Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The "Issue" of Expat Pilots

It certainly didn't take long for someone to try and draw some conclusion between the nationality of the pilot in Saturday's tragic plane crash in Mangalore and the growing "issue" of expat pilots in India.

Prior to my assignment, I wasn't even aware of this phenomenon but have had the good fortune of meeting two of the pilots that the post below suggests might need more scrutiny. I don't agree. Personally, it seems a little soon and extremely inappropriate to draw any sort of conclusion that might insinuate that nationality had anything to do with causing a crash.

In my opinion, the cultural issues described below have little, if any, merit. Not to sound like the uni-lingual English-speaking yank that I am, but I was under the impression that all commercial air traffic control was conducted in English, whether you're in the US, India, Tanzania, or Argentina. Of course, my research is scant so I could be wrong.

Professionally, pilots are a little like surgeons; you want them to learn as long as you're not the customer. So the training issue is an interesting one. Obviously, there are other ways for pilots to get hours; however, it will be interesting to see what happens when we get to July 31, 2011 (which is the date by which expat pilots should be phased out). If there's not "a good plan in place to promote Indian pilots" by that time (and I'm defining "good plan" as one that leads to qualified pilots), I might need to rethink domestic travel plans.

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