Tatas retain Capt R S Sandhu as Air India’s chief of operations

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NEW DELHI: The Tatas have retained Captain R S Sandhu as Air India’s chief of operations, making him among the few top management people from the Maharaja’s government-owned days to be utilised for the big transformation under the new owners.
Captain Sandhu, one of the senior most pilots who flies the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, had taken over as AI director operations in July 2020. He was reaching AI’s retirement age of 58 but the Tata Group airline had recently decided to utilise its pilots with a good safety record incrementally till the age of 65 as it prepares for a mega fleet expansion.
AI had recently decided to give selected pilots an extension for another five years. And since the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and several airline globally allow pilots to fly till they are 65, AI is also planning to do the same for pilots with an impeccable safety and disciplinary record.
Post Covid, American carriers are facing such a shortage of pilots that a group of Republicans in the US Congress last week proposed a legislation to raise the mandatory commercial pilot retirement age from 65 to 67. The Tata Group is expected to place a big order for its airlines. The Airbus A350 has been selected as the wide body option and a choice for single aisles is going to be made shortly.
“Considering future expansion plans for our fleet, it is imperative to meet our workforce requirement for pilots. DGCA allows pilots to fly till the age of 65 years, compared to Air India retirement age of 58 years. Allowing pilots to fly till the age of 65 is a practice followed by most airlines in the industry. To meet our requirement, it is proposed to retain our current trained pilots at Air India post retirement on a contractual basis for 5 years extendable to 65 years,” S D Tripathi, AI’s chief human resource officer (CHRO), had said in a July 29, 2022, “policy on post-retirement engagement (of) pilots.
AI has put in place a screening process to select pilots who would get an extension beyond 58. “A committee comprising of the functional representatives of HR, operations and flight safety will be constituted to examine the eligibility of pilots retiring in the next two years. The committee will be responsible for reviewing the past records of the pilots with respect to discipline, flight safety and vigilance. Post the review, the committee will recommend shortlisted names to the CHRO for issuing them post retirement contract,” the policy says.
“One year prior to pilots’ retirement, they will be issued a letter of intent for their post-retirement engagement. The contract would be issued for a period of five years extendable up to 65 years. Post-retirement contract will include a clause for annual review of the contract basis performance, conduct and flight safety record. On completion of five years of satisfactory service, a comprehensive examination of their performance will be considered for further extension till 65 years. This will be reviewed by the constituted committee,” Tripathi’s policy says.
Additionally, for airport entry passes (AEP) and company ID card purposes, the pilots’ application forms will reflect their date of retirement as and when they achieve the age of 65 years so that there can be timely AEP renewal/issuance at the time of post retirement engagement, it adds.



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