A BUDDING new breed of Chinese aviators is being propelled to lofty heights as the Government Flying Service (GFS) becomes localised. An intensive recruitment and training programme is preparing a swelling pool of locals to perform a range of vital missions including search and rescue, fire-fighting and police support. Demand for their skills is expected to peak before 1997 as the 20-strong team of expatriate GFS pilots dwindles. ''The training we are doing now is aimed at furnishing staff to take our places when we finally say, 'Over to you','' GFS deputy chief pilot Wayne Parsons, a 24-year Royal Australian Air Force veteran, said yesterday. ''It's been a slow process, but we are starting to steal a march on it now. More than likely, the GFS will come under local stewardship within the next three years. ''Our ranks will start to run down as these blokes become self-sustaining. The expatriates will be outnumbered soon.'' Former Kai Tak air traffic controller Michael Chan Chi-pui, 31, who has just been officially rated as a captain on Sikorsky S76 helicopters, is one of about 18 locals who will be left to fly the flag for the GFS. He and three other locals, who have notched up firsts by becoming the only four locally-trained pilots qualified to fly the multi-purpose machines, are at the cutting edge of a vigorous localisation scheme underway at the GFS, which succeeded the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force in April this year. But they have a long way to go before they can match the expatriate GFS pilots, most of whom have rounded off their flying CVs with extensive military service. The local helicopter pilots will need at least three years and hundreds more flying hours before they attain level-five status, which will qualify them for tasks such as advanced search and rescue at sea at night. ''It is something that can't be rushed because the locals, unlike the expatriates have nothing in the way of military experience they can fall back on if there is a problem,'' said GFS senior pilot and helicopter instructor, Barry Collier. ''Of course we are striving to avoid an accident so we are putting in a lot of careful planning.'' With two S70 Blackhawk helicopters, eight S76 types and two Super King Air fixed-wing aircraft on the tarmac and in the hangars at its Kowloon Bay headquarters, it is little wonder that most of the local GFS recruits have opted to follow the more protracted rotary training stream. Two locals - a psychiatric nurse and a former police officer - who have been newly handpicked to join the GFS will probably also be steered towards helicopters when their flight training starts. Captain Chan took time out yesterday to show his wife, Susan, the finer points of the cockpit of a helicopter which he has been looking forward to piloting solo since joining the GFS just over three years ago. ''Where else in the world could you have a job as good as this?'' he said. ''You simply cannot describe the kind of satisfaction you have when you've got a chance to fly in the sky. ''When I joined, I thought . . . I would have better prospects here because I was in the first batch of Chinese. It would be much harder to get to the top in the Civil Aviation Department.'' GFS controller Brian Cluer said he was confident all the local pilots would pass their training and take over the work of the expatriate officers by 1997.