Have you ever looked up at a passing jet and felt an intense desire to be at the controls, directing its graceful waltz through the air? If, yes, then brace yourself because I’m going to share the exhilarating secret of how to turn your greatest pilot aspirations into a heart-pounding reality. Prepare to go on an adventure that will make your soul soar, send you flying into the clouds, defying gravity, and enjoying the limitless freedom of the sky. Welcome to India’s complete guide on How To Become A Pilot, where the sky is simply not the limit, but an invitation to conquer the world with steel wings and gilded goals! Let’s start with the types of pilots and licenses! Are you all set to take off?
Let’s start with the types of pilots and licenses! Are you all set to take off?
Types of pilots:
Pilots are classified into many kinds, each with its own specialization and training. Here are some examples of typical categories of pilots:
- Commercial airline pilots: They work for airlines and fly big commercial aircraft like airliners. On planned flights, they convey people and cargo.
- Military pilot: They are educated to operate military planes and serve in the armed services. They may be engaged in combat operations, surveillance, transportation, or other specialized military functions.
- Private pilots: They operate small aircraft for personal or leisure reasons. They often have a private pilot license (PPL) and fly for fun or to go small distances.
- Helicopter Pilots: They only fly helicopters. They might operate in a variety of sectors, such as air ambulance services, search and rescue operations, law enforcement, or as tour pilots.
- Airline Transport Pilots (ATPs): ATPs are pilots who have completed the most advanced level of certification and training. They are qualified to fly bigger aircraft and may serve as captains or first officers on commercial airlines.
- Cargo Pilots: They are specialized in the aviation delivery of products and cargo. They may work for cargo airlines or as part of a bigger airline’s cargo business.
- Aerobatic pilots: They are experts in performing aerobatic maneuvers and flying in air shows or competitions. They demonstrate precise flying and spectacular maneuvers in specially designed aerobatic planes.
- Test pilots: They assess the performance and safety of new or modified aircraft. They perform flying tests to collect data on the capabilities, handling characteristics, and systems of the aircraft.
- Agricultural Pilots: Crop dusters, or agricultural pilots, fly aircraft fitted with spraying equipment to administer fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides to crops. They aid in the preservation of agricultural fields’ health and output.
- Seaplane pilots: They operate aircrafts that can take off and land on water. They may offer transportation, sightseeing excursions, or other services in places with lakes, rivers, or coastal regions.
These are only a few examples; more specialized sorts of pilots exist, depending on the aircraft or sector in which they operate. To guarantee the safe and competent operation of the aircraft, each kind of pilot needs specialized training and certifications.
Types of pilot licenses:
Various types of pilot licenses
- The Student Pilot Licence (SPL): It is the first stage of pilot training, allowing persons to learn to fly under the supervision of a certified flight instructor (CFI). SPL holders are restricted in the types of aircraft they may fly and must operate under specified parameters.
- Private Pilot Licence (PPL): A PPL is a well-known license that permits persons to fly for personal or recreational reasons. PPL holders can fly most single-engine aircraft and transport people, but they cannot fly for pay or hire.
- Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL): The Commercial Pilot Licence is a professional pilot license that allows people to fly for pay or for rent. CPL holders may work in a variety of aviation positions, such as charter flights, aerial photography, and flight teaching.
- Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL): The highest degree of pilot qualification is the Airline Transport Pilot Licence. ATPL holders may fly large commercial aircraft as pilot-in-command (PIC) and operate in airline operations. A large amount of flying hours and training are required for the ATPL.
Now you came to know about the types of pilots and licenses, it is time to find out the skills and qualifications needed to become a pilot in India
Skills needed to become a pilot:
Communication skills: Pilots need excellent verbal and written communication skills to engage with air traffic control, crew, and passengers.
- Situational Awareness: Pilots must be aware of their surroundings, aircraft systems, instruments, and weather to make informed decisions during flights.
- Problem-Solving Skills: Pilots must be able to solve difficulties to handle emergencies during flights. They must think, examine, and draw conclusions quickly.
- Decision making: Pilots must be effective and swift in taking decisions. They must weigh options and determine what’s best for the airplane and its passengers.
- Eye hand- coordination: Pilots need good hand-eye coordination and dexterity to operate aircraft controls precisely.
- Attention to Detail: In aviation, attention to detail is critical to guarantee appropriate procedure execution, checklist adherence, and precise monitoring of aircraft systems and instruments.
- Multitasking Skills: Pilots must often handle numerous duties at the same time, including talking with air traffic control, checking instruments, and maintaining a safe flying route. It is critical to be able to multitask successfully.
- Emotional stability: Pilots must be able to regulate their emotions and manage stress in challenging conditions. They should be equipped to handle pressure, stay focused, and make sensible judgments for the crew and passengers.
- Teamwork and Leadership: Pilots need to operate as part of a team and work alongside crew members and ground workers, hence teamwork and leadership skills become essential for effective and smooth operations.
Flexible: Pilots must be adaptive and flexible in order to respond to changing events, weather conditions, and flight plans. As the aviation industry develops, they must be willing to acquire new methods and technology.
In addition to these talents, prospective pilots in India must complete particular training and meet the qualifications stipulated by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the country’s civil aviation regulating authority. Obtaining the proper licenses, completing flying hours, and passing written and practical exams are all essential parts of the process of becoming a Pilot.
Let us look at the eligibility and qualifications to become a commercial pilot in India.
Eligibility to become a Pilot:
The prerequisites for becoming a pilot differ based on the nation and the particular restrictions established by the aviation authorities. In India, the following qualifications are required to become a pilot:
- Age: The minimum age to commence flying training is 17 years old. The minimum age to get a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) is 18 years.
- Educational Qualification: The applicant must have finished 10+2 (or equivalent) with Physics and Mathematics as subjects with at least 50% in order to join a flying training facility. Some institutions may have extra educational qualifying requirements or preferences. Also If a person is not a science student, then he/she can take the needed topics through the National Institute of Open Schooling or as a private candidate through the corresponding state board.
- Medical Fitness: Candidates must fulfill the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) medical fitness criteria. They must pass a medical test performed by authorized aviation medical examiners to determine their physical and mental fitness.
- English Language Proficiency: DGCA ELP Test (Engilish Language Proficiency Test) is a test that all pilots in India should take in order to get or renew their pilot’s license. This exam tests a pilot’s English communication skills (both verbal and written)
This test is based on 6-level ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) Language Proficiency Rating Scale. In India, the minimum level for pilots is Level 4.
The examination is broken into three sections:
Reading: This section assesses the pilot’s ability to understand written English.
Listening: The pilot’s ability to hear spoken English is tested in this segment.
Speaking: This element assesses the pilot’s ability to communicate clearly and effectively in English.
A panel of examiners, who are either English language experts or experienced pilots, administers the examination. The pilot’s performance on each area of the test will be graded by the examiners. The sum of the three points yields the final score.
To pass the DGCA ELP Test, a pilot must achieve at least Level 4. If a pilot fails the exam, they have 30 days to retake it.
- Pilot Aptitude exam: Flying training schools in India require students to take a pilot aptitude exam to determine their flying ability. This exam assesses cognitive abilities such as spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination, multitasking, and decision-making ability.
- Before or after successful completion of the flying course, one has to clear the final exam conducted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Five DGCA theoretical exams need to be cleared, namely:
- 1.Air navigation
- 2.Aviation Meteorology
- 3.Air Regulations
- 4.Technical general
- 5.Technical specific
Radio Telephony Examination- The candidate also has to clear a Radio Telephony (RTR) exam conducted by Government of India (MINISTRY OF Telecommunications) six times in a year. This exam as the name suggests makes a pilot proficient in the field of radio telecommunications as all the work which is done up in the air is dependent upon radio communication.
Financial Capability: Pursuing a profession as a pilot may be expensive. Candidates must be financially capable of covering the costs of flight training, including flying hours, ground school, exams, and other related charges.
Physical requirements to become a pilot (Male Candidate)
- Height: 163.5 cm
- Vision: 6/6 in one eye and 6/9 in other
- Leg length: 99 cms to 120 cms
- Thigh length: 64 cms
- Sitting height: 81.5 cm to 96 cm
Physical requirements to become a pilot (Female Candidate)
- Height: 162.5 cm
- Vision: 6/6 in one eye and 6/9 in other
- Leg length: 99 cms to 120 cms
- Thigh length: 64 cms
- Sitting height: 81.5 cm to 96 cm
Some of the leading institutes for pursuing an Aviation course:
- Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Academy (IGRUA), Rae Bareilly
● Rajiv Gandhi Academy of Aviation Technology, Kerala
● National Flying Training Institute, Gondia
● Bombay Flying Club, Mumbai
● Ahmedabad Aviation & Aeronautics Ltd., Ahmedabad
● Madhya Pradesh Flying Club (MPFC), Indore
● CAE Oxford Aviation Academy, Gondia,
● Indigo Cadet Training Program, (Hamilton, New Zealand & Hyderabad, India)
Note: Every institute has its respective specifications concerning physical fitness, and eyesight specifically.
Additionally, I would like to point out that the cost to become a commercial pilot in India is quite high. However, there is an alternative way to become a pilot in India and that is by joining the Indian Defense Forces. Read on for more information.
How to become a commercial pilot:
A Commercial Pilot is a pilot who flies a specific aircraft type for an airline and holds a commercial pilot certificate issued by an authority. In India, the authority is the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Being a commercial pilot comes with a lot of responsibility. You will be responsible for hundreds of lives in a single aircraft, taking them from point A to point B in the fastest and safest way possible.
So, if you wish to enter this career path, or know someone who does, you are at the right place.
Subject Requirements to Become a Commercial Pilot
To pursue Aviation as a career, you need to opt for the science stream – Physics, Mathematics, and Chemistry being compulsory subjects. If you do not have Physics and Maths in your higher secondary, then after completing or alongside that you have the option of doing these two subjects from National Institute of Open Schooling and then start your Pilot training course that will permit you to take off flights approved by the flying clubs of the country.
Entrance Examinations to Become a Commercial Pilot
Admission to a pilot training course happens through a set entrance procedure that includes a written test, medical examination, and an interview. Please note a minimum of 50% is required in class 12th to join a flying school. The minimum age to apply for Pilot License, are as follows:
- Student Pilot License is 16 years
- Private Pilot License is 17 years
- Commercial Pilot License is 18 years
How Do You Become a Commercial Airline Pilot in India?
Following are the steps you need to take in order to become a commercial pilot:
Obtain a Student Pilot License
To obtain a student pilot license, you would have to appear for an entrance examination. This consists of an Oral test and will be taken by the Chief Instructor at the School, or the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) representative. This license allows you to get flying training and permits you to take off flights on gliders or small planes that are generally provided by approved flying clubs in the country.
SPL is a prerequisite for obtaining Private Pilot License and Commercial Pilot License. No flight experience is required to obtain SPL. The candidate must be at least 16 years old at the time of issue of his/her student Pilot’s License with a minimum qualification of 10th standard.
Enroll in a Flying School and Pursue B.Sc. in Aviation
This admission procedure generally consists of the following:
Written Examination- The test encompasses general English, Maths, Physics, and Reasoning (10+2 standard).
Pilot Aptitude Test- The test will assess your aptitude in Air Regulation, Air Navigation, Aviation Meteorology, Aircraft, and Engine Knowledge
Personal Interview and DGCA Medical examination- The candidates succeeding in the written examination and aptitude test will be required to take a medical assessment conducted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Govt. of India.
How to become a pilot through Indian Defence Forces (Airforce)
If flying is your passion, but you do not wish to spend a fortune on your pilot training program, then Indian Defence Forces could be the answer for you. Here, not only do you get pilot training free of cost, but you also get to serve your nation, become a class-I officer, and get a lucrative salary, during your training itself.
Indian Armed Forces majorly focus on OLQs (Officer Like Quality) while selecting all their candidates. These are 15 characteristic traits that a candidate must possess in order to become a successful military officer. So, if you think you possess traits like Effective Intelligence, Reasoning Ability, Social Adaptability, Courage, Stamina, etc. to name a few, the Indian Armed Forces can be the right choice for you.
How to Become a Pilot in the Indian Air Force after Class 12th?
NDA Entry to the Air Force
The National Defence Academy (NDA) is the first opportunity that you would get, to be a part of this esteemed institute and join the flying branch. Under this entry, the selected candidates are trained for a period of 3 years, at the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla. After the successful completion of the training, candidates are commissioned as Permanent Commission Officers and posted as a Pilot at one of the Air Force Stations.
If you plan to join NDA, you will need to qualify for the NDA entrance examination.
Everything you need to know about the NDA entrance examination:
NDA (Union Public Service Commission National Defence Academy and Naval Academy Exam)
The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) administers the NDA Entrance Examination, which acts as the entry point for admission to the Army, Navy, and Air Force branches of the NDA.
- Exam pattern: It is a written examination
- Duration: 5 hours (2.5 hours for each paper – Mathematics & GAT)
- Marking scheme:
Mathematics: 300 marks (Each question is worth 2.5 marks.)
GAT (General Ability Test): 600 marks (Each question is worth four marks.)
- SSB Interview: Shortlisted applicants who pass NDA written test are invited to the Services Selection Board (SSB) Interview, which comprises screening tests, psychological tests, group testing officer tasks, personal interview,s and conference
NDA Eligibility Criteria
If you are passionate about serving your country and being a part of the Indian defense forces, then you don’t have to wait until you are a graduate. NDA is the only entry that allows you to be a part of this esteemed institution right after you finish your higher secondary. The minimum age to apply is 16 ½ and the maximum age is 19 years.
Only Male candidates can apply for NDA. While applying for this entry you should have cleared 10+2 with Physics and Mathematics. Students appearing in the final year of their college are also eligible to apply.
How to Become a Pilot in the Indian Air Force after Graduation?
1. CDSE Entry to the Air Force
Combined Defence Services Examination (CDSE) is for people who want to join the Indian Air Force after graduation. The selected candidates are sent for training at the Air Force Academy, Hyderabad, wherein they undergo Pre-Flying Training School. Post completion of the training, the commissioned officers are assigned their flying units.
Everything you need to know about CDSE exams:
CDSE (Union Public Service Commission Combined Defence Services)
- Exam pattern: It is a written examination
- Duration: 6 hours (2 hours for each paper – English, GK, Elementary Mathematics)
- Marking scheme:
English – 120 (1 mark each)
GK – 120 (1 mark each)
Elementary Mathematics – 100 (1 mark each)
- SSB Interview: Shortlisted applicants who pass CDSE written test are invited to the Services Selection Board (SSB) Interview, which comprises screening tests, psychological tests, group testing officer tasks, personal interviews, and conferences.
CDSE Eligibility Criteria
Only Male graduates (Three Year Course) in any discipline from a recognised University (with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level) / BE / B Tech (Four Year Course), holding an Indian passport are eligible to apply for CDSE entry. The minimum age to apply is 19 years to 23 years. The candidate should be unmarried at the time of applying.
*Please note- While filling up the application form for both NDA and CDSE, you will have to mention the preference of your wing, that is Air Force.
2. AFCAT Entry to the Airforce (SSC)
SSC stands for Short Service Commission. Under this entry scheme, candidates cannot serve in the Indian Air Force for more than 14 years. To join this branch, the candidates have to qualify for the Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT). The selected candidates are then sent for a 74 weeks training course at the Air Force Academy, Dundigal.
Everything you need to know about AFCAT:
Entrance exams for pilot course
The Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT) is the admission test for the pilot programme offered by the Indian Air Force (IAF). The Indian Air Force holds a national-level competitive test called AFCAT twice a year to choose applicants for several branches, including the Flying Branch.
Here are some important AFCAT test details:
- Exam pattern: AFCAT is a computer-based test (CBT) that consists of multiple-choice questions (MCQs). General Awareness, Verbal Ability, Numerical Ability, Reasoning, and Military Aptitude are some of the topics covered in the test.
- Duration: The AFCAT test lasts around 2 hours (120 minutes).
- Marking Scheme: Each right answer receives three points, while each wrong answer receives one point.
- SSB Interview: Shortlisted applicants who pass the AFCAT written test are invited to the Services Selection Board (SSB) Interview, which comprises Psychological Tests, Group Tests, and Personal Interview.
SSC Eligibility Criteria
You should be a graduate (Three Year Course) in any discipline from a recognised University (with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level) / BE / B Tech (Four Year Course) with a minimum 60% marks in aggregate. Unlike other entries, SSC allows both Male and female candidates to apply and be a part of this esteemed institution. The minimum age required at the time of commencement, of course, is 19 years to 23 years.
If you hold a valid and current Commercial Pilot Licence issued by DGCA (India), then you can get age relaxation up to 25 years. Similar to the other entries, you should be unmarried and be a citizen of India.
3. NCC Entry to the Air Force
If you were a part of your school’s NCC society and are an Air Wing Senior Division ‘C’ Certificate holder, then you can join the Air Force (Flying Branch) through the Directorate General National Cadet Corps or through your respective NCC Air Squadrons. If a candidate has secured an “A” or “B” grade in their “C” Certificate then they can directly appear for the SSB Interview.
NCC Entrance Procedure
It consists of the following:
SSB Interview- This consists of two stages:
- Stage 1- Officer Intelligence Test and a Picture Perception and discussion test.
- Stage 2– Only if you clear Stage 1, you will qualify for Stage 2. This comprises Psychological tests conducted by a psychologist, group tasks, and a personal interview.
Pilot Aptitude Test- This is once in a lifetime examination. If you don’t clear this in the first time, you are never eligible to appear for the flying branch again. This consists of written and machine tests to evaluate you on the basis of your ability to read instruments, control of your actions, and mental strength.
Medical examination- The minimum height required for males is 162.5 cm with correlated weight. Eye Vision Should be 6/6 in one eye and 6/9 in other, correctable to 6/6 only for Hypermetropia.
NCC Eligibility Criteria
You should hold an NCC Air Wing Senior Division ’C’ certificate to be eligible for this entry. Only Male candidates can apply for NCC entry. You must be unmarried and should be an Indian citizen. The minimum age to apply is 19 years and the maximum is 23 years. You should be a graduate (Three Year Course) in any discipline from a recognised University (with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level) / BE / B Tech (Four Year Course) with a minimum 60% marks in aggregate.
Lastly, I would like to add that, no one field is better than the other. Both the fields would require you to possess good decision-making skills, perseverance, and the ability to understand and cope with unprecedented situations. So, if you are determined, and possess the qualities, then I would encourage you to think of making a career in this field and fly in 3-Dimensional space.
Benefits of choosing pilot as a career:
A job as a pilot may provide several advantages and prospects. Here are some of the primary benefits of choosing a career as a pilot:
- Work that is both thrilling and exciting: Piloting an airplane is a one-of-a-kind and amazing experience. You get to soar high in the sky, see new places, and experience a feeling of freedom and adventure.
- Global Travel: As a pilot, you will have the chance to travel to different parts of the globe. You may learn about other cultures, meet new people, and travel across various landscapes.
- Salary: Pilots often earn excellent salaries and have appealing perks to keep them motivated.
- Personal Development: Becoming a pilot needs discipline, attention, and ongoing education. Your professional training and experience contribute to your personal development by improving your decision-making talents, leadership skills, and problem-solving abilities.
- Professional Development and progress: There are prospects for professional development and progress in the aviation sector. Pilots may advance from entry-level jobs to higher ones like as captain or instructor.
- Networking and Connections: Working in the aviation business helps you to develop a professional network. These contacts might be beneficial for future job prospects and professional partnerships.
- Varied career paths: Pilots may pursue a variety of professional routes in the aviation industry. You may fly for commercial airlines, work as a business pilot, join the military, do aerial surveying or firefighting, or even become a flying teacher or examiner.
- Continuous Learning and Skill Development: Because aviation is a dynamic industry, pilots must get frequent training and keep current on technical breakthroughs. This guarantees that you are always learning and improving your skills throughout your career.
- Job Satisfaction: The excitement of flying, the feeling of achievement, and the potential to make a good difference in the lives of passengers all contribute to high job satisfaction for many pilots.
It’s crucial to emphasize that becoming a pilot involves dedication, hard effort, and a strong commitment to safety. Furthermore, the aviation business may have its own set of obstacles, such as erratic work hours and time away from home. However, the pleasures and rewards may be extremely gratifying for people who are enthusiastic about aviation and flying.
Q: How much does it cost to become a pilot in India?
A: The cost of becoming a pilot in India varies according to the type of pilot license and training school. It might vary from a few lakhs to crores of rupees.
Q: What qualifications do you need to become a pilot in India?
A: In order to become a pilot in India, you must have finished 10+2 with Physics and Mathematics as essential courses. You must also pass medical exams, get a CPL and complete the necessary flying training.
Q: Is piloting a high-paying job in India?
A: Yes, becoming a pilot may be a lucrative career in India. Commercial airline pilots, particularly those with experience, can earn competitive pay and perks.
Q: Is pilot study very hard?
A: Becoming a pilot needs commitment and hard effort. It entails studying difficult topics including aviation theory, navigation, meteorology, and aircraft systems. However, with the right devotion and training, it is possible.
Q: How long is the pilot course?
A: The length of the pilot course varies depending on the kind of license and the training program. A private pilot license may take several months to get, whereas a commercial pilot license might take many years.
Q: Can I become a pilot after 21?
A: Yes, you may become a pilot beyond the age of 21. There is no higher age restriction for beginning pilot training in India, but you must fulfill the necessary qualifying requirements and medical standards.
Q: How many hours do pilots work?
A: Pilots’ working hours vary based on the kind of operation and the airline. Pilots may work odd hours, such as early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays. Duty hour limits are usually in place to provide proper rest and safety.
Q: Is pilot a government job?
A: Pilots may work in the public and private sectors. Pilot positions are available in government organizations like the Indian Air Force, Indian Navy, and numerous public sector airlines in India.