Air India had a strength of 1,464 pilots as on February 1 this year.

"In view of the fleet augmentation and the retirements to take place in the next two years, Air India has advertised for filing up of 197 vacancies," Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said in a written reply to Lok Sabha.

Last fiscal, the carrier hired just one pilot while there was no recruitment of pilots in 2013-14 period. Prior to that, 2 pilots were hired in 2012-13 fiscal while the number stood at 39 during 2011-12 financial year.

According to the Minister, pilots are subjected to fly only within the applicable Flight Duty and Time Limitations (FDTL).

Necessary system has been in place, whereby, all operational situations are catered for exercising better supervision and control, he noted.

"Only in exceptional and unavoidable, unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of airline, pilots are requested to complete the flight to avoid delays which cause inconvenience to passengers by giving extensions within applicable rules," Sharma said.

He was responding to a query on whether there have been instances where pilots, including those from Air India, have been made to work extra time due to shortage of people.     

The Minister also noted that there is no proposal at present to amend the pilots' working hour rules.

To a question on whether Air India is considering to employ foreign pilots, Sharma replied in negative.

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