Flying Schools Seek Alternatives Amid Training Fuel Shortage

IOC’s Gujarat refinery stands as the only facility producing Avgas in India since September 2022.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>(Source: Unsplash)</p></div>
(Source: Unsplash)

Amid a shortage of certified aviation gasoline, or Avgas, fly-training schools in India are seeking alternative sources to mitigate the impact. With Indian Oil Corp. previously serving as the primary supplier, these schools are now turning to private companies like Synergy to aid gasoline imports for temporary relief.

“There is some Avgas crunch, but several flying schools are divided on the subject,” according to Harsh Vardhan Pratap Singh, managing director at Falcon Aviation. “Many of the schools are now taking help from a private company for the supply because they needed an alternative.”

In the Indian aviation sector, commercial flights predominantly rely on aviation turbine fuel or ATF. However, it is the training institutes that heavily depend on Avgas, also known as 100 LL.

IOC’s Gujarat refinery has been the only facility producing this niche fuel in India since September 2022. Since then, the import of Avgas has reduced, with IOC catering to aviation training schools, it said in an emailed response.

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Avgas Shortage — A Conundrum

According to emailed responses from the IOC, there is no disruption in Avgas 100 LL’s supply.

“The recent issue stemmed from a delay in certification from the international lab and the same has been rectified,” it said.

Further, the company doesn’t expect any delays in certifications or in the subsequent supply of Avgas, it added.

However, several FTOs that NDTV Profit spoke with did not agree with this. They explained how, despite them contacting the IOC with requests for Avgas, the supply has yet to be restored.

Jati Dhillon, managing director of the Government Aviation Training Institute, Odisha, said that it had to ground its planes and halt pilot training because Avgas’ supply from the IOC was cut by almost 20% and hasn’t been restored since.

“Our requirement is about 10 barrels a week and ideally, it should not take IOC more than 4-5 days for certification of the fuel,” he said.

Mrinal Paul, MD of Alchemist Aviation, concurred. “It’s been almost two months since the IOC hasn’t supplied Avgas to us. So, we shifted to Synergy, a private company to help us with Avgas's supply and we don’t see a reason to go back to IOC,” he said.

The requirements of Avgas also vary from one FTO to another, but all of them can usually project their fuel requirements for up to six months.

Synergy To The Rescue

At present, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has certified 36 flying training institutes in India. Of these, 80–90% rely on Avgas for their daily operations. Since the import of this niche fuel is a hassle, Synergy—a Mumbai-based private company—has come as a respite to struggling schools for the moment.

The company, according to its website, caters to several industries like aesthetics, pharma, commercial spaces, aviation, and bearings, with Nimesh Vora at the helm.

"We were helping schools to import Avgas because it's a hassle for them otherwise," said Vora, founder of the company.

According to the people that NDTV Profit spoke with, while IOC supplies Avgas at around Rs 220 to Rs 240 per litre at present, with Synergy's help, the cost of procurement has come down to approximately Rs 200 per litre.

“The fuel coming with the help of this private company is about 10–20% cheaper, but we are keen on IOC’s supply restoration because it would be more reliable in the future,” Dhillon of GATI, Odisha, said.

Vora concurred and said that the shortage has happened for the first time but since the IOC has now understood the requirements, it would be in a better position to supply.