Aviation regulator DGCA has approved Air India's long-pending request to allow the same pilots to operate two types of Boeing wide-body aircraft, according to officials.
Initially, Air India can train a total of eight designated examiners for operating Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft. Four designated examiners will be trained for operating 777s and another four for flying 787s, a senior official at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said.
Cross-utilisation of existing pilots wherein they will be able to fly two different aircraft will be helpful for the carrier as it embarks on ambitious international expansion plans.
Generally, a designated examiner is an experienced pilot who has been authorised by the regulator to carry out various tests and checks as per civil aviation requirements. The examiner is an employee of the airline concerned.
Under the plan approved by the DGCA, each of the eight designated examiners should have 150 hours of flying with at least 10 landings in terms of operating Boeing 777 and 787 separately, the official said.
Air India's proposal was approved by the watchdog on March 3.
An Air India official said the airline has received the regulatory approval for Multi-Seat Flying (MSF), which broadly means that the same pilot can fly two types of aircraft and there will be a heavy training process.
The DGCA official said that cross utilisation of pilots is being followed by airlines in around 16 countries. Currently, there are around 700 wide-body pilots at Air India.
There was no immediate comment from Air India on queries regarding the DGCA approval.
Air India, which was acquired by Tata Group in January last year, has around 1,825 pilots and is also hiring more pilots as the airline expands its operations.
Last month, Air India placed orders for 470 aircraft with Airbus and Boeing, including 70 wide-body planes.