Career as a Pilot
A career as a pilot is exciting and rewarding. Airline pilots are highly trained, skilled professionals who can qualify to fly many kinds of aircraft and helicopters. The skills demanded of a professional pilot include not only the ability to control the aircraft physically but also to make the right decisions in complex situations where time is a critical factor. The pilot keeps in mind the safety of the aircraft, the comfort of the passengers and crew and the airline’s schedule and efficiency. Flying does not require much physical effort but the mental stress of being responsible for a safe flight of an aircraft full of passengers in all kinds of weather can be taxing.
Before take-off the pilot must prepare a flight plan, study the weather, make sure that the aircraft is airworthy, check that the cargo and fuel are safely loaded and work out estimated arrival times. Little time is spent actually flying the aeroplane manually. Most of the time, the pilot is carefully monitoring sophisticated computer-controlled automatic flying, navigational and communications systems. Pilots keep in touch with air traffic control and must be prepared to deal with sudden changes in weather and other conditions. Hours of work are irregular but their actual flying time is strictly controlled.
Most pilots work with commercial airlines but there are also some who work for organisations and corporations that have their own aircraft for ferrying personnel from one office location to another and for flying cargo planes and aircraft for overnight delivery services.
Helicopter pilots are used in police work, in supplying offshore oil platforms etc. The Indian Coast Guard, and the armed forces also train or recruit qualified pilots.
Pilots need to be physically fit, possess good eyesight and colour vision, be mentally and physically alert, wellbalanced and ready to respond to quickly changing situations. They must be unflappable, confident, selfassured leaders with considerable technical skill.
The foundation for training as a commercial pilot is 10+2/equivalent with physics and mathematics. The minimum age is 17 years. One must also meet the medical standards set by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The cost of pilot training (Commercial Pilot Licence) would be approximately Rs25 lakhs. It involves 200 hours of training in flying and theoretical examinations by the DGCA. Training to be a pilot at flying schools abroad is popular since there are more number of schools and the mandatory flying hours can be accomplished sooner, thus making the duration of training shorter whereas, it could take around 15-18 months in India. However, one should verify that the flying school is approved by the civil aviation authority in that country. Candidates must have passed class XII
with physics and maths and be not less than 17 years of age to start Commercial Helicopter Pilot Licence training. They should be medically fit class II status as certified by a DGCA empanelled doctor or medical establishment for issue of Student Pilot’s Licence prior to commencement of the flying training. Private Helicopter Pilot Licence training can commence after clearing class X
and 16½ years of age. University of Mumbai offers BSc Aviation through different colleges which offer CPL training.
Admission to IGRUA is based on an all-India written test, Pilot Aptitude Test (WOMBAT) and an interview. The written test is one paper of two hours duration that tests general English, maths, physics and reasoning. Knowledge of physics, maths and English upto 10+2 standard is required along with general awareness of current affairs and normal reasoning. Class I medical certificate is required before joining the course (list of authorised Class I medical examination centres is available at
- Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi (IGRUA), Raebareli (UP) (www.igrua.gov.in)
- Orient Flight School Chennai (www.orientflights.com) with operations at Puducherry Thakur College of Aviation, Shaymnarayan Thakur Marg, Thakur Village, Samata Nagar, Kandivli (E), Mumbai;
- Institute Of Aviation And Aviation Safety (IAAS), Mumbai;
- BSc Aviation Science (University of Mumbai) and CPL (www.mu.ac.in/colleges/INSTIT UTE %20OF%20AVIATION.pdf)
- Rajiv Gandhi National Flight Training Institute.