How to become a pilot in India?

All of us at some point in our lives have looked at an airplane and wondered how it felt to fly a 40-ton beast in the vast sky. ‘What if I were the one flying a plane?’ ‘Could I ever fly a plane? ’It takes just a moment for many of us to shrug off the feeling and carry on with our lives while a select few hold on to that dream and eventually go on to live it.

If you belong to the latter group, we will provide a comprehensive guide on HOW to become a pilot in India and also WHY you should become a pilot.

Table of Contents:

1. Step-by-step guide to becoming a Pilot in India

  • Commercial Pilot
  • Military Pilot

2. ‘Why’ should you become a pilot?

  • Skills required to be a pilot
  • Subjects needed to be studied

3. Best Pilot Schools in India and their course fee

4. How is life as a Pilot? Is it really how you imagine it to be?

  • Pros and Cons
  • Daily life of a Pilot

5. Make your final decision

1. Step-by-step process to becoming a Pilot in India

  • Commercial Pilot

A commercial pilot is someone who flies airplanes or helicopters for commercial purposes, say flying a Boeing or Airbus for world-renowned airlines like Qatar Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Air India, etc.

Step 1: You need to clear 10+2 with PCM as your subjects and score a minimum of 50% marks.

Step 2: Check if you are medically fit to be a pilot. You require a class I medical certificate for a Commercial Pilot License.

Step 3: Commercial Pilot Training (CPT) program after 12th from a reputed institute approved by DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) like Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Udan Academy. The selection procedure for most pilot training institutes has 3 rounds-

  • A written entrance exam at various centers all over India. The exam is for 2 hours and subjects like General English, Maths, Physics, and Reasoning are tested.
  • Pilot Aptitude Test
  • Interview by an Interview Board

Step 4: Complete the requisite flying hours. i.e., 200 hours for a commercial pilot’s license.

Step 5: Pass the DGCA exam with at least 70% to obtain the CPL (Commercial Pilot License).

Step 6: Get the type rating for the aircraft you want to fly. A type rating is a licensing agency’s certification of an airplane pilot to fly a certain aircraft type that requires additional training beyond the scope of the initial license and aircraft class training.

Step 7: Start applying for airlines.

  • Military Pilot:

To make a career as a Pilot in the defense courses, you can check out the section under the heading ‘How to become a pilot in the Indian Air Force’.

2. ‘Why’ should you become a pilot?

Becoming a pilot is not something you decide to pursue just on a whim. The entire process will cost you upwards of half a crore. Also, a pilot has the responsibility of the lives of hundreds of people every time he or she flies a plane. This decision needs to be well thought through.

Do you have the skills required to be a pilot? Are you even aware of what subjects you need to study to become a pilot? Do they even interest you? It is a well-paid profession undoubtedly, but do you have the slightest idea about the challenges you can face?

If you don’t want to end up wasting lakhs in the course fee and regretting your decision later in life, you need to look at the other side of the coin, i.e., ’WHY’ should you become a pilot? At LifePage, we focus more on the ‘Why’ and less on the ‘How’. There are tons of resources available online on how to become a pilot but none at all on ‘Why’

Make sure you have some of the basic skills required to be a pilot:

  • Multitasking
  • Situational Awareness
  • Physical and Mental Agility 
  • Time Management  
  • Crew Resource Management  
  • Motor Skills  
  • Communication  
  • Leadership
  • Quick response

Some of these skills you might have already, while the rest will you will have to cultivate.

The following are some of the subjects which you would need to study in flying school:

  • Maths and Physics
  • Navigation
  • Radio Aids and Electronics
  • Meteorology  
  • Airline Rules and Regulations 
  • Aerodynamics and Aero Engines
  • Aircraft Specific Technical

Flying school isn’t a cakewalk, so you need to have a natural inclination towards these subjects otherwise things might get tough for you.

For more in-depth analysis on whether a Career as a pilot is the right fit for you, you should listen to only someone who has practical experience in the field. You can watch this Career Talk by Captain Anny Divya, who has been flying for more than 15 years, and the full version of this Talk on our free app.

Apart from the Skills and Subjects, you should also have an idea about the positives and negatives of being a pilot and how life is as a pilot, which we’ll talk about in the upcoming segment.

3. Best Pilot Schools in India and their course fee

  • Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi (IGRUA), Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh- 45L + 2L additional expenditure for books, uniform, etc.
  • National Flying Training Institute (NFTI) or CAE, Gondia, Maharashtra- 34.6L
  • Chimes aviation, Madhya Pradesh- 37.75
  • Madhya Pradesh Flying Club (MPFC), Indore – 8.5L per annum
  • Bombay Flying Club, Mumbai – 41L

Note: Additionally, you will have to pay for the type rating for the aircraft you want to fly. This can cost anywhere between 25-30L.

Now, from the above, it is evident that becoming a pilot is an expensive affair. So shouldn’t you be completely sure that you want to become a pilot before making such a heavy investment?

But how will you get that surety? Don’t worry, the next section will clear your doubts.

4. How is life as a Pilot? Is it really how you imagine it to be?

  • Pros and cons of this profession

Life can be exciting but stressful at the same time. Here are some of the positives and negatives of this profession according to Commercial Pilot Captain Anny Divya and Wing Commander Devendra Sachan respectively.

Commercial Flying   Military Flying  
Never Monotonous 
Good Perks
Well Respected 
Long working hours
Cultural Challenges
Continuous Assessments and Studies
High Initial Training Cost
Less Family Time  
Positives:   Early SettlementIdentity as an OfficerGood RemunerationGlamorous LifestyleSecured Future   Negatives:   Strict HierarchyRestriction of SpeechTransfersStrict Working HoursMedical Fitness
  • Daily Life of a Pilot

The daily schedule of a pilot is quite demanding. If they have a 7 am flight, they need to wake up at 3 am to fulfill the pre-flight requirements. Some transcontinental flights might take 8+ hours which can be tiring. Sometimes, on crossing several time zones, the time difference causes jet lag which might be tricky to handle. They need to rest and eat well and try to align themselves with the new timings.

When pilots are on call, they need to wake up on time, go to the dispatch, file paperwork, complete the flight and rest at hotels. Military pilots on the other hand, after completing their flight, spend some time in the office doing administrative work.

However, on their days off, pilots have all the time to travel and explore various cities around the world. They might be away from their families for extended periods, but they can make up for the lost time by taking their families on trips on complimentary flight tickets provided by their employers.

5. Make your final decision

So, do you have what it takes? If you’re still not sure, feel free to contact us and we’ll use our expertise to help you figure out if being a Pilot is the right fit for you and how you should go about it through the LifePage Career Plan.

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