How to Become a Pilot in India - The aviation sector is something that is catching attention in huge masses. If a person is aspiring to become a pilot and live the life up in the sky it is the right time to live that dream. 

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Who is a Pilot 

A pilot or an aviator is a person who uses his technical skills to manoeuvre and controls the flight of an aircraft for different purposes. An aircraft can be used for various purposes such as transportation of civilians, goods from one place to another. They are also used for military purposes such as surveillance, missile strikes, and bombing. Read on to find out on How to become a Pilot.

How to Become a Pilot

In India, there are two ways of becoming a Pilot, they are as follows.

  1. By procuring a Commercial Pilot license (CPL) 
  2. By becoming a Pilot in the Indian Air Force (IAF)

Civil Aviation License includes licenses like Student Pilot License which can be availed at 16 years, a private pilot license which can be availed at 17 years and the final license which allows you to fly passenger flights are Commercial Pilot License which can be availed after 18 years of age. The rules for procuring the license for Indian Air Force differs from one type of procedure to another.

How to become a Commercial Pilot in India

Commercial pilots are the pilots who are eligible to fly the passenger flights for commercial airlines. They have the responsibility of helping hundreds to reach from point A to point B in the most efficient and safe manner.

The requirements to be a pilot changes from one institution to another. Few of the credentials that are common among all institutions are that the candidate should be an Indian citizen, has to be unmarried and can’t have any mental or physical problems. One can apply for a student pilot license at the age of 16 years. The candidates should ensure that they have studied Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics in their 10+2. They should also have an aggregate score of 50% in all subjects. To become get the commercial pilot license you need to study B.Sc. aviation from a well-recognized academy which has been recognized by Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Every college will conduct an entrance test before admitting students for their programs.

Before handing out the commercial pilot licenses, the candidates will be given a student pilot licenses which will allow the students to fly the small planes or gliders. To avail the student pilot license the candidates have to go through the below tests:

  • Written examination: This examination is conducted in order to test the knowledge of students in subjects like English, Physics, and Mathematics. It is mandatory for those aspiring to study aviation to have studied physics and mathematics in higher secondary.

  • Pilot Aptitude Test: In this exam, the candidate’s technical knowledge regarding the field of aviation will be done. Their knowledge in areas like aviation meteorology, aircraft and engine technology, navigation, and aircraft regulation.

  • Personal interview and DGCA medical examination: The personal interview can either be done by the authorities from the college or can be done by the officials of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Council. The medical examination will be done only by the assigned doctors from DGCA. This is done to ensure that the candidate is in their best mental and physical health.

After getting the student pilot license the aspiring pilots are expected to have completed 250 hours of ground experience. Whether to grant the candidate with the license will be decided completely by the DGCA council. The test will be an oral examination where the students have to get through in one attempt or will not be allowed to apply again.

How to become a Pilot in Indian Air Force

People who are passionate to serve the nation can opt for the courses that provide defence licenses. The most advantageous part of getting into a course which will give out the defence license is it is free and after successful completion of the training, you will be paid well. If you are considered to be efficient, you may be paid during the training period as well.

The candidate who is applying for the Indian airforce license is expected to possess certain qualities because serving the nation is a duty that is accompanied by great responsibility. They shouldn’t just possess the characteristics of a great pilot but also should possess the characteristics of a great soldier. They should have the presence of mind, agility, efficient decision-making skills, sense of questioning, adaptability to change, stamina, and a firm mind.

The range of options through which one can become a pilot by getting the license from the Indian Airforce is a lot. You can get the license by directly applying that is by applying to National Defense Academy (NDA), by being an active member of the National Cadet Corps society and are an Air Wing Senior Division ‘C’ Certificate holder, by taking up the Short Service Commission which is a scheme that allows you to be a part of the Indian Airforce for just 14 years, or you can even apply through Combined Defence Services Examination (CDSE).

Entrance Exams For IAF

For a candidate to enter the Indian Air Force, he/she can take several types of entrance exam that are conducted by the Govt. of India. Here is the list of entrance exams 

  • SSC
  • CDSE
  • NDA
  • NCC

Short Service Commission (SSC)

The Short Service Commission Board conducts the AFCAT exam annually. Interested candidates can apply for the AFCAT exam to become a Pilot through the AFCAT stream.

  • This scheme allows the candidates to be in the army for only 14 years.

  • To be qualified for this scheme the candidate has to go through Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT). If the candidate is qualified they will be sent for a 74 weeks training at the Air Force Academy located in Dundigal.

  • The selection process is exactly the same as that of NCC.

  • Here also the candidate’s quality like psychological stability, subject knowledge and perception of images and visuals be tested.

  • The eligibility criteria include conditions like the candidate should have Indian citizenship, should be unmarried and be in between the ages of 19 years and 25 years.

  • Apart from these credentials, the candidate should also be a graduate of course like B.E or B.tech.

Combined Defence Services Examination (CDSE)

The Combined Defence Service Exam is conducted twice yearly during the months of February and September. Anyone who is within the age limit and determined to crack the exam can apply for it and choose the Indian Air Force - Flying Branch. Follow the instructions below for better results.This is the best option for those who wish to serve in the air force after their graduation.

  • Eligibility criteria include requirements such as the candidate should be of Indian citizenship, should be unmarried and the minimum age for applying through this is 19 years and maximum age is 23 years.

  • The selection process happens in four rounds, namely, written test, SSB interview, Pilot aptitude test, and Medical examination. 

  • The written test is used for scrutinizing the students on the basis of their theoretical knowledge in subjects like English, physics, and mathematics.

  • The SSB interview has tests that test your visual perception, psychological stability, how you work as a team and how well you can answer during a stressful situation. These tests are categorized into two stages and you can be qualified for the second round depending on the performance in the first stage.

  • The main objective of the Pilot Aptitude Test is to judge the technical skills of the candidate in the field of aviation.

  • The medical examination is done to ensure good sight of the candidate and also to see if the candidate can bear the mental and the physical stress of being in the air force.

National Defence Academy (NDA)

NDA Exams are conducted yearly once. Unmarried male candidates below 20 years who have cleared their +2 exams in the Physics and Mathematics Stream can attend the exam. 

If you just out of 12th and are 100% sure that your passion lies in serving the nation, then this is your window of opportunity. You can directly apply to the National Defence Academy(NDA). You can start early and be a part of this well reputed and esteemed institution.

The NDA expects to fulfil certain eligibility criteria before applying for the pilot license. National Defence Academy allows you to join immediately after class 10, there is no requirement to wait until you finish your graduation to apply. You can apply for this from the age of 16.5 years and until the age of 19 years.

  • The candidate should have passed class 10 with an aggregate of 50% in Physics, chemistry, and mathematics. They should be a citizen of India. They shouldn’t be married when applying for the course.

  • The selection will happen in three rounds for the acceptance. The first round will be with the SSB inspector who will test the skills in two stages.

  • The first stage will include rounds of visual perception, group discussion, and psychological stability. The candidate will be selected to the second based on the performance in the first stage, and this stage consists of the personal interview.

  • The second round is the Pilot Aptitude Test where the candidate’s knowledge regarding your knowledge of instruments and mental stability. This round can be taken only once and if you fail this round you cannot appear for this round again. The third round consists of the Medical examination, which will be conducted by the DGCA assigned authority.

  • The person in charge will check the medical conditions of the candidate, both mentally and physically. The candidate has to be over 162.5 cms to be considered eligible.

If the candidates get through all these tests successfully they will be trained for 3 years at the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla. They will be posted as Permanent Commission Officer and a pilot at one of the Airforce Stations.

National Cadet Corps (NCC)

Candidates who are part of the NCC Air Wing Senior Divison "C" can try to enter the Air Force through Special Entry through the following methods.If you are a part of National Cadet corps then you can procure the Indian Air Force license you have an advantage. National Cadet Corps is a reputed and recognized military cadet corps which gives students in school and levels to live a life that of a soldier.

  • You need to fulfil certain requirements through your NCC journey to be accepted for approval of the license. You need to be an Airwing Division ‘C’ certificate holder. If you have scored an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ in your certificate you are directly called for an interview by SSB.

  • Apart from holding the Airwing Division ‘C’ certificate, the applicant should have completed graduation in a course that has physics and mathematics as the main subjects, applicants who have done courses like B.E., Mechanical Engineering or B.tech. are also eligible for this course. They should have a minimum of 60% aggregate in all the subjects. The candidates should also follow general guidelines which state that they should be a citizen of India and should be unmarried during the time of application.

  • You can apply from the age of 18 years and the age can be relaxed for 23 years.

  • Similar to the NDA selections, even entry through NCC has three rounds in the selection process.

  • The first round includes an interview with the SSB board which contains two stages. The first stage includes rounds like group discussion and visual perception and the second stage includes rounds like teamwork, psychological tests, and personal interview. You will be selected for the second stage only on the basis of your performance in stage 1.

  • The second round is called the Pilot Aptitude Test, where the candidate’s technical knowledge be put to test.

  • The third round is of the medical examination which will be conducted by the authorities from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

If the candidate gets through all these processes then he will be put to training as a pilot in the Indian Airforce.

Qualifications for Pilot in India

The main qualifications which determine the eligibility for becoming a pilot are:

  • Physical Requirement 
  • Educational Qualification

Physical Requirement to become a Pilot

For becoming a Pilot in the Military certain physical requirements have to be fulfilled.

Physical Requirements for Men - Flying Branch

  • Height and Weight: Minimum height: 162.5 cms with correlated weight, Leg Length: Min – 99 cms. Max – 120 cms. Thigh Length: Max – 64 cms. Sitting Height: Min – 81.5 cms. Max – 96 cms.
  • Vision:
    • Minimum Visual Acuity 6/6 in one eye and 6/9 in other, correctable to 6/6 only for hypermetropia.
    • Manifest Myopia – Nil. (c) LASIK Surgery for correction of vision is admissible in Transport and Helicopter streams of Short Service Commission (Flying Branch) if the following conditions are fulfilled at the time of Air Force medical examination:-
      • LASIK Surgery should not have been carried out before the age of 20 years.
      • The axial length of the eye should not be more than 25.5 mm as measured by OL master.
    • At least twelve months should have lapsed post uncomplicated stable LASIK. No history or evidence of any complication.
    • The post LASIK corneal thickness as measured by a corneal pachymeter should not be less than 450 microns.
    • Individuals with high refractive errors (>6D) prior LASIK are to be excluded. Candidates must not suffer from colour or night blindness.
    • All other medical criteria would be evaluated by the Air Force Medical Authorities whose decision on the fitness would be final.

Physical Requirements for Women - Flying Branch

  • Height and Weight: Minimum height: 162.5 cms with correlated weight, Leg Length: Min – 99 cms. Max – 120 cms. Thigh Length: Max – 64 cms. Sitting Height: Min – 81.5 cms.Max – 96 cms.
  • Vision:
    • Minimum Visual Acuity 6/6 in one eye and 6/9 in other, correctable to 6/6 only for hypermetropia.
    • Manifest Myopia – Nil. (c) LASIK Surgery for correction of vision is admissible in Transport and Helicopter streams of Short Service Commission (Flying Branch) if the following conditions are fulfilled at the time of Air Force medical examination:-
      • LASIK Surgery should not have been carried out before the age of 20 years.
      • The axial length of the eye should not be more than 25.5 mm as measured by OL master.
    • At least twelve months should have lapsed post uncomplicated stable LASIK. No history or evidence of any complication.
    • The post LASIK corneal thickness as measured by a corneal pachymeter should not be less than 450 microns.
    • Individuals with high refractive errors (>6D) prior LASIK are to be excluded. Candidates must not suffer from colour or night blindness.
    • All other medical criteria would be evaluated by the Air Force Medical Authorities whose decision on the fitness would be final.

For becoming a Commercial Pilot certain physical requirements have to be fulfilled as per the regulations of the DGCA. The DGCA recommends similar physical requirements as per the above mentioned physical standards for both men and women. 

Educational Qualifications to become a Pilot

  • The person who is aspiring to be a pilot should have had a Bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering, aircraft operations, aviation or in any other similar field. For the NDA exam, a pass with 50% in Class 10 would suffice.
  • Students from any other course related to Science background can complete their course related to aviation and apply for the job.

  • Having a commercial pilot license is a must.

  • Airline line pilot transformation certificate and instrument rating certification might be asked for.

  • Each person to become a pilot it is necessary to have certain hours of ground training. 250 hours of ground training is necessary to be certified as a pilot.

  • Apart from technical skills and experience to become a pilot you require personal and emotional skills like, decision making, listening skills, good reactive skills, ability to maintain composure during moment stress because as a pilot you will be held responsible for the lives of many other people and it is important that one doesn’t get flustered during such moments. One should deal with the situation with patience and calmness. 

If you are planning to give wings to your dream by taking up the pilot course, then you have to go ahead without having any hindrances. There are many ways and options to fulfil your dream of flying, be courageous enough to explore all the paths that will help you in making your dream a reality.

Colleges for Aviation in India

There are many colleges in India that provide Pilot Training in India. Most of the colleges provide certificate and degrees to students. Most of them have their own entrance test and admission procedures to get through. A few of the colleges might hire even the basis of a public exam. Few reputed aeronautics colleges are:

Indian Institute of Aeronautics, New Delhi

About the college: The Indian Institute of Aeronautics was set up 37 years back in the year 1981, under the guidance of Capt. R N Sinha. Capt. R N Sinha was also the founder/chairman of the Aviators Co-operative. Indian Institute of Aeronautics Group are the pioneers of the Aircraft Maintenance engineering training program. They have produced many efficient and well-trained pilots in the field of aviation. They offer placements in well-reputed airlines like Air India, Honeywell and also in Indian Airforce as well. They also have another institution in the field of aviation at Pune.

Courses offered: Aeronautics Maintenance Engineering is a course that holds an office of high dignity and responsibility. It is a course that is directly under the governance of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Govt. of India.

  • Controlled by the government ensures the strict standards of safety and security is maintained. The AME is a three-year basic course.

  • The institute ensures that one just doesn’t get the theoretical knowledge, but also has the knowledge of the practical usage of the course.

  • The course is spread over 3 years. Two and a half years of the course includes the theoretical knowledge given to the students and the last 6 months of the course focuses on the field work and gaining the experience through flying active planes.

  • The course would cost Rs. 1.71 lac per year. On successful completion of the course, the students will be offered jobs in well-reputed companies like Bell, Honeywell, Air India, and even Indian Air Force. 

Indian Institute Of Aeronautics Engineering and Information, Pune.

About the college: The Indian Institute of Aeronautics Engineering and Information was started 14 years back. It is an institution that has produced pilots who are well equipped with knowledge regarding the profession as well as being efficient. It is an institute that is growing steadily and strongly along with other well-known institutions dedicated to aviation courses.

Courses offered: At Indian Institute of Engineering and Aeronautics, future pilots can choose from various options.

  • The institute offers courses that train the students at becoming a better pilot, as well as ensures that their interests are well protected.

  • The courses offered are B.tech aerospace engineering, Bachelor of Science in aeronautics and Aviation Administration which is done in collaboration with NYSU.

  • They also offer an integrated program which consists of Diploma in Mechanical Engineering and B.tech Aerospace Engineering. The tuition fee for the institution can range from Rs.25,000 to Rs.12.5 lakhs.

Wingsss College of Aviation and Technology, Pune.

About the college: Wingsss College of Aviation and technology was set up in the year 2006 at Warje, Pune. The main objective of the college is to help students build up their skills, help them develop a positive attitude and work in an aviation institution with efficiency and ethics. The college mainly focuses on civil institutions a place of work and not the commercial licenses. The most intriguing fact about WCAT is they train their students in there in-house fully functioning planes, namely- FOKERF 27 MK500-52 seater aircraft, ISKRA, and PUSHPAK.

Courses offered:

  • WCAT is the only aviation academy that is based in Pune to have obtained the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s approval for Heavy Aeroplane (HA), Jet Engine(JE), Electrical System (ES), Instrument System (IS) & Radio Navigation System (RN).

  • They offer various courses like B.Sc. in Aeronautics, B.Sc. in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering(AME). They also help students get commercial licenses and private plane licenses.

  • The courses at Wingsss College of Aviation and technology costs from Rs.6.25 lakhs to Rs. 23 lakhs.

Ahmedabad Aviation and Aeronautics, Ahmedabad

About the college: Ahmedabad Aviation and Aeronautics was established in the year 1994. The colleges on the theory of demand and supply.

  • The institute tries to understand the requirements of the aviation industry and train its students according to the requirements. It is a Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) approved institution. It functions at SV Patel International Airport Ahmedabad and Mehsana Airfield.

  • It has its own hangers with all connected facilities from the Ahmedabad Airport. It owns 5 single-engine aircraft and one multiple engine aircraft.

  • The placements of students are not only restricted to the post of a pilot through commercial pilot license but also provides the students with an opportunity to work in the aviation-based training associations.

  • It is top ranked in the field of aviation institution because of its well-built infrastructure. Apart from the helping students be ready for the job of a pilot, Ahmedabad Aviation Academy offers various other services like aerial photography, radio practice, showering of flower petals and a ride in the aircraft. 

  • They also conduct an aviation awareness program. The institute also allows hobby flying.

Courses offered: The institute’s training program is designed in such a way that it caters to that of the industry and ensures that its students are well versed and well equipped regarding these subjects and topics.

  • They also offer courses that help you avail the commercial pilot licenses and private pilot license. It also arranges an aspirant pilot program which is focused on students who are unable to decide which career path to choose and if they want to learn more about the aviation industry the detailed information will be provided in this course. This can result in a better and more informed choice of career.

  • They also provide an Instructor Rating program which we help those who are looking forward to a career as a flight instructor. For taking place in this program the candidate has to meet all the eligibility criteria decided by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), like having a Commercial Pilot License (CPL) approved by the DGCA, the candidate is also expected to be medically fit according to the DGCA guidelines, if not they won’t be accepted for the program.

  • The institution also helps you with hour building as it is one of the most important criteria before you are considered as a legitimate pilot.

  • The credentials that are checked here are, the candidate should have acquired an approved license for DGCA or any institution that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has recognized and approved.

  • The candidate should also have the class 1 or class 2 medical according to the rules laid down by the DGCA. The courses at the Ahmedabad Aviation Academy can cost from Rs.7lac to Rs.23lac.

Hindustan Aviation Academy, Bangalore

About the college: Hindustan Aviation Academy is under the administration of the Hindustan Group of Institutions. The institution was set up in the year 1983 in Bangalore.

  • Their main motto is to avail quality education to everyone. Their aviation is set up in collaboration with the Centre University of Bangalore. They are approved and recognized by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

  • They also provide syllabus according to European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). They have various tie-ups with many Indian companies as well. Their placement results are impressive.

  • The students of Hindustan Aviation Academy have been placed in companies like Air India, Jet Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates,  Qatar airlines, Etihad, KLM, Indigo and other leading airlines. As they have been recognized and approved by the DGCA they are entitled to a Commercial Pilot License as well.

Courses Offered: Hindustan Aviation Academy has been recognized for the syllabus of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and as well as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), therefore they offer courses made available by both the committees.

  • Under the Directorate General of Civil Aviation guidelines, they offer DGCA CAR 66 CAT A, B1 or B2 Basic AME course. Under the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) they offer Part 66 B1 or B2 which is a 5 years structured training course leading to a top rating on an Airbus 320 or Boeing 737.

  • They also offer EASA part 66 A, B1, B2 3 years basic AME course per European Union Civil Aviation – Commission Regulation (1497/2011). The diploma courses cost Rs. 90,900 and the main courses go up to Rs.3.4lac.

Pilot Salary in India

Some of the highest remunerations are bagged by commercial pilots in the country. The Average Salary of a commercial pilot is Rs.23,72,871. Though the salary of a trainee is less compared to his superior counterparts, a fresh pilot is can start off at around Rs.1.5 Lakh per month in domestic airlines. Salary moves up rapidly as pilots can experience and on an international route in civilian aviation. An experienced international pilot can expect to earn around Rs.5 - 6 Lakhs per month.

Conclusion

The journey of becoming a pilot in India is a dream that wasn't within the grasp of the individuals earlier. But nowadays, this dream has started to live in the hearts of a lot of individuals. As the standard of living of the Indian public is rising along with their spending capacity, the aviation industry has witnessed a boom in the number of passengers. So, to cater to the rise of airline passengers, a need was felt for more number of pilots. Hence, the Ministry of Civil Aviation, India has given a lot of inputs for developing this sector. 

There are many flying schools that are opened throughout the country for the expansion of this sector. The aspirants can opt to become a pilot and obtain the license through Civil Aviation and Indian Air Force. The aspirants can opt to feature in some of the prestigious groups and academies like NCC and NDA to get the license after getting specialized training. The aspirants can also choose some of the programmes like SSC [Short Service Commission] and CDSE [Combined Defence Services Examination] to get the aviation license after proper training.

The competent authority that is responsible for the affiliation of the aviation colleges/ schools in India is the Directorate General of Civil Aviation [DGCA]. This organization is under the Government of India and it undertakes the hiring process of the civil and air force pilots. In a nutshell, the aviation sector is one of the most exciting prospects for employment these days and the interested candidates can surely make use of this opportunity to boost their career.



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