 18-30 years. The minimum height should be 5 feet and eyesight 6/6.

Air Hostess / Flight Steward
The trouble free, comfortable and safe journey of a passenger is of prime importance to the aviation sector. In this regard, it is an Air Hostess / Flight Steward whose role becomes really crucial as they are the first one to welcome passengers aboard an aircraft.

Their job also includes giving instructions to the passengers on how to use safety measures during crisis, catering foods and drinks to the passengers and answering passengers| inquiries on facilities and services. They are supposed to provide First Aid to passengers who feel sick.

By the count, the various airlines in the country have almost 10,207 Cabin Crew members in 2007-08 and the number is expected to grow to almost 20,284 by 2011-12.

Aptitude:
To be an Air Hostess or a Flight Steward, one should have common sense, sense of responsibility, initiative quality, friendly outgoing personality, politeness, physical stamina and the capacity to work for long hours on the feet.

The ability to react quickly in time of emergency, presence of mind, systematic approach, unruffled appearance, a well-modulated pleasant voice and a proportionate figure with a graceful carriage are the important traits required in an Air hostess or a Flight Steward.

Eligibility
The educational qualification for an Air Hostess / Flight Steward training programme is 10+2 or a graduate degree with a diploma / degree in Hotel Management or Tourism Management. The aspirant must be eligible to hold an Indian Passport and should be below twenty-five years of age with proportionate weight and height.

Further, one must be unmarried, with normal eyesight of 6/6 increased vision in each eye. Fluency in English, Hindi and knowledge of an international language is an added advantage.

Selection Procedure
The applicant should be physically fit with a pleasing personality and clear complexion. After the initial screening of applicants is completed, the airline company calls them for a written examination, usually of the objective type (multiple choice).

Those who qualify in the written examination have to appear for a group discussion followed by a personal interview of successful candidates. If selected, the applicant will be on training for two to three months in which one can learn about service, grooming, safety and first aid, after which one is initially put on trainee flights.

Flight Training
The flight training covers several topics, each of which deals with technical or nontechnical aspects of the aircraft.

Beginning with the history of aviation, the candidates are made to learn in-flight service, passenger handling, passenger psychology, service of meals on the aircraft, the art of conversation, transactional analysis, emergency evacuation system, personal grooming and hygiene, First Aid, confidence building, handling of visually impaired passengers, making announcements, emergency demonstration, etc.

Prospects
There is a great demand for Air Hostesses/Flight Stewards in the Aviation sector.

Flight Purser
After three to five years, depending upon your performance, Flight Steward/Air Hostess is eligible to become a Flight Purser. Your responsibilities increase as you take over the charge of the Cabin Crew on board. Salaries generally get double up.

Ground Job:
You can join here directly or after having served on the flight for long, you can opt for ground jobs in sections like staff-training and human resource management in the corporate office.

Remuneration
The Cabin Crew can get up to Rs.40, 000 per month for domestic flights whereas upto Rs.1, 50,000 for international flights on wide-bodied aircrafts. The ground staff can also earn Rs.20, 000 - Rs.30, 000 per month.

Aircraft Maintenance Engineer
The Aircraft Maintenance Engineers play a stellar role in Aviation sector as they are the ones who ensure that the aircraft is in a perfect condition before take-off. An engineer needs to be completely focused on safety as the casual attitude can pose a danger to the lives of people on board.

The Aircraft Engineer has to certify the aircraft fit for release. The job ensures the availability of safe aircraft at the best possible cost. The Engineering and Maintenance department of an airline performs scheduled and unscheduled tasks, leading to restoration of the expected airworthiness.

The job includes diagnostic and mechanical duties covering maintenance, repair, trouble shooting and overhaul, in addition to performing inspection and modification on an aircraft.

Aptitude
An Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, at times, has to work under stringent conditions, tough deadlines and harsh weather in difficult locations. To overcome all this, one should be logical, focused and have perseverance.

Eligibility
The basic and minimum qualification required to be an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer is a Senior School Certificate with Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics as main subjects. Candidates are required to undergo a 3-year certificate course on aircraft maintenance engineering, conducted by various training schools approved by the Director-General of Civil Aviation.

Candidates also need to undergo structured aircraft type courses in the mechanical or avionics stream and obtain regulatory licences or approvals on a type of aircraft. Candidates need an engineering degree for career in support services in technical services, engineering planning quality assurance and logistics. Courses on structured aircraft type maintenance are also desirable.

Other Jobs
Flight and Ground Instructors:
The Flight Instructors give training to the Pilots on some systems and are mainly with engineering background. On the other hand, the Ground Instructors are from operations background.

Flight Instructors are usually senior Pilots who are employed within the airline. They usually perform line duties as they are not released due to shortage of pilots.

Flight Despatchers :
Flight Dispatchers| are those people who give a briefing to the Pilots before a flight on the weather, flight path and optimising the flight.

Factor Facilitators :
The Factor Facilitators give training to the cockpit and cabin crew on resource management. They also undertake joint sessions of cabin crew, engineers and cockpit crew on working together.

Aviation Psychologists :
The Factor Facilitators give training to the cockpit and cabin crew on resource management. They also undertake joint sessions of cabin crew, engineers and cockpit crew on working together.

The Aviation Psychologists assess the attitudes of the Pilots through psychometric tests. They also guide the young cabin crew to overcome the problems faced by them at their job.

Aviation Doctors:
The Aviation Doctors conduct a rigorous medical check-up of the Pilots and other employees as per the norms of Aviation Medicine and the Central Medicine Establishment, both run by the Air Force. The airlines have to look thir slots months’ in advance due to high rush of employees from different airlines.

The white-collar jobs on the ground, airport and custom services-people who do check-in, ticketing, etc., are also on the rise. After acquiring Air Sahara, Jet Airways has 11,000 people as its employees whereas Sahara (renamed JetLite) has 4,000 people.

Prospects:
With the privatisation and foreign collaboration increasing everyday, the future is very bright in Aviation sector. Most airline offices are looking to increasing their fleet and this itself is opening avenues for the aspirants.

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