This bit of information might leave even seasoned fliers a little shaky. In North India, a no-frills airlines has resorted to pulling two medically unfit pilots into the cockpit, thanks to the dearth of pilots.
One of duo is an Indian commander in his forties. He lost his Airline Transport Pilot's License after failing an EEG test (needed to verify if a person is prone to epileptic fits). He then claimed Rs 50 lakh as insurance money for loss of his license and rejoined the airline with a fresh US license.
"They do not have an EEG for a pilot's medical test in the US. He also probably did not mention his medical condition in the test there. What is shocking is that the airline, despite knowing that the pilot was prone to epileptic attacks, took him back," an airline official on grounds of secrecy, informed.
"We will look into the matter. How can he fly in India if he failed medicals here?" promises director-general of civil aviation Kanu Gohain.
The other case involves a 60-plus US citizen. He has only one kidney; and a transplanted one at that, too. Though medical practitioners say he can be deemed fit to fly, he needs to go through more tests before flying.
According to aviation industry sources, the burgeoning demand for experienced pilots will only serve to make airlines more lenient in such cases.
"After the retirement age was increased from 60 to 65 in 2004, retirements froze for a while as 60-plus commanders continued to fly. But there will be a spate of retirements in 2009. It's also the time when the country will need every single experienced commander it has," Capt Yashraj Tongia of Yash Air, a flying school in Ujjain, says.
The pilot who rejoined the airline armed with an American license snatched at one simple rule: aspiring pilots did not have to undergo an EEG test for clearing the medicals in the US.
Airline industry insiders admit it is a thorough case of bending the rules with impunity. "DGCA had cancelled his license to fly because of his epileptic condition. But the airline recruited him again last month despite knowing his medical condition," an airline official rues.