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AI exploring partner for its Training Centre

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Mumbai, Apr 17 (UNI) National Carrier Air India(AI) is exploring the possibility of an alliance with a partner to set up a training centre for its in-house requirements of pilots for the new fleet of Aircrafts.

Addressing the mediapersons here today, AI CMD V Tulsidas said that the airline was exploring various options including discussions with Boeing and Hyderabad-based Indira Gandhi Academy for setting up a centre to recruit qualified youths and train them as pilots.

The measure is to equip the company for operating the new version of Boeing-777, delivery for which are expected to begin from November this year as a part of 68 bulk purchase of the new generation aircrafts. ''We may also send young people for training abroad'', he said.

The carrier has been badly hit from piolt shortage and is unable to operate full capacity of its fleet. This has forced the airlines either to hire foreign commanders 'on contract' to fly its long-haul aircrafts or trai its personnels to fly the new aircrafts. AI has 65 expartriate out of over 600 pilots on its pay-roll.

Mr Tulsidas said that the company has gone through a very difficult time during the year 2005, and the same trend may continue through the currect year upto the middle of the next year. This is mainly due to capacity constrains and also non-availability of aircrafts on lease and adequate number of pilots.

On April 1, the national carrier had to cancell one flight from New Delhi to Los Angles, USA due to grouding of a Boeing aircraft that encountered three similar tyre bursting incidents in the last one year. Of the three, one had occurred at Los Angles airport last year and the two were in Delhi, April 1, being the last one.

AI management was forced to set up high profile enquiry committee to go into the details of the events in collaboration with Director General of Civil Aviation(DGCA) and also National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) of USA and come out with specific reasons of recurring the same problems, Mr Tulsidas said.

Unless the aircraft receive clearance for further flying and the committe completes its investigations, the carrier would remain grounded, resulting an impact on the revenue earning of the airline, he said.

''We can not compromise with the safety norms of the regulatory authorities...we are committed to safety as a paramount importance to our operation as well passengers'', he observed.

AI would still come out with marginal profit for the fiscal year ending March 2006, he added.

UNI GC PP AG2056

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