Air India has been granted approval by India's aviation regulator to allow for pilots to train for the operation of two types of Boeing widebody aircraft.
After a request made to India's Directorate General Civil Aviation (DGCA), Air India will be able to start a mixed fleet trial for pilots to operate the two widebody Boeing aircraft types – the 787 and the 777.
During the initial trial, eight pilot examiners – those who certify other pilots – who primarily operate 787s and 777s will undergo ground and simulator training for mixed fleet operations. Following the training, the pilots will be able to fly a minimum of 150 hours on the secondary aircraft type, including a minimum of 10 landings.
In a report from The Hindi, a senior DGCA official was quoted saying the trial “will enable us to collect empirical data and decide on the future course of action on scaling up the trial.” The official further stated that 16 countries around the world allow interchangeability of pilots done in a phased manner. “The demand has been there for quite sometime, but such a decision involves extensive due diligence which is why it took time,” the official added.
The approval comes as Air India is facing a pilot shortage as it further boosts its fleet. It will make the airline the first in the country to have such approval.
In an internal message to Air India employees, Air India CEO Campbell Wilson stated the decision would enable “captains on both fleets to operate either type, expanding their experience, professional development, variety and operating scope, as well as according the company more resilience and flexibility.”