A Pilot Dares to Dream, To Establish a Flight Simulation Training Centre in Delhi NCR
NEW DELHI: As domestic civil aviation market in India continues to register an impressive growth, there is a growing demand for trained pilots. To cater to this demand, a new full-flight simulator training centre is coming up at Gurugram near Delhi’s IGI international airport.
Dubbed as the fastest growing domestic aviation market in the world, India’s civil aviation sector is likely to grow at an annualised 9.3% over the next 20 years, outgrowing the world average of 4.6%.
Aviation major have forecast a requirement for at least 1,600 new passengers and freighter aircraft by 2035. Corresponding increase in the country’s aircraft fleet will result in need of over 24,000 new pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers.
“At present we do not have sufficient flight simulators and training facilities which can keep pace with the growth of civil aviation market in India. The upcoming flight simulator centre will finally emerge as the biggest in the country catering for single-aisle Airbus A 320 and Boeing 737 types of aircraft,’’ said Captain Sachin Khandekar, a pilot with Jet Airways who is the driving force behind the new simulator centre.
He mentioned the new training facility will be the country’s biggest privately owned in Delhi NCR and it will be extended to Mumbai in the times ahead. The total estimated cost of the simulator training facility would be of Rs. 500 crore; which will be fully capable of training professional commercial pilots from India as well as abroad at most economical charges.
The spirit of entrepreneurship in Capt. Khandekar was in search for newer and prospective opportunities. With humble beginnings as a son of a class IV helper, he lived with the family in a Mumbai chawl and completed his initial education in a municipal school.
Adverse circumstances and poor economic conditions did not deter him from being a topper throughout and landing a job with an MNC followed by becoming the Head of Department that took him to London. But his dream of one day flying a plane kept him going. With his savings over the years, Sachin Khandekar earned the wings on his own and completed his training as a commercial pilot.
His thirst for achieving something new pushed him to float a flight simulator project after planning and discussing it among his network of aviation experts and from other chores of society from India and abroad. As a pilot he was aware of the huge gap in supply of flight simulators in civil aviation and wanted to bridge it so that pilots could train in India itself.
The civil aviation industry in India has emerged as one of the fastest growing sectors in the country during the last three years. India is currently considered the third largest domestic civil aviation market in the world.
India’s Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha recently said the country is expected to become the world’s largest domestic civil aviation market in the next 10 to 15 years. According to International Air Transport Association (IATA), India will replace the UK for the third place in civil aviation in 2025.
Driven by liberalization and open sky policy introduced in 1993, low-cost carriers, the Civil Aviation industry has ushered in a new era of expansion with a substantial stress on regional connectivity.
Air traffic in India rose 15.80 per cent year-on-year to 280.24 million passengers during April-February 2017-18. Witnessing a growth of 18.50 per cent over the previous year, total passenger traffic stood at a whopping 264.97 million in 2017. As of January 2019, there are nearly 550 commercial aircraft in operation in India.
In the coming 20 years, Indian companies are likely to purchase 2,100 new planes worth US$ 290 billion. Also, domestic air traffic in India is expected to cross 150 million passengers in 2019 riding on the back of unprecedented capacity induction by airlines.
“India is facing shortage of high end simulators to handle this growing aviation industry and training requirement of pilots. This simulator training centre is expected to be operational by mid 2020 to cater to the need of airlines and professional pilots and saving substantial amount of foreign exchange for the country and also cutting down on time and reducing the overall costs for the carriers,’’ said Captain Khandekar.
Complimenting this Indian aviation growth story under his vision his company has envisaged and entering as a airport developer and a operator in India for greenfield airports in a joint venture with UK’s one of the leading group who are already in collaboration for their Australian mining and Petrochemicals business.
Spread over three acres, the new facility will be constructed in a phased manner with a modular concept with two full flight simulators, increasing the number to four and then to eight in due course. This facility, when fully operational, will have capacity to train over 3500 pilots annually.