A day after Air India rejected 56 candidates out of the 160 pilots selected for recruitment interviews for flying A320 aircraft, a group of pilots, some of them from Mumbai, has alleged that the psychometric test that was the ground for their rejection was conducted in an improper manner.
Following the Germanwings flight crash, Air India had made psychometric tests mandatory for induction of pilots and cabin crew and had a psychologist from the Indian Air Force (IAF) to check mental fitness of candidates.
In February, the national carrier had advertised 197 posts of pilots for its A320 aircraft that mainly flies on domestic routes. According to the airline, around 260 candidates were called for the first round, the simulator test, and 160 were selected for the interviews, that was to be followed by hiring.
After the results, a group of the candidates, that included some from Mumbai, in a letter to Air India executives alleged that the psychometric tests were not conducted properly.
“A pilot cannot be judged in a psychometric test in a span of 10 minutes and, that too, via verbal communication. Without conducting a proper psychometric test, how can a doctor conclude that all the rejected candidates are mentally unfit? If that is the case, then can Air India explain how among the rejected candidates there are some who have been selected to pilot Go Air and Indigo Airlines,” said the letter.
The group pointed out that the candidates who did not make it had cleared the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Class-1 Medicals, which includes electroencephalography (EEG).
“If we were mentally unstable, then why grant us medical certificate in the first place? Instead of a written test or a detailed questionnaire, the doctor just asked us random questions for 10 minutes and was scribbling notes the whole time, without inquiring about any medical condition or prior mental health history or checking our records,”a pilot said.
The group has requested Air India officials to re-evaluate the list and conduct a mandatory written test for all the 160 short-listed candidates, which will give a better insight into the candidate’s mental status rather than just one doctor making the evaluation, that too in a 10-minute verbal communication.
The airline, however, said that only those who cleared both tests were selected, as per the new policy.
“The tests were verbal and the doctor took notes. We are following FAA guidelines and got a psychologist from the Air Force. This is the first time that a psychologist from the Indian Air Force is being associated with the selection board. Candidates found suitable by the selection board, which includes the psychologist, and taking into account the marks obtained both in simulator proficiency assessment check and personal interview, they have been empanelled for the post merit-wise,” said an Air India spokesperson, in an email response.