MOSCOW, December 13. /ITAR-TASS/. A bill that in case of approval may result in permission to foreign pilots to work for Russian airlines will be presented for consideration in the State Duma, the official site says. The draft law with amendments to the existing laws on aviation employment was drawn up by the Transport Ministry and approved by the government on December 5.According to the Cabinet of Ministers, “Russia in recent years has encountered a lack of qualified flight personnel, primarily air pilots.” The government blames the current situation on the shortage of flight school graduates (initial training) - in 1995-2009 their number did not exceed 160, while about 700 specialists leave the profession annually for different reasons. Besides, the training flight personnel for new types of aircraft takes no less than 3-4 years, while re-training a co-pilot for the pilot-in-command position requires 6-8 years following flight school graduation.
Civil aviation now needs an annual influx of 1,100-1,500 specialists. The existing staff shortage forces air carriers to use less skilled pilots. Also, airlines have difficulty satisfying the increasing demand for passenger and cargo air services, the bill’s accompanying memo says. The government hopes that attracting foreign pilots will help Russian airlines cope with this personnel shortage.
A member of the State Duma’s transport committee, head of the sub-committee for air transport Andrey Andreyev (of the Communist party), told Itar-Tass the Duma would likely discuss the initiative in spring. He said the issue “is being actively discussed within professional community” and found both supporters and opponents. Either side, he said, presented solid arguments.
“The country really suffers flight personnel scarcity,” Andreyev admitted. “Such a resource as retiring military pilots has been largely depleted, while retraining flight engineers to pilots may often entail fatal mistakes and tragedies, like the one at Kazan’s airport last month.”
Andreyev confirmed the transport committee “will consider the bill as soon as it comes from the government.” He declined to make forecasts but assumed that “a heated discussion” was ahead.