The “CFI Feature" features the Chief Flying Instructors of four flight schools in India: IGRUA(click), NFTI, Chimes Aviation Academy(click), and GMR-APFT (in no particular order). The first two institutes are managed by CAE, to a larger extent at NFTI due to CAE’s 49% ownership. The last two are academies that are more flexible, offering an exclusive PPL as well. All schools, save Chimes, have some foreign component in them, and all are dominantly Diamond Aircraft (DA-40 and DA-42) operators, except Chimes which operates Cessna 172s and a Piper Seneca IV. GMR-APFT has diesel engine Diamond DA-40s, and IGRUA will soon be a full-fledged, first of its kind aviation university. NFTI is known for its IndiGo Cadet Pilot Program.
This week, we focus on GMR-APFT’s CFI, who retired from the Indian Air Force (IAF) as a Wing Commander. He served the Air Force for over 24 years.
Wing Commander (retd) Srikrishna’s father was at HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd) and used to bring home magazines like `Flight’ , and `Interavia’. As a kid he was fascinated by these glossy magazines and pictures of aircraft they contained. Reaching 10+2, he joined the Air Wing of NCC. During is stint at NCC, he was lucky to get about 40 launches in a glider and powered flying on Pushpak/Aeronca. After senior secondary schooling, he joined the NDA and followed the route into the Indian Air Force.
Srikrishna was a Qualified Flying Instructor while in the IAF and instructed on Kiran Jet trainers Mk I, Mk IA and Mk II. With more than 3900 instructional hours (6,000 total time) to his credit, Srikrishna is now the Chief Flying Instructor at GMR-APFT, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.
GMR-APFT commenced operations as recently as June 2013.
1. What, according to you, are the traits that must be exhibited by a flight instructor?
Additionally, a flying instructor needs to be mature and understanding. He must have a calm temperament and a lot of patience. His own flying skills must be of such high level that he can demonstrate manoeuvres to the required degree of accuracy.
2. Are there “natural", born instructors (those who have a natural flair for teaching), or is it something that can be picked up by anybody?
Srikrishna: In my opinion neither are there born instructors nor is it something that can be picked up by anybody. At best some pilots may have a flair for teaching and could become good instructors, if put through the paces of training as flight instructors. However, it is also true that good pilots may not necessarily mean they can become good instructors unless they have the requisite aptitude.
A flying instructor’s job can be taught. A natural flair would be of great help and make the task of teaching more likable and pleasant.
3. What is your take on General Aviation in India?
Srikrishna: Aviation Industry has been known to exhibit a cyclic behaviour. The demand rises, levels out and then falls only to rise again. In my opinion General Aviation in India is poised for a take off. Amongst the middle class in India, there is a fair amount of spare cash, and air travel, despite its higher cost as compared to countries in SE Asia is affordable and finds an increasing demand. Many Corporates are acquiring business travel aircraft. People are also interested in learning flying for pleasure. The outlook from now on is definitely bright.
4. Your opinion on fixed wing flying training in the country?
Srikrishna: Fixed wing training in India requires considerable overhaul. Many institutes undertaking training for CPL have only rudimentary infrastructure and marginal facilities.
5. If there is something you’d like to change in Indian aviation, what would it be?
Srikrishna: The training in India needs to be of world standards. DGCA must have more pilots in the Flying Training Directorate. In the Airworthiness Directorates there must be people who have actually worked on aircraft.
Note: All views of the CFI are personal, and do not necessarily reflect those of the flight school / institute / academy.
VT-EHA, the 1981 produced and only Cessna 172 at the school.
Yet another attempt is being made at restarting the operations at GFTS (Government Flying Training School –Jakkur – VOJK-, Bangalore). There have been positive changes: The vacant post of a Chief Flying Instructor (CFI) has been filled up, and an Assistant Flight Instructor (AFI) is employed by the school. GFTS also got a 1981-produced Cessna 172, and along with two mid 1980’s Cessna 152s, has a decent operational fleet size of 3 airplanes. Multi-engine airplanes are planned to be inducted into the fleet.
On the 7th of May, 2013, the flight school witnessed a low-key religious ceremony, marking the revival of flight operations at the field. The flight school has started offering “Joy Rides on Aeroplanes" for a nominal fee. This follows the “joy rides" offered to the public at Mysore, in the October of last year, during Mysore’s peak tourist season: Dusshera.
The school will also train students towards a PPL, and a CPL. The published rates for the Cessna 152 is INR 10,000/hr, and for the Cessna 172 is INR 11,500/hr. The rates are very steep, considering the age (1980s) and equipment (analog cockpit) on board the airplane. At a reputed private flying school, the rate for a new Cessna 172 with a Garmin G1000 glass cockpit is INR 12,500/hr: a lot more value for your money.
In the March of 2011, GFTS had advertised the re-opening of the flight school after 9 long years. That never happened. This time, the school seems to be a lot more serious, but only time will tell if the school really takes to the skies again, and goes beyond joy rides, in doing what it was established for: Flying Training.
And if it does, which is hoped, it will be after 11 long years. The official website may be visited by clicking HERE. The application form, published on 20th May 2013, may be viewed HERE. The school is looking for a Chief Ground Instructor.
Left to Right: VT-EHA (C172), VT-EIB & VT-EMY (C152)
A Flight Instructor entering the Piper Seneca IV, a twin engine.
I am at Chimes Aviation Academy, (Dhana, Madhya Pradesh; ICAO: VA1J) and the weather, skies, airplanes and people have made possible some very beautiful photographs. Here are a few shots, for your enjoyment!
Chimes Aviation Academy boasts off the largest G1000 equipped Cessna 172R fleet in the country (Fleet: 7 Cessna 172R + 1 Piper Seneca IV), as well as having the distinction of being the flight school where aerospace-major Honeywell sends its engineers for flying training, for a Private Pilot’s License.
The hangar, all lit!
A student taxiing into the apron just before sunset.
The Garmin GNS 530 on board the Piper Seneca IV
The two bird types that make the Academy fly.
A second to touchdown? Not really. She ballooned.
A Cessna 172 backtracking Runway 35.
Leaving terra firma…
A student cuts his engine after a solo.
A Cessna 172 longing for the skies.
Open fields, nice weather, and a nice airplane make a brilliant setting!