General Awareness

April 04, 2017 @ 01:15 PM

April 04, 2017 @ 01:15 PM

K. J. Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research, Mumbai

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Team Management of Indian Air Force Pilots

Although most of us get fascinated by watching various aerobatics performed by Suryakirans and many other fighter planes up in the limitless sky, yet only a handful of people are aware of the team management involved behind performing such mind blowing aerobatics.  
For many, 8th October of every year which is observed as Air Force Day in India, is just a day for watching Air-shows over television sets, watching fighter planes doing aerobatics and helicopter swaying dangerously close to each other. However for the pilots who present this grand show, it is not just a show but an exhibition of their sheer talent, team Management, coordination and ensuring zero error.
Though the term “zero error” may sound small yet it is a prominent factor in putting up such a grand show of aerobatics whose absence may cost the lives of the pilots. It is because the Pilots posses these sheer qualities, that the air-show looks spectacular. The biggest lesson that is put forward through all the aerobatics performed by the pilots, for the rest of us is - “Importance of Team Management”. 
The beautiful formation of bright orange colored Surya Kiran aerobic team with a smoke of tricolor comes to everybody’s mind along with the word Air-show. 
Let us understand how they do it. The Surya Kiran Team consists of 13 pilots out of which only 9 are flying at any given point of time. Out of these nine members of the team one is the leader (commanding officer) who ensures a smooth team management by making sure that the team members inculcate following qualities among themselves-
1) Communication:  While in the training period he ensures that the co- pilots learn and improve continuously. This also includes that the team members must also learn all verbal and non-verbal communication. This is the reason why at the time of flying in various formation the pilots of Surya Kiran are seen indicating each other through their fingers and thumb.
2) Team co-ordination: The leader ensures that the team work is well coordinated, so that the team members not only focus on their own performance but also back up each other.
3) Decision making: While building the team and practicing the leader ensures that the team members inculcate qualities such as quick decision making, generating options, risk assessment, apt option selection etc.
4) Debriefing: It is also a various important aspects in the process of management. The leader debriefs the team members in order to assess their intelligence and understanding.   
The air planes in different formations may collide into each other if the pilots won’t posses the above mentioned qualities. To fly these Surya Kirans in a formation is not an easy job as it must be ensured that there is zero error at every stage of execution and the team management is strong enough, hence the pilots who fly Surya Kiran are one the best in India.
In the initial days, Surya Kiran team members faced a problem of side by side seating arrangement in the cockpits. The team member flying to the left of the leader have to fly from the right, however the left seat is the master seat. Hence some aircrafts were modified as per the need. The pleasing tri-color smoke produced by the Surya Kiran is generated using diesel. In case of colored smoke a dye is mixed along with the diesel. This is how the Surya Kiran paint the entire sky with tri color. 
Team Management is not limited to only Air Shows rather it is very much required even at the time of wars. Even a single glitch in the team management among the pilots may cause them the loss of their life. Hence it is must for all the pilots to poses sheer team management skills. History has witnessed that whenever there had been even a slight friction in the team management amongst the pilots their lives had gone at stakes. 
Most of the civilians are fantasized by the lavish lifestyle of the Air Force, however only the pilots of Indian Air Force understand the hard efforts that they put in which are generally overlooked. An ultimate lesson to be learnt- “Team Management” is a very important factor for achieving success.
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