How to become a Pilot in India

Posted on August 1, 2021

Get Ready to Fly! How to Become a Pilot in India

Are you able to recognise the name of a flying aeroplane from its tail? As a kid did you run to the window to wave at an aeroplane? Do sounds of an aeroplane excite you? Did you buy remote control aircrafts during your childhood? Did you visit Airforce Museum and play flight stimulator games on your computer? If yes, then you have a true instinct of becoming a pilot in the future. The sky is full of opportunities and dreams for pilots. Therefore, there is a famous saying by Jerry Crawford, “To most people, the sky is the limit, to those who love aviation, the sky is the home”. So, if you are determined to pursue a career in aviation, we are here to guide you.

There are 2 ways you can become a successful pilot in India: –

  1. Commercial Pilot                        
  2. Airforce Pilot

Commercial Pilot

Commercial or professional pilots fly and navigate airplanes, helicopters, and other types of aircraft. Airline pilots work for specific companies, transporting people and cargo on fixed schedules, while commercial pilots work for companies that offer charter flights, rescue operations, or aerial photography.

Age Limit & Duration

1. You must be 16 years of age to be eligible for Student Pilot licence (SPL), and course duration is 6 months.

2. You must be 17 years of age to be eligible for Private Pilot licence (PPL), and the course duration is 1 year.

3. You must be 18 years of age to qualify for Commercial pilot licence (CPL), and course duration is 3 years.

4. DGCA (Director General of Civil Aviation) is the authority that gives the Commercial pilot licence (CPL).

Best Flying schools in India

  • School of Aviation and Technology, Delhi Flying Club Ltd, New Delhi
  • Rajasthan State Flying School, Sanganer Airport, Jaipur.
  • Karnal Aviation Club, Kunjpura Road, Karnal, Haryana
  • Bihar Flying Institute, Civil Aerodrome, Patna, Bihar
  • Andhra Pradesh Flying Club, Hyderabad Airport, Hyderabad.  
  • Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi, Uttar Pradesh
  • Government Flying Training School, Jakkur Aerodrome, Bangalore
  • Government Aviation Training Institute, Civil Aerodrome, Bhubaneshwar
  • Government flying club, Aerodrome, Lucknow
  • Orient Flying School , Chennai
  • State Civil Aviation, UP Government Flying Center Kanpur & Varanasi
  • Flying Training Institute, Behala, Calcutta
  • Madhya Pradesh Flying Club
  • Assam Flying Club, Guwahati Airport, Guwahati.
  • Nagpur Flying Club, Nagpur

Indian Airforce

“Who kept the faith and fought the fight, the glory theirs, the duty ours”. The Indian Air Force is the air arm of the Indian Armed Forces. Its complement of personnel and aircraft assets ranks fourth amongst the air forces of the world. Its primary mission is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during armed conflict. A career in Indian Air Force is not only an exciting one but also a blend of national service with lucrative salary structure.

How to become an Indian Airforce Pilot (IAF)?

1. NDA (National Defence Academy)

NDA is an esteemed organization to join the flying space. It is situated in Khadakwasla at Pune, Maharashtra. NDAs motto is “Service Before Self“. This is taught first to the cadets before anything else. A cadet must undergo a training of 6 terms, i.e. 3years before graduating from NDA. On completing the graduation, the candidates are commissioned as pilots in one of the Air force stations.

  • Age limit and Eligibility Criteria:
  1. Only male candidates can apply for NDA
  2. Minimum age should be 16 and a half years, and maximum age should be 19 and a half years.
  3. Students who have completed 10th + 12th with Physics and Maths can apply for NDA.
  • NDA Selection Process

STEP 1: Written ExaminationNDA selects candidates through a written exam which consists of English, physics, chemistry, maths, general aptitude, history, geography and current affairs set by the UPSC board. NDA exam is held twice (NDA exam 1 and NDA exam 2) every year in April and Nov. You will able to access the application form for NDA exam (1) from January tentatively.

STEP 2: SSB (Services Selection Board) interview – If you clear the NDA exam, you are going to be invited for the SSB interview which consists of 2 rounds:

Round 1 – Officer Intelligence Rating Test and a Picture perception and discussion test.

Round 2 – Only if you clear the first stage, you are qualified for the next stage. This stage comprises of psychological tests conducted by a psychologist, group tasks, and a personal interview.

STEP 3: Pilot Aptitude Test- This is a one-shot examination. If you don’t clear this in the first attempt, 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.

STEP 4: Medical ExaminationIf you successfully clear the aptitude test, you will be required to undergo a medical examination wherein your eyesight, height and weight will be examined. The minimum height required for an NDA aspirant is 152cms with correlated weight. Eye Vision Should be 6/6 in one eye and 6/9 in other, correctable to 6/6 only for Hypermetropia.

2. CDSE (Combined Defence Service Examination)

CDSE is conducted twice a year by the UPSC. Online applications are available. Candidates will get a permanent commission through this mode of entry.

  • Age limit and Eligibility Criteria:
  1. 19-24 years only male graduates (unmarried) at the time of applying.
  2. Engineering candidates can also apply for CDSE exam. Also, you will have to mention the preference of your wing, that is Air Force while applying for both NDA and CDSE.
  • CDSE Selection Process:-

You have to clear the following stages:-

STEP 1: Written Test- Candidates are evaluated on the basis of verbal ability, numerical ability, reasoning, general awareness, and military aptitude.

STEP 2: SSB (Services Selection Board) interview which consists of 2 rounds: –

   Round 1 – Officer Intelligence Rating Test and a Picture perception and discussion test.

   Round 2 – Only if you clear the first stage, you are qualified for the next stage. This stage comprises of psychological tests conducted by a psychologist, group tasks, and a personal interview.

STEP 3: Final Selection- The candidates will be placed in the order of merit on the basis of the total marks secured by them in the written examination and in the SSB tests. The final selection will be made in order of merit subject to medical fitness and the number of available vacancies.

3. NCC (National Cadet Corps) Special Entry

 As an Air Wing Senior Division C Certificate holder of the National Cadet Corps, candidates can apply to the Flying Branch of the Indian Air Force. Men and women can join the Air Force through this mode of entry. Application forms are available online to fill & submit.

  • Age limit and Eligibility criteria
  1. Age limit for NCC special entry is 19-23 years.
  2. Graduation with a minimum three years degree course (with physics and maths at 10+2 level) in any discipline from a recognized University with a minimum of 60% marks or equivalent. BE/B Tech degree (Four years course) from a recognised University with a minimum of 60% marks or equivalent.
  3. Also, you should hold NCC Air Wing Senior Division ’C’ certificate to be eligible for this entry. Only Male candidates can apply for NCC entry
  • NCC Selection Process: –

You have to clear the following stages: –

STEP 1: SSB (Services Selection Board) interview It consists of 2 rounds:

Round 1 – Officer Intelligence Rating Test and a Picture perception and discussion test.

Round 2 – Only if you clear the first stage, you are qualified for the next stage. This stage comprises of psychological tests conducted by a psychologist, group tasks, and a personal interview.

STEP 2: Pilot Aptitude Test– You can opt for this test only once. If you don’t clear this in the first attempt, 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.

STEP 3: Medical ExaminationIf you successfully clear the aptitude test, you will be required to undergo a Medical Examination wherein your eyesight, height and weight will be examined. The minimum height required for an NDA aspirant is 152cms with correlated weight. Eye Vision Should be 6/6 in one eye and 6/9 in other, correctable to 6/6 only for Hypermetropia.

4. AFCAT (Airforce Common Admission Test)

It is an entrance test conducted with the help of C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) for candidates who are willing to join IAF as commissioned officers in flying, ground duty (technical and non-technical).

  • Age limit and Eligibility Criteria:
  1. For AFCAT, age limit is 19-23 years. The upper limit of candidates who are holding CPL (commercial pilot licence) issued by DGCA is relaxed to 25 years.
  2. Graduation with a minimum three years degree course (with physics and maths at 10+2 level) in any discipline from a recognized University with a minimum of 60% marks or equivalent. BE/B Tech degree (Four years course) from a recognised University with a minimum of 60% marks or equivalent.
  • AFCAT Selection Process:

STEP 1: Written Examination– Candidates are evaluated on the basis of verbal ability, numerical ability, reasoning, general awareness, and military aptitude.

STEP 2: 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 qualify for stage 2. This comprises of psychological tests conducted by a psychologist, group tasks, and a personal interview.

STEP 3: 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.

STEP 4: Medical Examination  The minimum height required for males is 162.5 cms with correlated weight, and for women is 148cms with correlated weight. Eye Vision Should be 6/6 in one eye and 6/9 in other, correctable to 6/6 only for Hypermetropia.

To summarise the above, I would like to add that, if you want to become a successful pilot, you need to enhance your communication skills, leadership skills, also work well as a part of team and act with calm attitude as it’s a role of great responsibility. We wish you all the best for your future. Keep flying and shining!

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