Russian authorities are set to overhaul the country's pilot training system as part of a plan to cope with the lack of cockpit crews.
The Russian transport ministry has decided to ease educational requirements for mainline commercial pilots by waiving a regulation requiring trainees to have been through higher education.
A ministry spokesman said it would not require pilot license seekers take a full university course: "This route is protracted and incurs unnecessary extra costs. Each trainee should be free to choose between graduating and receiving sufficient basic training.
"In line with ICAO recommendations, we'll introduce a multi-crew pilot license (MPL) programme. It will allow students to undergo training in piloting a particular aircraft type during 18 months."
The new training programme is being implemented from this month. The spokesman said that applicants who had studied for two years in a technical institution could qualify for enrolment.
"Our goal is to meet a lack of commercial pilots in Russia before 2014," said deputy minister Valery Okulov, who expects 500 pilots to be trained in 2012 and 600 in 2013.
"Over the past few years, we've increased the number of flight simulators and funding for flight schools substantially."
Okulov said the MPL programme envisages a doubling of in-cockpit training time to 280h from 150h and will be based on collaboration between flight schools and carriers.
"Flight schools will teach to pilot single- and twin-engine trainers while carriers will sponsor training in piloting particular aircraft types."
Aeroflot and UTAir are to be the first two airlines to adopt the new system. "There are already 605 applications for taking a fast-track pilot training course," said Okulov.