Experts lament the shortage of aircraft engineers amid the growing aviation sector. Latest News India


While Indian airlines are hiring pilots and cabin crew on a large number of aircraft orders and are trying to meet the demand with some flying schools in the domestic and international markets, industry experts says that not much attention is being paid to this side. The current shortage and potential demand for Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (AMEs), who also fall under the licensed category of workforce and are equally important for efficient airline operations.

Indian carriers including Tata Group-owned Air India and no-frills IndiGo have placed orders for around 1,200 aircraft with major aircraft makers (Representative photo/Istock)

He says India will need at least 14,000 AMEs in the next eight years.Also read: Domestic passenger traffic up 4.4% in May: DGCA

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Indian carriers including Tata Group-owned Air India and no-frills IndiGo have placed orders with major aircraft makers for around 1,200 aircraft, which will be delivered over the next 10 years. This does not include earlier orders from IndiGo for around 1,000 aircraft, which are being placed with the carrier on an intermittent basis.

A former airline official said that deploying these planes into service would require a large manpower such as pilots, cabin crew and flight dispatchers. Also, these aircraft will require a large number of manpower to maintain and service them.

According to industry estimates, there are about 7,000 AMEs in various aircraft maintenance and repair (MRO) facilities in the country. This does not include AMEs as instructors in various training schools.

Gujarat University professor Dr GK Chokyal said, “Post-Covid air traffic is booming again and major airlines like IndiGo, Air India, Akasa have placed orders for around 2,000 aircraft which will increase to 14,000 in another eight to 10 years. AMEs will be required.” .Also read: Delhi Airport working to increase international passenger capacity: CEO

A four-year engineering course is compulsory

There are about 45 AME schools in India which are authorized by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

For a student aspiring to become an AME, a four-year engineering course is mandatory.

In AME schools, either B1 (mechanical-based courses that focus on aircraft systems such as airframes, engines, and landing gears) or B2 (avionics-based courses that focus on electrical and electronic equipment, instruments, navigation and (focus on radio) is confirmed. systems).

Highlighting the need for AMEs in Indian aviation, an industry expert said on condition of anonymity, “Most airlines are sad because they did not have a strong engineering background or engineering setup. Of course, part of the engineering setup means technicians and infrastructure.”

The second part is fares and logistics, he said, focusing on AME's infrastructure.

“So if you don't have a strong engineering force and infrastructure experience, strong air experience, that airline is not going to be able to perform at its peak.” They said.

Emphasizing that AME institutions need to improve the quality of education by employing good quality teachers and adequate training infrastructure, Chowkyal said, “Intake criteria should be improved to produce good quality engineers. Also needs to be controlled, without a strong engineering setup, no airline can survive.”

'Poor quality of education provided in schools'

An airline official said it takes six years for an individual to become an independent AME. “Even after completing the four-year course, a person has to be trained under an AME to be allowed to lead it and do the work himself. This is because of the poor quality of education imparted in the schools. .

Echoing similar sentiments, a former AME said, “A fair number of students pass out from these institutes every year. However, airlines generally do not consider the quality of AMEs from these schools and their employability skills. Complain about.

AME schools need to improve the quality of education by employing good quality teachers and adequate training infrastructure, he said, adding that “the quality of intake should also be controlled to produce good quality engineers.” need.”

“The rapid expansion of the airline industry in India and significant aircraft orders require a rapid increase in qualified AMEs,” said Rituparna Chakraborty, at various companies including Team Lease, a recruitment and human resource services company. said the independent director.

Traditional AME training, typically 2 to 4 years, should be accelerated through rigorous courses, on-the-job training, and advanced simulations, Chakraborty said.

Emphasizing the need for government and industry support, increased training capacity, and collaboration with international organizations to prevent operational delays and ensure safety, he said, “Leveraging e-learning and technology will improve quality. Can accelerate training while maintaining.”

“A proactive approach is necessary to meet future demands, ensure efficient operation and security of the expanding air fleet, and create employment opportunities in India's aviation sector,” he added. added.

However, of late, it seems that the major players have started focusing on this important manpower along with hiring pilots and training cabin crew.

While Air India is launching its pilot training school, the GMR Group, which owns India's largest airframe maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) company, is coming up with a school for AMEs. The course of the first batch of which will start from next mid. month

“GMR Aerotechnics has stepped into the field of skill development by setting up GMR School of Aviation to train a large number of engineers,” said Ashok Gopinath, President and Managing Director, GMR Aerotechnics. said

The Hyderabad-based school, established in collaboration with European aviation major Airbus, will offer a globally recognized four-year programme, with two years of academic training at its MRO, located a few meters away from the school. Includes study and two years of training.

“We often encounter gaps in training when new hires join our MRO, leaving them less than industry-ready. This requires additional training, resulting in overtime. Damage happens,” he said.

GMR has partnered with Airbus to provide courseware in the form of technical books, exam databases and access to the Airbus Competence Training (ACT) package. According to him, Airbus will also train the GMR instructors while reviewing the training center. It will train students for both B1 and B2 licenses.

“India is in dire need of such institutes and it is hoped that this school will also improve the quality of engineers produced in the country,” concluded the AME.

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