Becoming a pilot is a dream come true ambition for many students due to the difficulties in becoming an aviator. India is a country where there are a lot of flying schools there churning out a few hundred pilots every year, though the production of pilots is not sufficient to meet global needs. Pilot training in India is worthy enough that Indian pilots pass exams of other countries very easily when they go for a license conversion. Moreover, directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) in India is prominently strong to impose and execute necessary changes in the field for safe and successful passing out of new pilots. This little guide will help you in selecting the best flying academy suitable for you to make your aviation dream come true. If there is any doubt or query, feel free to contact us or ask us through the ask form above. Personally, I was a victim of bad selection, which made me study thoroughly the field, which made me capable enough of writing this article itself.
First of all, you should keep in mind that, pilot training is not an academic course affiliated or recognised by any university. It is a flying license just like your driving license. That is why many banks don’t give you educational loan and insist on giving career loans which attracts more interest. For becoming a pilot, there are a few steps. First step is the SPL, which is also called Student Pilot License, issued by any authorised flying academy on behalf of DGCA, the main controlling authority. Then comes the PPL, which is not applied and taken by all CPL (commercial pilot license) cadets, while some prefer getting it too. I would strongly recommend that you too apply and get your PPL (private pilot license) before getting CPL, as it will give you a little more confidence as a stepping stone to CPL. Once you have cleared your exams and finished 200 hours, you can apply and get CPL, which is the main license required by airlines for their pilots. After accomplishing 2500 hours of flying, you can apply for ATPL (Airline Transport Pilot License), which is the ultimate license. This is not a necessary thing but an added weightage in aviation Industry, as only ATPL holders are considered captains and they draw more salary than CPL holders. By the way, you should get radio telephony operating license called FRTOL (Flight Radio Telephony Operating License) and clear the RT (Radio Telephony) paper. CPL holders can opt for instructor rating if they wish to become instructors. 200 hours of solo or as PIC (Pilot in command) will make you eligible for instructor rating. Instructors join as ground class instructors, AFI (asst. flying instructor), FI (Flying instructor) and CFI (Chief flying instructor), gradually as per their accrued hours.
Criteria in choosing a pilot school
There are certain factors to consider while selecting a flying school. These factors when sought carefully will help you avoid frauds and pits in the aviation, generally where students fall.
1. Package course or pay per hour?
Most of the flying academies offer package courses including all expenses except personal and accidental expenses. Such packages will come at a bargain price if you pay full money in advance, which is simply suicidal with some institutes. I know people who lost their time and money giving full money in advance. However, those packages ensure lowest prices.
In pay per hour system, a student will remit money on a pay per hour of flying basis. For example, if flying cost in Cessna 172 aircraft is 10,000 Rs, he should pay 50,000 Rs and go for 5 hours of flying. Once 5 hours is done, he should remit more money to continue flying. In this system, chances of cheating will be minimal. Moreover, you can keep interest of money with you itself. In India, fuel prices go up and down regularly and there is no fixed rate. That’s why flying clubs offer different prices at different times. In a pay per hour scheme, you can simply choose when to fly.
2. Type & quality of aircrafts and flying fees
This is of utmost importance as it will matter when you go for a job interview. Companies select those who have flown better aircrafts when a competition arise. That means, most companies prefer candidates who have flown glass cockpit aircrafts than analog ones. Glass cockpit means aircrafts fitted with digital screens instead of analog instruments. You can get your CPL issued, no matter yoou have flown a Cessna 152, Cessna 172 or a Cessna 172, glass cockpit. But for jobs, companies prefer one who have flown more hours in Cessna 172 glass cockpit than other two. In flying clubs, the charges for flying both Cessna 172 and its Glass cockpit version will be same. So, it is advisable to choose a club offering less price per hour for a glass cockpit aircraft than a normal one.
3. Multi-engine aircrafts and their fees
Multi engine aircraft contain 2 or more engines just as in most of the passenger aircrafts. Experience in multi engine aircrafts is an added advantage for joining airlines. However flying costs will be somewhere around 25000 to 40000 Rs per hour. So it is recommended that you should do just 5-10 hours in multi engine, inside the total 200 hours required, so that you wont have to pay another 3-4 lakhs for multi engine flying.
4. Simulators too
Simulators are computer aided machines which generate a feeling of flying heavy aircrafts. It helps in training pilots to fly heavy aircrafts at the fraction of cost and effort to fly real aircrafts. Simulator flying fees in India ranges between 800 rs – 3000 Rs per hour. Do an additional 10-25 hours of simulator flying as an extra once you finish your real 200 hours of flying.
5. Airport used
Some flying academies work in conjunction with active commercial/government owned or managed airports by paying them rent. Some have their own airports solely for training purposes. It is advised to fly with an academy using commercial airport, as you will get real Radio Telephony instructions and a feel and confidence of flying commercially. That will help in your future as you will not feel home-sick while flying cross-country or for professional airlines.
6. Combined ratings and other simultaneous courses
Many academies conduct graduate courses and diploma courses in which pilot trainees can also join. BSc Aviation, MBA in airport management, diploma in ground duty, Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (AME), ATC Guild etc. are the common courses conducted. Joining these courses will increase your connections with other professionals in the same field.
7. Ground class instructors, coaching
For CPL, you will have to write and pass 6 subjects- Air regulations, Meteorology, Technical General, Technical Specific, Navigation and radio aids and Radio Telephony. It is essential that ground class you get from your academy should be good to make you pass exams in flying colors to get your CPL issued in time. I know pilot trainees writing exams even after finishing their whole flying hours. So, enquire about the teaching staff in the academy you are about to join before joining. If the offers they give are too hard to resist, register online with some providers like pilot18.com or join some ground class training programs near your academy, to get your papers cleared in time.
8. Connectivity of the place
The flying club should be situated in a convenient place for you to make yourself feel good with the atmosphere. As a pilot, you should be able to adjust with varying situations, but still, you can have your personal choices.
9. Previous history, Alumni
Best avoid academies with frequent flying halts, fuel shortages, aircraft issues, less number of aircrafts, less number of crew, blacklisted by DGCA in the past, frequent faculty changes, non-disciplined, less percentage of passing outs etc. to make your future bright. Consult students who have flown with the academy in the past to know much about this. Their experience should be treated more valuably than the sweet coated words of the flying club officials. Guarantees if made by the officials should be asked in written, to use in a situation that may arise in future.
10. Food, travel, accommodation, ragging,
These are actually basic things to consider while joining for any course. Flying clubs of your choice may not be available in the near vicinity of your home and you should be shifted near your college for flying. It is advised that, for first few months you should stay with the hotel provided by your college and later on, after studying the local atmosphere, you can find yourself a rented house or hostel and shift to there. I prefer buying a two wheeler for local transport if places are far from your residence and a bicycle if they are near.
Food should be given due care and maintain proper hygiene to prevent getting caught by epidemics. Keep in touch with some hospital to make sure that you will be under their surveillance if some need arise. Cooking yourself will be the best option if you are not too bad in it.
Ragging is prohibited in colleges and is legally punishable in India. Don’t hesitate to report any harassing incident to the officials to take necessary action. If the officials are taking any neutral stance, call the local police for help.
Hope this little guide is useful and informative. Feel free to ask us any queries. Comments, sharing and likes are most welcomed.