Short of Pilots, Government Turns To Civil Servants to Fill Gap

Captain Sudiro Usodho conducts a class for students pilots at the Deraya Flight School in Jakarta last week. (Reuters Photo)

Captain Sudiro Usodho conducts a class for students pilots at the Deraya Flight School in Jakarta last week. (Reuters Photo)

The Transportation Ministry is looking within its own ranks to source talent to overcome the shortage of pilots in the country’s fast-expanding aviation industry.

The effort to test whether the nation’s civil servants would be put to better use at 30,000 feet comes as the government grapples with the twin problems of a glut of bureaucrats — about 4.6 million — and an acute shortage of pilots and pilot instructors.

A large banner  reading, “The Transportation Ministry offers civil servants in the ministry opportunities to be trained as pilots,” is on display in front of the ministry’s human resources department in Gambir, Central Jakarta.

Bambang S. Ervan, a spokesman for the ministry, confirmed the message was correct, saying that it was the first time the idea had been tried.

“[Those who enlist] will be trained at one of our flying schools and, on completion, will obtain the most basic pilot license,” Bambang said.

To obtain an entry-level license, called a private pilot license, trainees must complete 60 flying hours and more than 300 ground-training hours. After graduation, they can fly non-commercial aircraft.

The ministry has two flying schools, one in Curug, Banten, and a second in Banyuwangi, East Java, producing 150 pilot graduates a year between them, Bambang said.

The ministry’s program is scheduled to operate within 18 months.

Bambang said the program was made to fill the gap in Indonesia’s airline industry, which includes 16 scheduled commercial airline operators.

“The aim is to train flight instructors rather than to produce commercial pilots,” Bambang said.

The Transportation Ministry launched the program because it is not allowed to recruit more civil servants under the ongoing recruitment moratorium that has been imposed across most national government agencies as a cost-saving measure.

“There are not enough flight instructors in our schools right now, and we cannot recruit any more people. So the viable option is to train our staff,” Bambang said.

“It is possible for the graduates to become commercial pilots depending on their aptitude and the requirements from the respective airlines. But their first duty is to be instructors,” Bambang said.

Aviation analyst Dudi Sudibyo said the government’s program was commendable.

“Anyone can be a pilot, even civil servants, because it depends on whether they can pass all the related aptitude tests,” he added. “I think it is quite innovative for the government to take this approach in addressing [the issue of pilot shortages],” Dudi said.

The rapid expansion of Indonesia’s aviation sector has led to the pilot shortage. According to Dudi, Indonesia needs to produce at least 400 new pilots every year.

Bambang said the recruitment be strictly supervised. “Of course we will not recruit any random person. They will undergo the same rigorous training and procedures as any other pilot trainees,” he said.

Indonesia’s civil service is rife with ill-discipline, including reports of bureaucrats clocking off during working hours and failing drug tests. The country’s aviation industry, meanwhile, faces longstanding  security concerns.

The crash of a Lion Air plane into the sea off Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport  last month  damaged already-weak public confidence in the sector. Investigations into the cause of the crash are ongoing.

Bambang said security was the Transportation Ministry’s chief concern. “With or without this program, security is our number one priority,” he  said.

Dudi said a similar approach was taken by professional pilots. “Every pilot wants to perform their job safely. Security is their first, second and third priority,” he said.

But he added that Indonesia’s flying schools lag behind their regional counterparts in regard to facilities and the quality of the curriculum.

“For example, our schools still use planes with an analog controller, while most of the cockpits in commercial planes are now digital,” he said.

“It means that a graduate from an Indonesian school will need further training to fly a commercial plane.”

National airline Garuda Indonesia is among those carriers seeking to stave off staffing shortages.

“Garuda Indonesia had recruited 10 flight instructors to expedite our training program and as an anticipation of delays in our training timetable due to the lack of instructors,” the airline said in its annual report.

Garuda employs 842 pilots and copilots as of 2012, and has a further 239 candidates in its training program.

The archipelago’s 16 scheduled airline operators employ around 8,000 pilots and copilots, while approximately 600 foreign pilots have been drafted in, according to data from the Transportation Ministry.

Efforts by airlines to recruit foreign pilots have been hampered by objections among local pilots to differences in pay.

  • blightyboy

    Personally I envisage a lot of Indonesian aircraft smacking into mountains and plunging into the sea in the future. I do-not fly using any Indonesian airlines and will not while the industry lacks control and is as corrupt and incompetent as any other of this countries institutions.

    • Wonderer

      You don’t use indonesian airlines…? Charter? Car? Ferry?

      • blightyboy

        No!

        • DrDez

          me either

          • Wonderer

            I gather you also do not use Ojek …So you walk, swim and fly everywhere via Singapore??? Come on, it’s part of the adventure!

          • MadWorld

            From now on compulsory item to take on board.
            S.A.S survival handbook.
            A rubber inflatable dinghy.
            A compass.
            A parachute to bail out, if possible.
            Triple your life insurance.
            Welcome to discovery flight to Bali.

          • DrDez

            I walk a lot actually, most days 2 to 5km with my dogs, I also use my bike in Bali from time to time. I also like to use the bus and occasionally the train
            But as for taking an ojek, no thanks, and Indo airlines, not in this life thank you. I have no wish to hasten what will be soon enough
            Anon … Hope you are well old chap, I was only thinking of you last night when I watched Basil Rathbone

  • DrDez

    1 year ago

    1. We dont want foreign pilots they take our jobs, steal our women and get better T&C
    2. We have too many officials, 80% of regional budgets go on salaries and perks, leaving not much for parties or even public services like roads or schools – moratorium on hiring, borrow money from ADB to fund govt services (hidden state debt)
    10 months ago
    We will sack all foreign pilots and establish a training school
    Still recruiting govt officials, still borrowing, 100 pilots to be available by year end.
    Last month
    We are building a school and it will be online in 2015
    Still recruiting officials, no pilots yet
    Today
    We have not got enough pilots and yes!! we are still recruiting for govt officials :)
    and no trained pilots ….
    You just cannot make this up

    Did you know the govt set aside $20 million for the training school. I wonder where it is

    • Wonderer

      Let me add: what you did would have been JG’s job! And now it is their’s to find the answer to your last question…

    • MadWorld

      Welcome to Indonesia. And 60% of its surface is sea water, better buy a seaplane? Pretending to fly, but actually cruising in a seaplane.

  • nugnut

    After 60 hours flight training ( as student pilot with an instructor in the right hand seat).

    If they pass their flight navigation test they are still only endorsed to fly the model of aircraft in which they trained.

    Any other type will require they pas an endorsement check and flight test.

    Then they must complete 300 hours before they are eligible to apply for a commercial pilots licence.

    My question is Who will be expected to pick up the costs for the required time they need to gain a commercial endorsement for every different type of multi engine commercial jet

    aircraft.

    I bet this will open a door to massive graft where those who can buy the endorsements for the aircraft they want to fly.
    Its time to walk away from any chance to fly with Indonesian airlaines

  • TalkingEid

    I’m waiting for the day I have to pay ‘cigarette money’ to the pilot. Recruiting from the Indonesian Civil Service? What could possibly go wrong………….

  • 22roles

    Potential pilots coming from MAS in which the company is badly damaged financially might be a good idea. SQ is also laying off pilots in big numbers.

    • Valkyrie1604

      Hahaha!

    • DoobeBro

      Good quality Sing pilots (all Europeans by the look) – lets hope Garuda snap them up – for once I agree 22

      Great deal for the 76 (from 2400) to be laid off though :) Paid up until end of contract plus S$24000 bonus …. So for a man with 18 months to go he gets $$204,000 to walk …. nice work if you can lose it

  • mauriceg

    Well, I hope that they don’t regard the ability to quote by heart from the Qu’ran, preferably in Arabic as a primary requirement for entry into flight school.
    If most Indonesians are untrustworthy as sane, safe, knowledgeable, courteous road users, god help the inclinations of instructors, which will be bad enough, and who will pass on their dangerous, uncaring attitudes to the many responsibilities and ‘right stuff’ that denote a real pilot, to a generation of uneducated and likely uneducatable zombies.

    Or, maybe there is a plan, albeit expensive, to send their civil service delegations to classes at Hogwarts.
    You might also bet these pilots will be taking their own parachutes, and bailing out before ‘hard landings’.

    Sounds like a good time to start flying with non-Indonesian airlines.

  • Highlander

    agree with Nutmeg – time to review the travel plans around Indonesia –

    They are too mean to recruit and employ properly trained foreign pilots – Gee,s what a thought to be piloted by an Civil Servant .

  • Ax

    There is a serious interest of aviation in this country yet no infrastructure to spark the imaginations of the young minds to become pilots.

    If Indonesia wants to keep a steady flow of graduating pilots or FI’s, this is what the country needs: small airports with “Discovery flights” without the hassle and Indonesian bullshit beaureaucracy. Just sign up, contact details and boom you’re off for an hour to fly a couple of patterns around. From these, the young will be inspired and hopefully even become pilots and FI’s.

    Instead of JUST looking for pilots to fill in the shortages, why not make it worthwhile and create some REAL substance to it, pilots who HAVE dreamt of flying since they were small, pilots who are extremely passionate about flying and aviation.

    After all security is the top priority, but how can we engrain the concept of security into minds already molded.

    If security is top priority, then we MUST engrain it into the minds of the young, from the very first step of signing up for the “Discovery flight” to the first step into an aircraft.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dewi.thompson.9 Dewi Thompson

      “There is a serious interest of aviation in this country yet no
      infrastructure to spark the imaginations of the young minds to become
      pilots.”

      It would seem, that as most Indonesians move up the ladder their tendencies do lean towards wanting “Money for Nothing and Chicks for Free”.

  • MadWorld

    Ladies & gentlemen, this is your captain speaking.
    My name : Abu Bakar James Bond Bazir, graduated 60 hours ago.
    I welcome you on board of flight 101 to Bali, If GOD is Willing.
    Please do read the provided lecture, ” I should not be alive “for your entertainment only. Please do not hesitate if necessary to ask for Valium 10mgr or Temesta Expidet,2,5mgr ,those are of course optional.
    Just enjoy your flight.

  • Roland

    Why is Indonesia’s civic aviation not recruiting from former air force pilots if they already refuse to have foreigners as pilots (eh 22, no chance for those Malaysians here).

    This is a common career path for air force pilots after their army period.

    Well, at least for Lions Air they can keep those prayer sheets in the front pocket (I really like that one – it’s a very unique Indonesian feature).

    • Wong Edan

      Because the training is shocking and they have to buy promotions. The tiny air force is only a vanity outfit anyway…

      • Valkyrie1604

        Totally agree with you WE. The number of Air Force pilots in relation to the size of this country is ridiculous. Then, they don’t have the planes do they?

        • MadWorld

          yes they have cute toy planes

        • MadWorld

          yes they have cute toy planes

        • MadWorld

          yes they have cute toy planes

        • MadWorld

          yes they have cute toy planes

        • MadWorld

          yes they have cute toy planes

        • MadWorld

          yes they have cute toy planes

        • MadWorld

          yes they have cute toy planes

        • MadWorld

          yes they have cute toy planes

        • MadWorld

          yes they have cute toy planes

          • http://www.facebook.com/dewi.thompson.9 Dewi Thompson

            Madworld, they log their hours in their official logbook any way they can.

        • MadWorld

          yes they have cute toy planes

        • MadWorld

          yes they have cute toy planes

        • MadWorld

          yes they have cute toy planes

      • Roland

        Wong Edan – quite valid points you’ve got there. Sadly though …

        But they are good in beating up reporters covering crashes I remember.

  • Joe90

    and……why were there 4.6 million civil servants in the first place.?????

    • Valkyrie1604

      Joe, multiply that with the “fees” paid. WOW!!!

  • DrDez

    No, I just have an elephantine memory for detail Val … I suspect you already know it :)
    It was only reported a few weeks ago that the ‘Training School’ was up and running. Then in the small print it pointed to the fact they did not have any computers, training equipment or indeed any form of aircraft or simulator …. ‘Ready’ Indo style I guess they meant … Oh and the first students would be ready in 2015.. :) You really cannot make this up
    Nug is correct – I worry we will see a spike in crashes in the coming years as prophet is put before all else

    Wonderer … To be fair to Indonesian journalists they are treading a very fine line between getting bought off or getting killed

    • Pakle

      this is the ‘soft opening’ of the training school, it seems. No planes, no students, and a big budget to fritter away on parties, comparative studies, and silly press releases.

      • DrDez

        correct Pakie – thats exactly as I see it

      • DrDez

        correct Pakie – thats exactly as I see it

      • DrDez

        correct Pakie – thats exactly as I see it

      • DrDez

        correct Pakie – thats exactly as I see it

      • DrDez

        correct Pakie – thats exactly as I see it