Sunday, December 16, 2007

'Near Misses' is not a term to unnecessarily worry about

Click to view a larger image.

This message issued by the DGCA (Director General of Civil Aviation - the equivalent of FAA in the US) appeared in the newspapers during "Air Safety Week". Air traffic has grown considerably in Hyderabad from just a few flights a day to over 125 per day. The current airport, called Begumpet Airport, is also shared by an Air Force station. In March 2008, Hyderabad is scheduled to get a world class airport (although the road connecting to it is not going to be completed by then!!) It is a well known fact that the current infrastructure is inadequate to support such a rapid growth. As airlines continue to buy more planes, they are trying various ways to find people to fly them. One of the ways this shortage is addressed is by hiring pilots from abroad. Some of the foreign pilots from Eastern Europe, Brazil and Indonesia are rejected because they are not proficient in English. On the other hand, pilots above 60 who cannot fly in their own countries find jobs in India because the DGCA has raised the age limit to 65 because of the shortage of pilots. (Just this week the US Senate also passed the legislation to increase the mandatory retirement age to 65.) Another way this is being addressed is by reducing the required hours from 250 to 200 to qualify for the Commercial Pilot License!! You would think you need more experience to deal with increasing traffic, not less! It is common to see reports of near misses in the newspapers. You also see TV images of planes that have skidded off the runway. Every winter (which is now) you see TV reports of hundreds of domestic flights grounded at the New Delhi airport which is fogged in because most of the domestic airlines don't have pilots trained in using the Category III Instrument Landing System which is used in fog. Once in a while you read reports of one plane clipping the wings of another while taxiing. The DGCA itself has less staff as compared to 4 years ago when there were fewer airlines and fewer flights. There is dissatisfaction among Indian pilots because foreign pilots are being paid much more (you don't want a dissatisfied pilot flying your plane, do you?) Many Indian students are rushing abroad to get a license (and a disproportionate number of them are dying in accidents). After they get a commercial license, they are required to get certified here. Recently, an "examiner" who certifies them was in the news who charged a hefty amount to these students and certified them without even asking them to get into the cockpit or to take an exam! If you knew all these things are going on, would you feel reassured by reading such "informational messages"?

This site has a lot of news items about Indian aviation. To read about the safety issues, enter "safety" in the search box there.

"I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather... not screaming and yelling like all the passengers in his car." -Unknown

"Flying isn't dangerous. Crashing is what is dangerous." -Unknown

Tower: "Delta 351, you have traffic at 10 o'clock, 6 miles!"
Delta 351: "Give us another hint! We have digital watches!"

Control Tower to a 747: "United 329, your traffic is a Fokker, 1 o'clock, 3 miles, Eastbound"
United 329: "Approach, I've always wanted to say this... I've got the little Fokker in sight."


zakscloset said...

wow! that's crazy!!! only 200 hours required for a commercial pilot? i have about 120, maybe i should reconsider my career, haha!

Hyderabad Daily Photo said...
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zakscloset said...

wow, thanks for the info! i didn't do instrument rating since i ran out of money...sad. i mostly flew in northern california. it would be super nice to fly over india! and i'm glad i made a pilot friend (you) on a blog!!

Hyderabad Daily Photo said...
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Ash said...

Hilarious quotes you provide!!!
Had me in splits.

zakscloset said...

ooops, i don't know what happened, i was typing and it disappeared. i hope you didn't get this twice, and hope you are not too annoyed by all my comments by now! i took my first flight lessons in san carlos and then finished in hayward. i did fly to/from palo alto and livermoor too. i would LOVE to fly over india! that would be an amazing experience. i bet it's not as expensive to rent an aircraft in india as in the us...?

sam said...

hehe, interesting post and cool quotes!

Web-OJ said...

Oh.. I'm relaxed now. Yippe for our Indian Gov.!