How to Become a Pilot in India

A career as a Pilot not only offers high salaries, it also offers thrilling experience and exposure. When you become a pilot, you not only get to soar up in the skies but also in your career and life. Typically, you need to start preparing as early as the age of 17 or 18 (when you are Grade 10/11/12). In this post, Parinita Gupta writes about how to become a pilot – both a Commercial Pilot and an Air Force Pilot.


How to Become a Pilot in India

By Parinita Gupta


We all fancy flying airplanes and jets that fly high. Many of us aspire to tame these aircraft and become a pilot. In fact, the recent Bollywood movie “Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl” and the upcoming movie titled “Tejas” starring Kangana Ranaut also depict the craze of being a pilot.

How to Become a Pilot
Source: Newzz

While the decision to become a pilot is fascinating, the process is long and expensive; but, it is full of adventure. So, how to Become a Pilot in India?

Broadly, there are two routes:

  • Route 1: Civil Aviation (Commercial Pilot)
  • Route 2: Indian Armed Forces (Airforce Pilot)

We will explain the above 2 routes in detail here.


How to Become a Commercial Pilot?


A Commercial Pilot is a pilot who is trained to fly a specific type of aircraft of an airline company and holds a ‘commercial pilot’ license / certificate issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

How to become a Commercial (Aviation) Pilot

While the pay packages are high, it is coupled with a whole lot of responsibility as you will be responsible for hundreds of lives in a single aircraft, taking them from point A to point B as per the directions given by Air Traffic Controller (ATC) in the safest way possible.

Interested? Let’s go for it…

First and foremost, you will need to have Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics in your Higher Secondary Course. Not only that, you will need to score at least 50% in Class 12th to be able to join a flying school.

Follow the steps to this rewarding career:

Step 1: Enroll into a Flying School and pursue ‘B.Sc. in Aviation’

The admission process generally consists of the following:

  1. Written examination – This examination tests your general English, Maths, Physics, and Reasoning. It is based on 10+2 standard.
  2. Pilot Aptitude Test – This test will assess your aptitude on Air Regulation, Air Navigation, Aviation Meteorology, Aircraft and Engine Knowledge.
  3. Personal Interview (and)
  4. DGCA Medical Examination – Those candidates who are successful in the written examination and aptitude test will be required to take a medical assessment, which is conducted by the DGCA, Govt. of India.

Step 2: Obtain a Student Pilot License

To obtain a ‘student pilot license’, you will have to appear for an entrance examination. This consists of an oral test – which will be taken by the Chief Instructor at the flying school or a DGCA representative.

This license will allow you to get flight training and permits you to learn basics of flying, take-off flights on gliders or small planes that are generally provided by approved flying clubs across the country.

By the time you complete your course, you should have completed a minimum of 250 hours of flying. Post this, you can apply for a Commercial Pilot License (CPL).

Some of the leading institutes for this course are:

● Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Academy (IGRUA), Rae Bareilly

● Rajiv Gandhi Academy of Aviation Technology, Thiruvananthapuram

● The Bombay Flying Club, Mumbai

● National Flying Training Institute, Gondia

Note that each institute have their own specific requirements regarding eligibility, physical fitness and eyesight.

Coming to costs, it generally costs more than INR 20 Lacs to become a commercial pilot in India. While a bank loan is possible, there is of course the second and cheaper route of becoming a pilot.


How to Become an Air Force Pilot?


So, flying is your passion?

But becoming a commercial pilot costs too much?

The alternative is the Indian Armed Forces. Here, you not only get pilot training free of cost, but you also get to serve your nation. You can become a class-I officer and get paid handsomely for it, even during your training period.

How to Become an Airforce Pilot
Source: Firstpost

The Indian Armed Forces focus on OLQ’s (Officer Like Quality) while selecting their candidates. There are 15 character traits that a candidate must possess in order to become a successful military officer. So, if you think you have these traits like effective intelligence, reasoning ability, social adaptability, strategy planning, courage, stamina, etc., the Indian Armed Forces can be the right choice for you.

I) How to become a pilot in the Indian Air Force after finishing class 12th?

Join the National Defence Academy (NDA)

The National Defence Academy (NDA) is the joint services academy of the Indian Armed Forces, where cadets of the three services, namely the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force train together before they go on to respective service academy for further pre-commission training. The NDA is located in Khadakwasla, Pune, Maharashtra.

The selected candidates are trained for a period of 3 years and after successful completion of the training, candidates are commissioned as a Permanent Commission Officer and posted as a Pilot at one of the Air Force Base Stations.

NDA Eligibility Criteria:

Right after you finish your class 12th (with physics and mathematics), you can appear for the NDA entrance examination. The minimum age to apply is 16 ½ and the maximum age is 19 years. Also, only male candidates can apply for NDA.

The NDA Admission Procedure consists of the following:

  1. Written Examination – This is based on maths and general ability. Questions are based on elements of Physics, Chemistry, Maths, English, General Knowledge, History, Geography, and Current Events.
  2. SSB Interview – This is the second and final round of the NDA selection process. The SSB Interview round comprises two separate tests – Intelligence test and Psychological Aptitude Test.
  3. Pilot Aptitude Test – You can take this test only once. If you don’t clear it in the first attempt, you will never be eligible to appear for the flying division 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.
  4. Medical examination – Your eyesight, height, weight, and general health will be examined. The minimum height required for an NDA aspirant is 152cms along with correlated weight. Eye vision should be 6/6 in better eye and 6/9 in other, correctable to 6/6 only for Hypermetropia (A vision condition in which nearby objects are blurry.).

II) How to become a pilot in the Indian Air Force after graduation?

1. Combined Defence Services Examination (CDSE) Entry to Indian Air Force:

The selected candidates are sent for training at the Air Force Academy, Hyderabad. Post completion of the training, the commissioned officers are assigned to their flying units.

CDSE Eligibility Criteria:

Only Male graduates with a three-year graduation course in any discipline from a recognized University (with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level) / BE / B Tech (Four Year Course), unmarried, and holding an Indian passport are eligible to apply for CDSE entry. The minimum age to apply is 19 years to 23 years.

CDSE Entrance process consists of the following:

  1. Written examination
  2. SSB Interview(Both Stages)
  3. Pilot Aptitude Test
  4. Medical examination

*Note – While filling up the application form for NDA and CDSE, you need to mention your preference as‘Air Force’.

2. Airforce Common Admission Test (AFCAT) Entry to the Airforce (Short Service Commission – SSC)

Under this entry scheme, candidates cannot serve in the Indian Air Force for more than 14 years. The candidates have to qualify the Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT). The selected candidates are then sent for 74 weeks training course at the Air Force Academy, Dundigal.

Whatever be your entry route, it has now become much easier to become a pilot in India as compared to earlier times. Decide early so as to align your studies and explore the wide career possibilities in the booming aviation industry.


Recommended Articles:


Women in the Indian Armed Forces

Indian Air Force Pilot Exams


Author Bio:

Parinita is a full-time banking professional. Additionally, she is also a passionate blogger and digital marketer.

She mostly writes about the Banking & Finance, Technology, and FinTech sector. But, she also enjoys writing on other topics as well.  You can follow her on Twitter.



References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.


  1. This is very helpful , but could you just tell me what I should majorly do in order to achieve it !( I’m in 10 th standard now )

    • Take science as your subject and try to stay away from phones and screens as they will damagw your eyesight then your will not be able to become a fighter pilot through nda but if you are like me who already have a weak eyesight then you can do through lasik surgery (after 20 years of age) get your eyesight right and then graduate and then apply.

  2. I have got a Spectacle Myopia -1.75 number I am eligible to join the Indian Airforce in a flying Branch

  3. Hey, I came across your article it was so informative. I would like to share a worthy article about the Study in Germany from KCR consultants, this may change your career pathway in Germany.

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