25-31 January 2013 #640

Difficult take off, Karobar

Prakash Shah, 21 January
Out of 33 candidates only Saurav Pratap Shah managed to pass this year’s Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) test, which qualifies pilots to fly in Nepal. The 50th CPL test administered by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) was the first computer-based exam and was based on Europe’s Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) standard.

Officials at CAAN believe the result might have been affected because of the new question pattern. The CPL test usually has a pass rate of 80 per cent, but this year’s result is the worstever on record. Even the deputy director general of CAAN, Min Raj Upadhyay, was shocked by the results.

The result has left the 32 candidates distraught, and they are blaming CAAN for setting questions that are higher than the required level. “We were asked questions for captain’s level which even those who have passed earlier CPL tests won’t be able to solve,” said one on the condition of anonymity, “we are not asking for easy questions, but it’s not fair that we were asked questions that are meant for captains in Europe.” The candidates claim the questions they were asked are meant for those who have completed the three year captain course.

However, CAAN has denied such allegations. “The European standard test cannot be blamed. The exam was problematic only for those who returned from the Philippines and South Africa,” explains Upadhyay.

With air crashes happening with frightening regularity, CAAN has made the technical examinations for pilots and technicians tougher and implemented strict criteria following Europe’s JAA. Since there is no provision for aviation courses in Nepal, students spend millions of rupees abroad. However, the dwindling number of domestic airlines means that unemployment is soaring. According to the Air Pilots’ Association, there are more than 300 unemployed pilots in Nepal who have passed the CPL test.