M A I N   N E W S

And now, IA pilots’ training scam
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 23
There is literally a “storm” blowing in the public sector carrier Indian Airlines over the improper outsourcing of pilots' training to an English firm when the same equipment (simulators) was also available with the airline at its academy at Hyderabad and now leading to a court case for the recovery of damages by the firm to which the job had been contracted and later withdrawn.

Sources in the airline disclosed that not only was the corporation facing the case for the recovery of damages which run into crores but the internal inquiry carried out suggested that the contract with the English firm was signed by unauthorised persons and apparently after creating artificial manpower shortage.

What is further damaging for the airline is that the main person concerned in the deal, which was signed last year and later withdrawn, had actually retired from the corporation. Further the contract was signed in England and now with the laws of the land prevailing the airline could well end up paying huge amount of damages for the breaking of the contractual obligations.

Sources also said that with the internal inquiry pointing to gross misconduct by the officials involved in the deal, there was a possibility of the case actually being referred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for further investigations.

According to reports, the Indian Airlines had last year signed a contract with an English firm, Storm Aviation, for the training of its new pilots for flying the A-320 aircraft. The contract was apparently signed for training for a particular number of pilots over a certain period.

The airline while proposing to outsource the training for the pilots had pointed to a shortage of instructors at its academy in Hyderabad which has the similar simulators for training the pilots for flying the A-320 aircraft. The shortage of pilots apparently came up as the public sector carrier ignored making some of its pilots as instructors and allowed the shortage to crop up.

Incidentally, Indian Airlines charges more than Rs 20 lakh per pilot to give specialised training to independent pilots wanting to fly A-320 aircraft and were wishing to use its training simulator facilities.

However, the public sector carrier went ahead to sign the contract with Storm Aviation and that too in England. The contract was also apparently signed by a person who is said to have been not authorised to do so.

What has now emerged is that after a new officer took over it came to light that such outsourcing was not needed and the training could have taken place at Hyderabad. The Indian Airlines immediately went into an aggressive mode and cancelled the contract even when about five of its pilots had actually been given training by the same English firm at its facilities.

In the meantime more pilot instructors were appointed at Hyderabad and the training of pilots was shifted back to the Indian Airline academy.

But now the airline is facing a case in England for the recovery of damages by the Storm Aviation as while signing the contract no such precaution was taken to ensure that it should be as per Indian laws and that there should be a clause for exit from the contract itself.

What is further interesting is that apparently the English firm also further outsourced the training of pilots to another firm in Dubai rather than training them on its facilities. The Indian Airlines while signing the contract took no precaution in the this regard too.

Sources point out that if the Indian Airlines loses the case it could well end up paying crore to the English firm for something which could have been done internally. Reports suggested that with such gross misconduct there was a possibility that the case could be reffered to the CBI and the Indian Airlines itself.


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