Asia's biggest budget carrier AirAsia launched its debut flight in India on June 12, 2014. Manjunath Kiran / AFP
Asia's biggest budget carrier AirAsia launched its debut flight in India on June 12, 2014. Manjunath Kiran / AFP

Eyes on the skies in India as aviation industry soars

Enforcement of safety standards in India’s aviation industry is not keeping pace with the rapid growth of the sector, experts warn.

A number of pilots in India have been securing licences after barely flying because of fudged documents, while the regulator is ill-equipped to monitor safety of aircraft and personnel as airlines continue to expand and more carriers take to the skies in the country.

With the International Civil Aviation Organization expected to conduct an audit towards the end of this year, aviation safety in India is coming into sharp focus.

“In my nearly 30 years of experience in aviation in India, I always found a great emphasis on very high safety standards in the initial years,” says Satish Modh, who was in aviation for most of his career before becoming the director of the Vivekanand Education Society Institute of Management Studies and Research in Mumbai.

“But as the aviation sector expanded greatly, the system was not geared enough to handle such high growth. Nearly the same number of people were dealing with a three to fourfold increase in the number of aircraft and licensed personnel. Even if the measures were stringent there was the possibility of making mistakes and ignoring some incidents due to shortage of flight inspectors.”

There has been a surge in the growth of India’s aviation sector over the past decade, particularly with the rise of low-cost carriers. Last year, a new full-service airline, Vistara, a joint venture between Singapore Airlines and Tata Group, took to the skies. The previous year, the budget airline AirAsia India launched in the market.

“With the growth in aviation sector there was huge demand for pilots by private airlines,” says Mr Modh. “There was a rush to obtain pilot licences and aspirants went all over the globe including some dubious flight schools in India, US, Europe and south Asia. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) conducted raids on many flight schools and cancelled their flight training licences,” he explains.

“The problem arose because of fudging of the record books which were filled manually. Certainly after the new incidents of fudging brought to light, there is a need for recertification of flying clubs and pilot training schools.”

Anupam Verma, 25, told Bloomberg News recently that he was given a certificate showing he had flown an airplane for 360 hours by a flying school in Indore after spending just over half-an-hour in the air in the co-pilot’s seat. In India, 200 hours of flying are required to obtain a pilot’s licence.

“What if I was flying and had an emergency?” he said. “I wouldn’t even know how or where to land.”

For its part, the DGCA has indicated that it plans to conduct a review of all flying schools in India that would require their recertification.

Airlines in India are struggling with profitability amid price wars and high operating costs, including taxes. Indian airlines’ losses are expected to total US$1 billion this year, according to the International Air Transport Association. It expects India to become the world’s third largest aviation market by 2029.

“We do believe that there needs to be a focus on strengthening the resources and expertise within the DGCA to ensure that Indian aviation is able to grow safely,” says Binit Somaia, the director for South Asia at Capa Centre for Aviation. “With traffic having the potential to triple over the next decade this will place a significant additional burden on the regulator for which it needs to be equipped and prepared.”

Capa’s figures show that India’s domestic airline passenger numbers have reached about 60 million passengers a year.

“In the 50 years from 1953 to 2003, the largest number of annual passengers that India’s domestic market added in a five-year period was 3.6 million,” according to a report by Capa. “However, 2004 marked a turning point in Indian aviation as liberalisation of the market and the entry of low-cost airlines resulted in unprecedented expansion. In the five years to 2008 annual traffic had tripled, surging by an incremental 29.1 million, eight times greater than in any equivalent period before.”

Despite concerns over the implementation of safety standards, the rate of fatalities in the aviation sector has actually decreased substantially over the past decade compared to previous decades between the 1940s to the 1990s in India.

India’s last major accident was the crash of an Air India Express flight from Dubai to Mangalore, which overshot the runway in Mangalore, killing 158 people in 2010.

“The concern is that there is a lack of commitment to safety with an approach that involves reacting to threats in order to scrape through and meet minimum requirements rather than pro-actively seeking to achieve a best practice safety culture which requires leadership, talent, investment and execution,” according to Capa.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in January last year downgraded India in its international aviation safety assessment to category two, meaning that it did not meet international standards in its oversight of safety. This downgrade prevented Indian airlines from launching new services to the US. India managed to regain its category one status in April after improving its safety oversight processes over the course of more than a year.

The FAA had flagged issues including "India's flight safety inspectors, flying schools, certification process of airlines and maintenance, repair and overhaul inspection procedures", the director general of civil aviation, M Sathiyavathy, told the Indian business newspaper Mint two weeks ago.

“We have also started recertifying airlines and have completed six airlines,” Ms Sathiyavathy said. “We will complete recertifying all airlines by March based on new procedures.”

Safety issues are only set to become more pressing.

The Asia-Pacific region is at the forefront of an "unprecedented" demand for pilots and technicians, according to Boeing. As commercial airlines globally take delivery of tens of thousands of planes over the next two decades, it forecasts that the industry will require more than 1 million new aviation personnel, made up of 558,000 commercial airline pilots and 609,000 maintenance technicians. Boeing estimates that 40 per cent of this demand for pilots will be in the Asia-Pacific region, with a predicted 226,000 new pilots required over the next 20 years.

“Safety needs continuous monitoring and compliance of standards,” says Mr Modh. “The government has to crack down on fake flying schools with a heavy hand to restore faith in the system.”

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Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000


Display: Main – 6.7" FHD Dynamic Amoled 2X, 2640 x 1080, 22:9, 425ppi, HDR10+, up to 120Hz; cover – 1.9" Super Amoled, 512 x 260, 302ppi

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, 4nm, octa-core; Adreno 730 GPU

Memory: 8GB

Capacity: 128/256/512GB

Platform: Android 12, One UI 4.1.1

Main camera: Dual 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 12MP wide (f/1.8), OIS, portrait, super slo-mo, hyperlapse

Video: 4K@30/60fps, full-HD@30/60fps, HD@30fps; slo-mo@240/960fps; HDR10+

Front camera: 10MP (f/2.4)

Battery: 3700mAh, 25W fast charging, 15W wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, 'all-day' life

Connectivity: 5G; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC (Samsung Pay)


Cards: Nano-SIM + eSIM; no microSD slot

Colours: Bora purple, graphite, pink gold, blue; Bespoke Edition in select countries

In the box: Flip 4, USB-C-to-USB-C cable

Price: Dh3,799 / Dh3,999 / Dh4,449


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

The Roundup : No Way Out

Director: Lee Sang-yong
Stars: Don Lee, Lee Jun-hyuk, Munetaka Aoki
Rating: 3/5

Roger Federer's record at Wimbledon

Roger Federer's record at Wimbledon

1999 - 1st round

2000 - 1st round

2001 - Quarter-finalist

2002 - 1st round

2003 - Winner

2004 - Winner

2005 - Winner

2006 - Winner

2007 - Winner

2008 - Finalist

2009 - Winner

2010 - Quarter-finalist

2011 - Quarter-finalist

2012 - Winner

2013 - 2nd round

2014 - Finalist

2015 - Finalist

2016 - Semi-finalist


Man Utd 2 Pogba 27', Martial 49'

Everton 1 Sigurdsson 77'

Mia Man’s tips for fermentation

- Start with a simple recipe such as yogurt or sauerkraut

- Keep your hands and kitchen tools clean. Sanitize knives, cutting boards, tongs and storage jars with boiling water before you start.

- Mold is bad: the colour pink is a sign of mold. If yogurt turns pink as it ferments, you need to discard it and start again. For kraut, if you remove the top leaves and see any sign of mold, you should discard the batch.

- Always use clean, closed, airtight lids and containers such as mason jars when fermenting yogurt and kraut. Keep the lid closed to prevent insects and contaminants from getting in.



Sunday, January 20
3pm: Jordan v Vietnam at Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai
6pm: Thailand v China at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain
9pm: Iran v Oman at Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Monday, January 21
3pm: Japan v Saudi Arabia at Sharjah Stadium
6pm: Australia v Uzbekistan at Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain
9pm: UAE v Kyrgyzstan at Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Tuesday, January 22
5pm: South Korea v Bahrain at Rashid Stadium, Dubai
8pm: Qatar v Iraq at Al Nahyan Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Explainer: Tanween Design Programme

Non-profit arts studio Tashkeel launched this annual initiative with the intention of supporting budding designers in the UAE. This year, three talents were chosen from hundreds of applicants to be a part of the sixth creative development programme. These are architect Abdulla Al Mulla, interior designer Lana El Samman and graphic designer Yara Habib.

The trio have been guided by experts from the industry over the course of nine months, as they developed their own products that merge their unique styles with traditional elements of Emirati design. This includes laboratory sessions, experimental and collaborative practice, investigation of new business models and evaluation.

It is led by British contemporary design project specialist Helen Voce and mentor Kevin Badni, and offers participants access to experts from across the world, including the likes of UK designer Gareth Neal and multidisciplinary designer and entrepreneur, Sheikh Salem Al Qassimi.

The final pieces are being revealed in a worldwide limited-edition release on the first day of Downtown Designs at Dubai Design Week 2019. Tashkeel will be at stand E31 at the exhibition.

Lisa Ball-Lechgar, deputy director of Tashkeel, said: “The diversity and calibre of the applicants this year … is reflective of the dynamic change that the UAE art and design industry is witnessing, with young creators resolute in making their bold design ideas a reality.”

Company Profile

Company name: Yeepeey

Started: Soft launch in November, 2020

Founders: Sagar Chandiramani, Jatin Sharma and Monish Chandiramani

Based: Dubai

Industry: E-grocery

Initial investment: $150,000

Future plan: Raise $1.5m and enter Saudi Arabia next year


Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

Tips for job-seekers
  • Do not submit your application through the Easy Apply button on LinkedIn. Employers receive between 600 and 800 replies for each job advert on the platform. If you are the right fit for a job, connect to a relevant person in the company on LinkedIn and send them a direct message.
  • Make sure you are an exact fit for the job advertised. If you are an HR manager with five years’ experience in retail and the job requires a similar candidate with five years’ experience in consumer, you should apply. But if you have no experience in HR, do not apply for the job.

David Mackenzie, founder of recruitment agency Mackenzie Jones Middle East


Bhuvan Bam
Instagram followers: 16.1 million
Bhuvan Bam is a 29-year-old comedian and actor from Delhi, who started out with YouTube channel, “BB Ki Vines” in 2015, which propelled the social media star into the limelight and made him sought-after among brands.
Kusha Kapila
Instagram followers: 3.1 million
Kusha Kapila is a fashion editor and actress, who has collaborated with brands including Google. She focuses on sharing light-hearted content and insights into her life as a rising celebrity.
Diipa Khosla
Instagram followers: 1.8 million
Diipa Khosla started out as a social media manager before branching out to become one of India's biggest fashion influencers, with collaborations including MAC Cosmetics.
Komal Pandey
Instagram followers: 1.8 million
Komal Pandey is a fashion influencer who has partnered with more than 100 brands, including Olay and smartphone brand Vivo India.
Nikhil Sharma
Instagram followers: 1.4 million
Nikhil Sharma from Mumbai began his online career through vlogs about his motorcycle trips. He has become a lifestyle influencer and has created his own clothing line.
Source: Hireinfluence, various

Gully Boy

Director: Zoya Akhtar
Producer: Excel Entertainment & Tiger Baby
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Kalki Koechlin, Siddhant Chaturvedi​​​​​​​
Rating: 4/5 stars


Name: PlanRadar
Started: 2013
Co-founders: Ibrahim Imam, Sander van de Rijdt, Constantin Köck, Clemens Hammerl, Domagoj Dolinsek
Based: Vienna, Austria
Sector: Construction and real estate
Current number of staff: 400+
Investment stage: Series B
Investors: Headline, Berliner Volksbank Ventures, aws Gründerfonds, Cavalry Ventures, Proptech1, Russmedia, GR Capital


July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone


Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

The Details

Kabir Singh

Produced by: Cinestaan Studios, T-Series

Directed by: Sandeep Reddy Vanga

Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Kiara Advani, Suresh Oberoi, Soham Majumdar, Arjun Pahwa

Rating: 2.5/5