Since medieval times, we have been enchanted by the sky and have always fantasized to touch it. Even today, the most mysterious thing for human beings is how things in the space and galaxy really are and how do things work high up there.
It was this just because of this urge that the Wright Brothers went on to create the first ever aeroplane.
The burning desire and the never-ending curiosity that humans have for aviation, has forced us to create and discover many revolutionary ideas that have and are changing the course of aviation for the good.
Among all these far-reaching developments a new career that popped up was of a Pilot, a person who would fly the planes that were being developed. Who knew that this career would become one of the highest paid jobs in the world within just 10 years of its establishment as a career?
Piloting a plane has now become one of the most sought out and respected profession and is reaping huge benefits.
Many students dream of becoming a pilot but unenlightened of the process, drop their passion midway and pursue another career whose boundaries are very well defined.
What if we could assist you and lend you a step by step guide on how to become a pilot?
But before we dive into it, we must address the question people ask the most i.e.
Qualifications to Become a Pilot
The minimum qualifications to become a pilot is scoring at least 55% aggregate marks in 10+2 in Science Stream (Physics, Chemistry and Maths)
If you are a non-science student then you can study these subjects by enrolling in a course conducted by NIOS (National Institute of Open Sciences).
As mentioned above the minimum qualifications to join a flying school, after joining a flying school one has to sail through many medical and physical tests to become eligible for the post of a pilot.
The main subjects to study to become a pilot are high school level science (physics and chemistry) and maths.
Another question that most of the students have is:
How to become a pilot after graduation?
Well, as mentioned earlier having studied 10+2 level science is the minimum requirement to be eligible to attend any flying school, so a grad level degree on top of that (if you were a science student) won’t change the path you’d have to follow to become a pilot.
But, if you were not a science student in your school years, then you’d have to write an exam conducted by the NIOS to become eligible for the later courses that the flying schools have to offer.
Now that your aircraft has taken off, let’s kick off with the guide.
Commercial Pilot or an Army Pilot?
Many people who have a zeal for flying and really adore this job, are very reluctant to join this profession in the beginning just because of the cloud of scepticism that surrounds the curriculum of the aviation course.
But if one tries to look closely, the aviation course is very nicely built and structured, so that only people with the suitable mindset and character are able to pursue it.
Let’s try and decrypt the aviation course curriculum and look for the fine details.
Firstly, pilots can be broadly divided into two categories namely- Commercial and Army.
- Commercial Pilots
Commercial pilots are the ones who fly people to different destinations on a daily basis using some specific aircraft.
Commercial pilots hold the Commercial Pilot License (CPL) issued by various authorities throughout the world.
So, how to become a commercial pilot?
To become a commercial pilot, one has to complete his/her flying training at a flying school that is certified by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Flying schools generally conduct an entrance examination to select the required number of candidates.
Aspirants who clear this entrance exam are then scrutinized through a physical and medical exam. After which the final candidates are hand-picked.
At the training school, students get in flight training as well as theoretical lectures.
By the time you leave the flying school, you’d have earned sufficient flying hours, so you can apply for the Commercial Pilot License as soon as you leave the flying school and test your hands at the craft you have been mastering since ages.
- Army Pilots
Army pilots are the heroes who protect our nation from any danger in the sky.
They serve the Indian Air Forces and fly one the most technologically advanced aircraft in the world.
Army Pilots are trained by the government and are also paid a stipend during their training. So, if you want to be a pilot but you don’t have sufficient funds for the training you can think of joining the IAF as they still make the best pilots.
How to become a pilot in the Air Force?
The Indian Defence Forces have one of the most rigorous, competitive and highly efficient recruitment processes. They test the candidates on various grounds again and again on various levels before handing him/her over a prestigious position in the army.
There are many routes via which you can join the Indian Armed Forces.
Route 1: Clearing the NDA exam
The first opportunity that the defence forces throw at you is just after class 12.
The National Defence Academy (NDA) is tri-service academy where recruits of all the three branches train together before they join their respective service stations.
After clearing the written examination and the SSB interview, which is considered to be one of the most versatile interviews, you are eligible to train under the Air Force Training Team (AFTT).
Route 2: Clearing the CDSE
Combined Defence Services Examinations (CDSE) is for people who wish to join the Air Force after graduation. The selected candidates are trained at the Air Force Academy, Hyderabad.
CDSE has written exam first followed by the SSB interview. The candidates are examined and checked for various Officer Like Qualities.
Only the best and most clinical aspirants are selected for a place in the Indian Air Force.
Route 3: AFCAT
Interested candidates can also write the Air Force Common Admission Test if they wish to join the IAF only for a stipulated period of time.
One can only serve for 14 years under this entry scheme.
The selected candidates are trained at the Air Force Academy stationed at Dundigal.
Route 4: NCC
If you were an NCC volunteer during your college or school years and have an Air Wing ‘C’ division certificate in your pocket, then you can directly for the SSB interview provided you have a grade better than or equal to ‘B’ on the Air Wing ‘C’ certificate.
All these routes also require you to attempt and pass a pilot aptitude test (formally known as the Pilot Aptitude Battery Test), you can only write this test once in your lifetime. If you are not able to clear this exam, you cannot ever apply for the position of a pilot in the Indian Air Forces.
It is important you mentally decide what sub-profession you want to choose as a pilot; do you want to be a pilot who serves the nation or a prime-time pilot who carries thousands of people every day? The decision is totally up to you but it is important to decide it beforehand so that you can easily steer your boat afterwards.
Pilot Training Timeline & Money Required
The timeline of pilot training is divided into many segments which are almost intertwined.
After joining a flying school, you pursue a 3-year state of the art B. Sc in Aviation where you learn about aviation and aircraft in detail and also get to apply it then and there, in the in-flight training hours.
You are tested regularly with quizzes and assignments all throughout the course.
You must have at least 250 hours of flight hours, to be eligible for a commercial pilot license.
You earn these 250 flight hours while you are at the flying school itself.
During your training, you can also become a part of the flying cadet program. These programs are carried out by airline companies in cooperation with an aviation school to train and hire new pilots and airline staff.
Joining these flying cadet programs can ease the burden of finding an airline to work for.
After joining an airline, you need to spend another year or two as a trainee or a first officer to understand the machinery and the aircraft that particular airline uses.
So, in all, it requires at least 4-5 good years of practice, commitment and hard work to get your hot seat in the cockpit as a flight captain.
How much does it cost to become a pilot?
Well, the cost incurred in becoming a pilot in India is a lethal uppercut to the pocket.
It costs around 45-60 lakhs to become a pilot in India and this cost can go as high as 75 lakhs if you opt for a cadet program.
The lump sum break up is 30-40 lakhs to obtain the commercial pilot license and 15-20 lakhs for the Type Rating.
And what is Type Rating?
Type Rating is the training or mentoring you get beyond the rudimentary flying school training. This training certifies that you are eligible to fly a particular aircraft.
Generally, the fees to be paid for Type Rating increases if the aircraft you want to train on is bigger and technically superior.
So, the money involved is a huge speed bump on your road to becoming a pilot.
But just like big investments pay whopping dividends later, similarly if you become a flourishing pilot then the fees which appears to be gigantic now, would appear to be just a tiny yet cardinal investment in your life and education.
What about the possibilities that will open up when I become a flight captain?
How much do pilots earn?
What is the scope of pilots in India?
All these and many more sound questions rattle through people’s mind when they think of becoming a pilot.
Well, the possibilities that open up after you get that pilot badge are innumerable. There will be a completely different world waiting to welcome you with open arms after you become a pilot.
With tourism becoming one of the biggest contributors to the GDP of every country, the pilots are getting paid more and more and are getting the required recognition as a contributor to the economy.
This is the best time to be a pilot, according to PayScale the average commercial pilot salary in India is as high as Rs. 2.3 crores per annum. Those are some astronomical values!
You get to travel the world, experience different cultures, talk to new people as a part of your job and the best part is you get paid for all this.
“Don’t be scared to fly, find a path that is your own”
If your path is to become a pilot and you really love flying, then get out, struggle and make that dream come true. Give wings to your dreams and let them soar high. Don’t let this dream remain merely a dream. Work on it, day in and out and make it a reality.
It’s true that extraordinary dedication, rigorous practice is required to become a pilot, but remember it’s the extreme pressure and temperature that converts charcoal into a diamond.
So now as you are loaded with wisdom and knowledge about how and why you should become a pilot, make this wisdom ride your mind and let your efforts drive you to achieve your goals.