How to Become a Commercial Airline Pilot in India


The career of a commercial airline pilot in India is extremely rewarding with the domestic airlines offering a salary of almost 100,000 rupees each month and the international airlines offering higher pay. Moreover, this career offers you the advantage of beginning to train at age 17. Within one to two years, you can acquire the license and start working as a trainee, becoming a captain by the time you are 25.

Things You'll Need

  • 10+2 pass certificate (with Math and Physics). This qualification is equivalent to the high school diploma in United States.
  • Up to Rs 20,00,000, about $42,000 USD.

Become a Pilot

  • You should have passed 10+2 with at least 50% marks in math and physics. Passing 10+2 in India is equal to passing the 12th grade in high school in the United States. Studying maths and physics is mandatory. You have to be a minimum of 18 years of age on the date the license is issued.

  • Visit the website of the DGCA or the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to find a flying club that is approved by the DGCA. The DGCA is the statutory authority overlooking aviation matters like personnel licensing and airworthiness in India.

  • It is better to clear the medical tests at prescribed medical centers. Physical fitness and prescribed vision standards have to be met. An entrance test has to be cleared before training to acquire a private pilot license (PPL). Thereafter, 60 hours of flying training should be completed and then a license must be secured by clearing four theory exams. This phase will cost you Rs. 200,000 to 500,000.

  • Once you have a PPL, you should complete 250 hours of flying training at the flying club. Before the lapse of three years after your flying experience, you must again get a medical clearance from prescribed medical centers and appear for the exams on air regulations, aviation meteorology, technical planning and air navigation. They are held six times each year to obtain a commercial airline pilot license (CPL). This phase will cost you Rs 800,000 to 15, 00,000. You can then work as a trainee co-pilot for six to eight months with any airlines and thereafter as co-pilot.

  • U.S. commercial airline pilots can become Indian commercial airline pilots by converting the foreign license into an Indian CPL. For this you have to submit an application and documents to the DGCA. Before application submission, applicants have to pass general flying, instrument rating and signal-reception tests from an approved flying club in India, if not done in the United States within six months before submitting the application. They also have to pass two DGCA exams within 30 months before submission of the application. They also have to procure an Indian flight radio telephony operator license if they don't have it already and a verification certificate of their high school diploma certificate.

Tips & Warnings

  • Indians also can train abroad and obtain a foreign commercial pilot license. In that case, you have to convert it into an Indian license from the DGCA by clearing flying checks and exams in two subjects held by the DGCA.
  • Since the process of training to become a commercial airline pilot in India is expensive, first ensure that you have aptitude, numerical skills and good communication skills. Familiarizing with the duties of a pilot before enrolling in a flying club is a good way to assess if this is the right career investment for you. You can also train abroad and obtain a foreign commercial pilot license. In that case, you have to convert it into an Indian license from the DGCA by clearing flying checks and two DGCA exams.

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