Helicopter Pilots. Why doesn’t Maldives have any?
lately it’s been a common talked topic regarding the lack of helicopter pilots in the Maldives. The modern-day airline industry really started to take off in the Maldives through the late 1990s. With the rise in aviation throughout the years, it provided with a rise job opportunities for pilots as time went by. During these early years, the majority of these slots were filled almost entirely with expat pilot as the Maldives did not have many licensed local pilots however, throughout the years many started to get engaged in this field as it was a good career choice. Today majority of all airline pilots in the Maldives are locals. Today there are hundreds of local students studying globally in different countries acquiring their pilot license. Just prior to the COVID-19s impact on the airlines; the demand for pilots was very high and airlines were recruiting many. With all of these we are still yet to see helicopter pilots in the Maldives, why is that?
The answer is simple. Maldives does not have any career opportunities for helicopter pilots. The next question is; how can we create helicopter pilots? There’s a very little chance any individual may pursue helicopter training on their own as the costs are expensive and there are no job opportunities in our country. It would be a difficult task for a new pilot to get jobs in foreign countries for both airplane and helicopter pilots as many countries primarily hire local pilots only as less experienced new pilots and prefer experienced pilots if they were to hire expats.
Looking back again to the early years; the very first airplane pilots in the Maldives were trained under funding through NSS as there were no individuals self-funding themselves. This is one way to create helicopter pilots. With joint effort between the Indian Navy and MNDF, they have been operating helicopters for a long time. MNDF can start by funding locals to train as pilots and provide them with job opportunities within the MNDF. However as the helicopters are operated as foreign registered helicopters and since it belongs to a foreign navy, there may complications in allowing a local to operate the helicopter.
The only other way we can see helicopter pilots is through the private sector. There already is a private company working to establish helicopter operations in the Maldives. They were last working towards gaining an Air Operator Certificate prior to the impact of COVID-19. In the future, if this airline grows it’ll open up a market for helicopter pilots and this would result in individuals studying themselves for helicopter license as from then on there would be career opportunities for helicopter pilots.
This is the simple reason for the lack of helicopter pilots in the Maldives. Airplane pilots went so far beyond today the operations in all airlines are lead by locals. The majority of all leading management posts are held by locals, there are many flight instructors and examiners. There is no doubt that Maldivian helicopter pilots too would go so far themselves. It takes years of training and experience to get to such levels, so it may take some time before we see senior helicopter pilots but within the time there’ll be many.