Male’, Maldives – Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) has announced that the helicopters in the country will soon be operated by local pilots.
Speaking at a special press conference on Sunday, Chief of Defense Force Major General Abdullah Shamaal stated that there are no trained pilots within the MNDF who can operate the helicopters which were donated by the Indian Army. However, he highlighted that the process of training local pilots is on going at a very fast pace.
He also added that in order to speed up the process further, discussions are now on going with captain level personnel operating Dornier flights.
“I assure that there will be local pilots, whether it be in a helicopter or another air craft, in the near future.” Major General Abdullah Shamaal said.
This comes as a social media campaign has been initiated in the Maldives with the hashtag #IndiaOut, calling for the removal of Indian military personnel from the local land.
Adding to the statement regarding employing local pilots, Shamaal said that there are constraints with regards to the salaries of those who would be operating the helicopters, as the standard salary would be MVR 80,000 per month per each pilot. He revealed that in order to arrange this, changes would have to be brought to the existing salary structures.
He also added that at present time, all expenses concerning the helicopters are being managed by the Indian government.
The Advanced Lite helicopters of the Indian Navy are currently being used in the Maldives for search and rescue operations, transfer of patients from one area to another, and also in assisting the Maldivian defense personnel in monitoring the sea area.
The first helicopter was brought to the Maldives in 2010, during the reign of Former President Mohamed Nasheed. This helicopter is based in Addu City, while the second helicopter, which was brought in 2011, is now based in Laamu atoll.