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Commercial Pilot

Airports are a beehive of activity and it’s not just bawling babies and harried passengers. You’ve got ground attendants, engineers, baggage handlers, flight pursers, pilots, cabin crew, stewards, ticket agents, behind-the-scene air traffic controllers… yup, the employment opportunities in the aviation industry are tremendous.

Most openings don’t require well honed skills, however the jobs that do require specialization are extremely demanding (and extremely well-paying). Thanks to books like ‘Coffee Tea or Me’ (and about a billion movies) – the ‘captain’ invariably gets the pretty ladies, lazes around poolside of posh hotels, sneaks in duty free stuff and has a whale of a time. Impressionable dopes fall for the glam appeal and rush to log on flying hours.

Well, hold your horses, because all this is just the trappings, the real goods is far from pretty – the long hours, the sudden calls in the middle of the night, freakish weather, turbulence, hijackers – hey, you need nerves of steel, lightning reflexes and the patience of a saint to deal with all this. And remember there is no room for error…you have gotta be 100% perfect or you have the blood of your passengers on your hands. After that bit of melodrama, the most important thing remains, be prepared to dish out money…pots and pots of it. To acquire a CPL you need to shell out loot to the tune of Rs.10 lakhs!!!! Still interested? You don’t give up, do ya?? Ok, read on….

Gettin’ In
In order to become a pilot, you have to first obtain a Student’s Pilot License (SPL) . To enroll in a flying school u’ll have to give either an interview or an exam on the type of aircraft you wish to fly. Clear this and you are the proud holder of a SPL. After toting in the requisite amount of flying hours and appearing for an exam you get your Private Pilot’s License (PPL), followed by the Commercial Pilot’s License (CPL).

The Money Factor
Pilots who fly jet aircraft earn higher salaries than turbo-prop pilots. Apart from flying for an airline, pilots can also opt for jobs like charter or corporate pilot. Pilots who work for major airlines rake in moolah (the cost varies…it depends on the company, one’s experience and the flying hours logged).

You will not only have to clear an exacting medical examination at the time of entry but also every 6-12 months throughout your career. Also not all CPL holders get immediate placements. Ex-Indian Air Force pilots and people with experience are infinitely preferred. Wannabe pilots find the going tough because they have to keep getting their license updated (costs u anywhere from Rs.5,000 to Rs.10,000 each year) besides going for those medical check-ups.

License to Fly
Private Pilot License

You can join a flying club right after your Class Xth (and having attained 16 years of age). Most flying clubs conduct an oral entrance exam and if you clear it you are granted your Student’s Pilot License (SPL). You have to clock at least 60 hours of flying, clear theoretical exams like Air Regulation and Air Navigation and get a clean bill of health, before you are qualified for a PPL.

INSTITUTES: There are about 29 flying clubs or schools in India -most are recognized. That is not the case with flying clubs outside the country -some may be blacklisted.
Websites listing clubs approved by DGCA: http://dgca.nic.in/flyclub/flyclub.htm and http://civilaviation.nic.in

COST: Private flying club are much more expensive – one hour of flying can set you back by nearly Rs.3,500-4,000. Government-aided flying clubs are cheaper, charging about Rs.1,000 – 2,000 per hour. (Different planes have different rates). Government flying clubs may charge less but it takes longer to complete your flying hours because they usually have only a couple of aircrafts that are in a decent condition.

Commercial Pilot License
After getting the PPL, you have to clock an additional 190 hours of flying training. Only 10+2 (Physics, Math’s) candidates with a total of 250 hours of flying are eligible to apply for the CPL. The exams are conducted (bimonthly) by the DGCA.. CPL holders join as trainee pilots or co-pilots. They receive several weeks of training in simulators and classrooms before being assigned to a flight. A pilot with an additional 500 hours flying experience is considered a senior, while on completing a total of 1500 hours of flying he/ she becomes eligible for the Air Transport Pilot’s License or ATPL (this means the pilot can now take independent command of the most sophisticated commercial aircraft around).

INSTITUTES: Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi (IGRUA) at Raebareli (UP) offers Commercial Pilot’s License (CPL) course. The selection is through an entrance exam and an interview. Keep your eyes peeled for ads in Employment News etc (around March-April). Independent candidates (from other institutes) can also appear for the DGCA exam.

COST: About Rs.5 lakhs. (Air India and The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation offer scholarships to deserving candidates at IGRAU). There are other institutes and you can get the required information by contacting the Director General of Civil Aviation (Address given below). Save up at least Rs.8 lakhs – Rs.10 lakhs if you are applying elsewhere.

For more info contact:
Director General of Civil Aviation (Training Section)
Technical Centre,
Opposite Safdarjung Airport,
New Delhi – 3
Official site: http://dgca.nic.in

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