IGRUA: Staying at the top in flying training

Show: India Aviation 2014 - Day 3 By Vasuki Prasad

Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi (IGRUA), the government supported flight school based at Fursatganj, Uttar Pradesh, at Rae Bareilly, is only getting better with time. With a stall at India Aviation 2014 at Hyderabad, the Diretor of the flight school, Air Marshal (Retd) V.K. Verma, is all upbeat about the school and the transformation it is undergoing.

In September 2013, the Lok Sabha passed the bill for the setup of a National Aviation University (NAU) in the name of Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University at IGRUA. The National Aviation University aims to facilitate and promote aviation studies, teaching, training and research with focus on emerging areas of studies such as aviation maintenance, management, aviation regulation and policy, aviation history, aviation science and engineering, aviation law, aviation safety and security, aviation medicine, search and rescue, transportation of dangerous goods, environmental studies and other related fields, and also to achieve excellence in these and connected fields in emerging areas and such areas as deemed necessary. The University will also be a knowledge partner to safety and security regulators by providing required academic inputs to help them execute their enforcement responsibility better.

The University will be built up in steps, starting 2015. The flight school, which boats of India’s largest training fleet at 24 aircraft, comprising 13 Diamond DA40s, five Tridad TB20s, four Zlins, all single engine airplanes, and 2 Diamond DA42s, will grow its fleet by 12 aircraft this year, with 10 diesel engine DA40s and 2 helicopters.

Diesel engine airplanes run off Aircraft Turbine Fuel, which is easily available in India and costs 80 per litre. The petrol engines run off AVGAS, which is always faced with availability issues, and costs 200 per litre. Eventually, the entire fleet will be replaced by diesel engine airplanes.

In addition, the school is the only one in India to have a very strict flight data monitoring practice, after the fatal crash involving one of its airplanes in December 2013. Flight data records of previous flights revealed other students indulging in “adventurous”, and “indiscipline” flying, and have been suspended for a period of one year.

Such rates of indiscipline are very low, considering the school takes in 100 students per year. According to the director, Air Marshal (Retd) “Charly” Verma, “the strict system of filtering students ensure only the best get in, and those who don’t get in to IGRUA land up at other schools”.

The school, which is managed by the world leader in flight training solutions, CAE, conducts the CASS entrance test: CAE Air Crew Selection System. The significant independence of IGRUA, and the support from the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), ensures that IGRUA has the best facilities for flying training, including a fully sufficient airfield.

Discipline set by IGRUA is enforced by the staff, including ground and flight instructors, most of whom had served the Indian Air Force.

The school, at no additional cost to the students, offers MCC (multi crew coordination) and CRM (crew resource management) classes, conducted by retired Air India pilots. This is imparted on one of IGRUA’s flight simulators. The institute has five flight simulators at its disposal.

A 1.5 year CPL course costs the student 33.4 lakh, which is a steal considering the facilities and quality of instructors.

And how is IGRUA able to stay at the top and still offer low training fees? “Training is subsidised by the Indian Government”, says the Director.