Vistara served notice over pilot training violations

09 April,2024 07:05 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Prasun Choudhari

The DGCA has raised questions over the conversion training for pilots operating a different type of aircraft

The DGCA has raised questions over a procedure called Zero Flight Time Training. File pic

Key Highlights

TATA-owned Vistara Airlines gets another major blow from aviation regulator DGCA when the airline already has a stretched pilot roster. Training of about 30 Vistara pilots is on hold after the civil aviation regulator asked the airline to explain the alleged violation of rules. The pilots were slated to operate Boeing 787 aircraft, which the airline uses on European routes.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has raised questions over a procedure called Zero Flight Time Training (ZFTT). When a pilot has to undergo conversion training for operating a different type of aircraft, he has to undergo multiple stages of training. A Vistara spokesperson confirmed it has received a show-cause notice from the regulator, stating, "We are in receipt of a show-cause notice from DGCA and are in discussions with the regulator on this subject,"

An official from DGCA explaining the ZFTT in an easy term said, "As part of the ZFTT, following a skill test, which is a demonstration of the skills taught during the training course on a new aircraft type in a simulator, pilots need to complete aircraft landing training in an actual plane. However, experienced pilots with more than 500 hours of flying experience are eligible to conduct this training in a simulator."

"Under DGCA rules, the training must be completed within 45 days after completing the skill test. An audit conducted by us found that multiple Vistara pilots hadn't done the training within the timeline but they have been scheduled to do the next stage of the course, which is Supervised Line Flying (SLF), where the pilot operates an aircraft with passengers under supervision of a trainer." said a senior official from DGCA familiar with the matter

Sources from Vistara revealed, due to the DGCA show-cause notice, the next stage of training is halted. "The pilots have to go to Singapore for the simulator training. Visa takes time and the availability of slots in a simulator is very tight. Calculating that time, the ZFTT was slotted but it has violated the DGCA guidelines, that are very clear. The regulator will not compromise with a gap in training and safety," said another staffer aware of the development.

"In 2022, DGCA had levied a fine of Rs 10 lakh on the airline for violating rules of training. Vistara has been forced to cancel more than 100 flights over the last few days due to the unavailability of pilots. Multiple first officers of Vistara had hit the limit of 100 hours of allowed flying per month, leaving the airline without any buffer," the staffer added.

Vistara CEO Vinod Kannan in a media statement said that the airline had high utilisation of pilots and faced challenges due to disruptions. "We are continuing to hire more pilots and are also carefully scaling back our operations slightly to provide the much-needed resilience, and a buffer in the rosters," he said in his media statement.

Stages of training

>> First stage: Training in a simulator
>> Second Stage: Skill test in a simulator
>> Third stage: Landing and take-off training in an actual aircraft or an experienced pilot can do this in a simulator
>> Last stage: Supervised Line Flying, when the pilot operates an aircraft with passengers under supervision.

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