The first half of the 1990s was an interesting time for the Indian aviation industry. The declaration of 'Open Sky Policy' in 1991 and the modifications made in the Air Corporations Act in 1994 had unlocked the sector for private players, instigating a cutthroat competition in the market. Down south, Late Dr. K. C. G. Verghese, a visionary who built the entire edifice of the Hindustan Group of Institutions, was keen on these developments in the aviation sector.
With a fleet of just one Boeing 737-200 aircraft, he started an 'Air Taxi Operator' with service between cities like Chennai, Cochin, Mumbai and so on.
Being one of the youngest flying institutions in the country, OFAA gives the student pilot undivided and individual attention through highly experienced quality Flight Instructors.
Unfortunately, his air taxi service did not get a perfect takeoff. However, with an aim to overcome the shortage of personnel and human resources in the Aviation Industry, in 1994, he managed to open Orient Flights Aviation Academy (OFAA) in Pondicherry, which was subsequently shifted to Mysore, Karnataka. Now, administrated by his son, Dr. Anand Jacob Verghese, another flying enthusiast and the Chairman and Managing Director of Orient Flights Aviation Academy, the institute produces professional pilots who easily fit into the right seat of any airlines, with minimal transitional training.
Talking about the establishment of OFAA, Dr. Anand Verghese says, "While operating our private airline, we realized that there was a severe dearth of pilots in India and we had to hire expats for the job, which was causing us a major loss of foreign exchange. Now, the flying school plays a major role in shaping up the career of the pilots and others." Today, OFAA has a legacy of over 24 years and 35,000 flying hours with more than 300 pilots trained under highly qualified Flying Instructors.
Flying in a Favorable Weather
Hardly three hours road travel from Bangalore, OFAA is located in one of South India's most famous tourist destinations, Mysore in Karnataka. With its glittering royal heritage and magnificent monuments and buildings, Mysore not only holds the reputation for being the cleanest city in the country, but also acquits a pleasant climate throughout the year favorable for flying. The airfield in Mysore is fully functional with a dedicated control tower manned by Airport Authority of India, along with the requirements for civil flight operations. Dr. Anand Verghese claims, "Since the civil flights do not operate in Mysore airfield, the aerodrome, airspace, and facilities are available to our student pilots exclusively."
At present, OFAA uses five of the Cessna 172 Skyhawk and two of the Cessna 152 aircraft available Mysore to train students who want to acquire a Private Pilot License (PPL), a 6-month course that needs to clock at least 50 hours of flying. For to those want to take Commercial Pilot License (CPL), a two-year programme requiring a minimum of 200 hours of flying, the institute uses Piper Seneca, Mark III aircraft. "It is the policy of OFAA to strive to provide most modern aircraft for safe and efficient training to students," pinpoints Dr. Anand Verghese. In addition to PPL and CPL, OFAA also offers a large array of aviation programmes, including Pilot Orientation Program (3 months), Student Pilot License (7 weeks), Assistant Flight Instructor Rating, Flight Instructor Rating, Instrument Rating, Foreign License Conversion and Recency Flying, along with IATA Certified Programmes like Cabin Crew Training, Ground Staff Training and Air Ticketing.
"The training imparted to the trainees and the standards maintained at the academy strictly adhered to the norms prescribed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Government of India. Here, the trainees undergo rigorous training on how to fly different types of aircraft under hostile weather conditions, navigation, day and night landing and so on," shares Dr. Anand Verghese. Being one of the youngest flying institutions in the country, OFAA gives the student pilot undivided and individual attention through highly experienced quality Flight Instructors. Indeed, at OFAA, student pilots would be able to complete his or her mandatory flying hours at a record pace.
Offering more than a License to Fly
Since the aviation industry is propelling towards a major growth, generating approximately 2000 jobs for Pilots alone every year, the demand for Pilots, Cabin Crew and Ground staff in the industry are greater than ever before. Dr. Anand Verghese opines, "We expect more than 500 new aircraft to be added by various airline operators in the next few years. The regional connectivity plan will surely generate more employment opportunities." While, the DGCA specifies a ground-training syllabus of 350 hours for a CPL student, OFAA has formulated a syllabus of over 600 hours, to equip every CPL holder to be successful at the time of airline interviews. OFAA Ground Training includes the syllabus for Air Navigation, Technical (General and Specific) and RTR (Radio Telephony Restricted), an examination conducted by the Ministry of Communication, Govt. of India.
"Our Assistant Flight Instructors and Ground Instructors provide individual attention to each student and prepare them for various skill tests in the Air and examinations conducted by DGCA. The students are also exposed to Computer Based Training (CBT) programmes and online testing methodologies," explains Dr. Anand Verghese. The quality training provided by the faculty members of OFAA has helped its student to be successfully inducted into various airlines in India and around the world. Now, with strong Alumni Network that is spread across many countries, including Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Singapore and many more, OFAA is looking forward to adding many more advanced facilities to meet the highest standards. We recently started Orient Flights Civil Aviation Academy to train cabin crew and ground staff with state-of-the-art facilities and practical training based on the IATA curriculum. In the near future, we will be expanding our academies to other states as well," concludes, Dr. Anand Verghese.