Russia Considers Law to Allow Hiring of Foreign Pilots
The Russian parliament was presented with legislation last week to allow Russian airlines to begin hiring foreign pilots to meet an expected shortfall in experienced crews. Currently only Russian citizens may fly Russian airliners. The move comes just a month after the crash of a Boeing 737 at Kazan Airport, 450 miles southeast of Moscow, in which it appears the pilots lost control of the aircraft, killing all 50 people on board. Shortcomings in crew qualifications have already been cited as possible factors in that accident. Since 2008, 340 people have died in commercial aircraft accidents in Russia. With air travel rising by 12 to 15 percent annually, an article published last week in Russia Beyond the Headlines said the most recent figures (covering 1995-2007) show Russian flight schools produced between 150 and 200 pilots per year, which is barely one-tenth of the 1,500 pilots needed by the country’s air transport industry each year. The shortfall in captains is said to be even more severe. Flag carrier Aeroflot supports the move to hire foreign pilots because many of the first officers currently flying at the airline do not possess the necessary experience to upgrade to the left seat. Another Russian carrier, UTair, has said it believes in hiring people based upon their qualifications and experience rather than on their citizenship.