LOCAL pilots have been counselled to accumulate more flying hour by agreeing to work for lower pay to boost their chances of getting permanent employment in the future.
Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) Director General, Mr Fadhili Manongi, said in Dar es Salaam that many pilots in the country do not have the needed flying hours to secure job in the aviation industry.
Mr Manongi was talking to editors from various media houses where he also clarified on issues raised by Tanzania Pilots Association, who had complained about several matters including TCAA officials hindering efforts by nationals getting employment.
He said that TCAA has nothing to do with job prospects of qualified pilots as their duty is to issue and validate and convert licences of pilots wanting to work in the country.
"Our mandate does to stretch further to ensure that pilots get employed, that is the prerogative of air operators. We also do not issue work permits to foreigners to work in the country, so we are not liable to be blamed," he asserted.
He, however, concurred that there are more foreigners working as pilots in the country than locals and thus counselled locals to seek more hours by offering their services for even free and agree to be paid allowances.
He also noted that there is currently a shortage of qualified pilots to fly commercial planes in the world, thus the problem is not only in Tanzania.
"The main problem is that many pilots do not have enough flying hours and of course, there is also a lack of discipline because pilots are placed under a stern control regime and the aviation industry is very small so employers easily get information of certain pilots' behaviours," he said.
Adding to that point, TCAA Acting Director for Safety Regulations, Mr Julius Kamhabwa, said that it is very expensive to train pilots thus thwarting their employment is unthinkable.
He noted that it costs up to 70,000 US dollars to train a single pilot and many people cannot afford that which explains the shortage.
Mr Manongi called on the association to assist the authority by providing proof that the latter's officials connive with employers to deny locals employment.
On the health of pilots, Mr Manongi said that the issue has been blown out of proportions, adding that there have only been three incidents where pilots fell ill during flight, two which occurred in 2009 and one in 2013.
"In the 2009 incidents, the pilots have since been barred from flying commercial planes and the 2013 incident the pilot was suffering from malaria and went to hospital after landing the plane," he said.
He observed that pilots and cabin crews are subjected to medical examinations, whereas a pilot who is less than 40 years of age has to be examined once every year and those older than 40 are checked twice a year.
Addressing other issues raised by the association, he said that it is not true that standards require a nine-seater plane to be flown by two pilots.
He said that there are International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards that stipulate such a requirement and that it is not even among recommended practices.