Colombo Telegraph

SriLankan CEO Capt. Ratwatte Ditches Cadet Pilots’ Dreams

Six Mihin Lanka Cadet Pilots whose flight training was abruptly terminated by the newly appointed CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte of SriLankan Airlines, have officially written to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe seeking his intervention to restart their programme.

Suren Ratwatte

CEO Capt. Ratwatte who secured his job through the means of a nepotistic appointment found fault with the recruitment and assessment criteria used by Mihin Lanka that selected the students of this First Officer programme.

The assessment criteria which was part of the cadet pilot’s recruitment process was conducted by the Alpha Aviation Group whose services had already been used in the past to assess over 70 current pilots flying for Sri Lankan Airlines. This was way before Capt.Ratwatte joined the airline.

The cadets who commenced their training programme on the 10th of July 2015 completed their ground school training on the 28th September 2015 which was incidentally three days prior to CEO Capt. Ratwatte joining Sri Lankan Airlines.

Thereafter their simulator training was halted and they were informed that they were going to be reassessed once again by a different company.

The cadets who had already signed contracts with Mihin Lanka had made payments for the course which was to eventually cost them over Rs 8 million.

Some cadets had even obtained bank loans for this purpose after the contract was signed.

It is yet to be established what the real reason was for CEO Capt.Ratwatte to have made such a decision.

However it is a known fact that eight other cadet pilots who are sons of current senior pilots of Sri Lankan Airlines are awaiting to be enlisted into the national carrier.

We publish below the letter in full which the cadet pilot batch sent to Prime Minister’s Office:

Hon. Prime Minister,

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

Prime Minister’s Office

No: 58, Sir Ernest De Silva Mawatha,

Colombo 07.

Dear Honourable Prime Minister,


We write with reference to the above subject matter and hence initially give you an insight of the entire development of the situation initially. As per the initial advertisement published on local newspapers upon receipt of numerous applications from eligible candidates the initial interview was held on the 07th May, 2015. Upon successful screening from the first interview, the selected candidates were subjected to the secondary evaluation carried out by a very reputed Alpha Aviation Group.

Kindly note the assessment held by Alpha Aviation Group consisted of all professional aspects required and was carried out very thoroughly by the very experienced interview panel. The interview panel was head by two very experienced captains.

As it is evident this whole process is a very thorough screening process and was overlooked and monitored by Sri Lanka’s most experience pilots namely Capt, Pujitha Jayakody and Capt. Themiya Abeywickrama. If required you may pull out our personnel files and see the professional way the screening was carried out.
Eventually upon screening about 40 candidates 06 were selected to follow Trainee First Officer Program. Upon completion of same we were advised to be present at head office on the 06th of July, 2015 to sign the training contract which assures completion of training by Mihin Lanka.

Thereby our initial training began on the 10th of July, 2015 by commencing the ground school phase. Please note we completed the ground school phase successfully on the 28th of September, 2015. Then we were waiting for the next phase of our training which is the simulator phase. But unfortunately the merger of Sri Lankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka took place in between and we were kept idling around without any information or clarification. During this period we requested for any clarification from Sri Lankan Airlines regarding the training progress. For same we met the Deputy Chief Pilot Training and Standards Captain. Romesh De Silva at his office where he assured that the training department has been taken over by Sri Lankan and the training will proceed as per what we were initially agreed by Mihin Lanka.

All this time we were waiting for any information and when we addressed the officials in charge of training we were given vague answers stating that “We are currently assessing the carder requirement and we will give you all a feedback soon”. Which at that time too sounded very un-professional and very unofficial. Also it is noteworthy we were not kept informed about any of the future planning and proceeding of the training.

Then we were asked to be present for a briefing on the 31st of December, 2015 at the Operation Department of Sri Lankan Airlines. When we went without any information of who is going to be present at the meeting or about what we were going to discuss at the meeting, the CEO came and gave us this shocking news that Sri Lankan will have another evaluation in 06 days to evaluate the 06 of us and upon passing the evaluation the selected will proceed the training. We are well educated enough to know that what Sri Lankan Airlines is planning since they have become excess staff of late. Hon. Minister please note Sri Lankan has been recruiting unnecessarily during the past years. Kindly note in our batch we all have Frozen ATPL, and 04 of us have higher education qualifications and Advanced level (Maths and Physics Requested even by Sri Lankan Airlines during past intakes). Therefore no one can blame us for lack of qualification or lack of professionalism in the recruitment process. But all Sri Lankan Airlines previous intakes have been questioned by many, even the senior captains.

At the meeting on the 31st of December, 2015 we were informed that Alpha Aviation screening process is not professional enough and it has many loop holes. Alpha Aviation is a very reputed organization in UK carrying out screenings for various reputed international airlines. Also it is noteworthy that Alpha Aviation did screening for many years for Sri Lankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka for many years and over 70 first officers who are flying now are from alpha aviation screening system. This will then eventually suggest who are flying screened out of this system is not eligible and they too should be screened again. It is noteworthy that the CTC Aviation interview panel consisted only of two ladies who has no flying experience. It is our belief that to recruit pilots at least one experienced pilot should head the interview panel.

As per the administration CTC Aviation has already been informed and Sri Lankan Airlines is willing to spend unnecessary government money to re-access us. It is very un-ethical what the administration has done as we were not made aware of any of the progress and at the last minute the administration verbally informed us of what they have decided.

Therefore we sincerely request you considering the unprofessional nature the incident has transpired to allow us to continue our training as agreed by Mihin Lanka, at the acceptance of the agreed charges. Please note we have spent our most important time towards this training and we have psychologically adapted our systems to be pilots.
This is a very bad game which is been played by the Sri Lankan administration and it is clearly to do with the lives and future of young pilots. Please consider to Also at the same time to carry out a thorough investigation on our incident and also previous intakes which will suggest the biased nature of recruitment operated by Sri Lankan Airlines to satisfy Captains and Administrators.

Thanking you and expecting your sincere assistance and advice,

Yours Faithfully,


Back to Home page