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Help Wanted: Foreign Pilots

Indonesian Government Grants Permission for Foreign Pilots to Work with National Air Carriers.

(8/26/2007) In a step to alleviate the shortage of qualified pilots, Indonesia's Department of Civil Aviation is granting foreign pilots the opportunity to work for Indonesian airlines.

Speaking to the Indonesian language Bisnis Indonesia, the Director General of Air Communications, Budhi M. Suyitno said that priority (in the granting of work permits) would be given to foreign pilots flying wide-bodied aircraft on international routes. Speaking at an aviation seminar in Jakarta, Suyitno said "scheduled airlines and charter operators can now hire foreign pilots because many Indonesian pilots have chosen to work overseas."

Suyitno explained that the granting of permission to employ foreign pilots has already been coordinated with the Department of Manpower and the Indonesian aviation community. The step allowing foreign pilots to work in Indonesia is in response to an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) finding that Indonesia needed to expand its pool of qualified pilots.

Suyitno was quick to point out that the current shortage of qualified pilots was not unique to Indonesia and, in fact, reflected a world-wide situation as evidenced by the recent cancellation of flights by Northwest Airlines in the U.S.A.due to an insufficient pool of pilots.

The Secretary-General of the Indonesian National Air Carriers Association (INACCA), Tengku Burhanuddin, cautioned that the new policy allowing the employment of foreign pilots must be closely monitored to avoid backlash resulting from the large disparities in the salaries paid to local and foreign pilots. At the same time, Burhanuddin understands the compelling reasons for the new policy and the need for an interim supply of foreign pilots while domestic flight academies train highly qualified Indonesian cockpit crews.

Data for the Curug Flight School in West Java indicate that requests for new pilots over the past year total 535, while only 45 new pilots were graduated in the same period. To help fill this gap Garuda Indonesia is in discussions with foreign flight academies to establish a flight training center in Indonesia.