Commercial Pilot – Lucrative Career Option After Class 12

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Introduction :

Commercial Pilot is one of the very attractive and better paid jobs, but simultaneously extremely demanding one. In popular imagery the profession of a pilot has special mystique attached to it. Commercial pilots are employed by national airlines as well as by private airlines and international airlines too. The introduction of low-cost airlines in India has given explosive growth to the sector and hence the demand for commercial pilots. A pilot’s job, glamorous as it may appear, however involves, working odd hours with 200 percent concentration, absorbing complex data that is constantly fed during the flight and taking quick decisions based on the information received.

Job Description :

Normally the pilots’ duties begin an hour or so before the flight. Pre-flight schedules are checked, the specified height, weight and noise level determined and the meteorological data interpreted. The equipment and instruments are inspected for proper functioning, the fuel requirement estimated, loading and refueling supervised, the crew is briefed etc. Throughout the flight, the pilot receives a steady stream of information which needs to be interpreted, all the while maintaining contact with the air traffic control. Pilot also has to occasionally communicate with the passengers to keep them informed about the flight condition. One or two co-pilots may accompany the pilot depending upon the duration of the flight.

Training, Requirements and Licenses :

You should have completed 10+2 with Physics and Mathematics. You can apply for a Student Pilot License (SPL) first and then for Private Pilot License (PPL) or Commercial Pilot License (CPL). These licenses are awarded by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on qualifying the prescribed tests and obtaining the necessary flying experience from the flying club or flying school.

You have to take an entrance exam; the minimum age to join a flying club is 17 years. Private Pilot’s License requires that you have 60 hours of flying experience, including 20 hours of solo flying and 5 cross country.This also requires taking an exam conducted by DGCA consisting of theory papers on air navigation, aviation meteorology, air regulation and technical aspects. The curriculum is designed to give you overall knowledge of the body of the aircraft, principles and rules of flying, air speed and cockpit instrumentation, including know-how about a particular type of aircraft – Piper, Cessna, Pushpak, etc.

You need to take a test of another 5 papers for a CPL after gaining a minimum flying experience of 250 hours, including minimum 150 hours of solo flying, 25 hours of cross country flying, 10 hours of instrument flying and 5 hours of solo night flying.

The training schedule for PPL and CPL is 6 months and 15 months respectively.

The training is extremely expensive due to high cost of aviation fuel. However, various states offer separate subsidies of varying amounts up to the PPL stage. 40 free flying scholarships are awarded to SC/ST trainee pilots every year. Under this scheme, apart from free flying training, student pilots receive financial aid.

While a private school may charge as much as Rs. 15-20 lakhs, the cost of obtaining a CPL in a government-sponsored school works out to Rs. 10 lakhs plus stay and boarding.

There are about 30 state sponsored flying clubs or schools in India of which the most prestigious and best known is the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Udaan Academy at Fursatganj, Rae Bareilly (UP). Apart from the state-sponsored flying academies, there are 11 private flying academies / clubs in the country. The major advantage of private schools is that, most of them are located in small towns, which have fewer flights touching down. As a result, getting clearance from Air Traffic Control (ATC) becomes relatively easy, as compared to the busier large city airports. This in turn makes it possible log the mandatory flying hours sooner. Here is the list of some of the locations of the flying clubs – Amritsar, Chennai, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Nagpur, Patiala, Ambala, Hissar, Delhi, Rae Bareilly, Faizabad, Lucknow, Jaipur, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bangalore, Mysore, Tiruvananthpuram, Pondicherry, Hyderabad, Indore, Bhopal, Bhubneshwar, Patna and Kolkata. However, some may be defunct due to the funds crunch. The list of availability of the facilities at any of the clubs can be checked from official site of DGCA .

Salaries :

Salaries for commercial pilots are very attractive, ranging anywhere from Rs. 40,000 to whopping Rs. 200,000 p.m., besides the obvious thrill of going places and seeing the world in five-star comfort. There are also several attractive perks that go with the job too.

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