Boeing has projected that the largest projected growth in pilot demands would be in the Asia Pacific region with a requirement for 192,300 new pilots over the next 20 years. With demand surging in emerging markets, there certainly is urgent need to put up training institutions in place. Seeing opportunity in this sector, InterGlobe Enterprises and CAE have joined hands in a 50:50 venture and set up one of the most modern training centres in the world, right here in Greater Noida. At the press conference, post the opening ceremony, the Editor-in-Chief of SP's AirBuz, Jayant Baranwal raised several issues with regard to training and the airline industry, per se. The Group Managing Director of InterGlobe, Rahul Bhatia and the President and Chief Executive Officer of CAE, Marc Parent, responded to the questions.
Rahul Bhatia explained how the 'religion' in Indigo would continue to keep fares low, though there would be an interplay of high cost of fuel and dollar-rupee volatility. He also indicated that they were not shy of competition, but were themselves keen on expanding. By the end of 2014, the airline would be operating 85 aircraft and that they were optimistic that the airline deserved more airplanes.
SP's AirBuz (SP's): What are your plans for expansion, if any at this time? Do you see any impact on operations of IndiGo in view of the Tata-Air Asia and Tata-Singapore airline ventures coming up in India?
Rahul: We have work cut out for ourselves in Indigo. Our immediate plans for growth the focus is to build on the airline. I would prefer not to talk about Tata-SIA, I don't know the airline. At the genetically level we are in competition. India is an enormously underserved market and deserves many players to come... There is room for everyone to survive and prosper. We very much welcome them to be part of this growing aviation market.
SP's: What is unique about this training centre compared to other facilities that exist in india?
Marc Parent (Marc): Certainly it is modern. The simulators are the most advanced simulators we have ...5000 series of airbus 320. The architecture is the latest generation that takes into account all lessons we have had all around the world. It is the most modern among the 42 training centres we have.
SP's: Any bias towards Airbus-centric training?
Marc: Airbus is certainly increasingly using the training centre for its customers. It is an Airbus authorised training centre, offer local training to its customers here. It is not airbus centric....we have simulators of other major aircraft that represents the diversity of the aircraft in India.
SP's: India is still in the nascent stage in terms of key infrastructure including the pool of quality pilots... what solutions do you plan to provide the operators/owners in India with?
Rahul: The fact that we are putting up a world class training centre with the potential of scale growing to six possibly eight in time is reflective of time that it is going to embrace the opportunity of what we see in the long run. We want to have cadet training to bring high quality individuals who can fly safely. We are kind of exploring of setting up training facility for aircraft maintenance engineers.
SP's: Have you spoken to the military of the kind of training you offer?
Marc: We have 300 employees here and the head over here goes looking for both civil and military business. We are discussing with the military considering that there are going to be acquisitions.
SP's: As CAE President how would you compare the talents of military and commercial pilots? Who is more capable?
Marc: The mission is very different but safety remains common. Training is to ensure that the pilot is ready to fly either military bomber, fighter, helicopter effectively and safely... same goes for commercial. In India, the DGCA is working towards world class standards of flying and safety of aircraft.
SP's: Will the joint venture offer training to General aviation aircraft in addition to large aircraft?
Marc: The centre will offer for training facility for business jets too, however, the Board would look at it as and when there is a case for business jets simulation training.
SP's: How do you compare training infrastructure in India and China?
Marc: The good thing about this that in terms international standardisation and safety there is very little difference. Just like India grows leaps and bounds, China is growing too... and both will not want to have any black mark when it comes to airline operations, training or flight safety. You will find very similar kind of training infrastructure. However, I must say this is a very modern facility here.
SP's: The very quality of pilot training is critical ....... how do you perceive that?
Marc: We work with regulators throughout the world. The training standards are getting standardised around the world to a level of safety which is increasing. We are working towards elevating safety standards and in India and the DGCA is very active in this.
At CAE all we do is simulation and training. We spend 10 per cent in R&D to ensure that we have the best training tools in the industry and also to be cost effective. We have been selected by different OEMs to do simulators and they include Bombardier C-Series, ATR 600, ARJ21, COMAC etc. Our simulators are not just meant for training pilots, but also are used for certifying aircraft.
SP's: What is your vision behind this partnership?
Rahul: To work with the best in the business.