I have heard this question from many aspirants from India. Whether it is good to do pilot training in India or should I go abroad? They are expecting answers for a number of questions through this single question. Cost of training, job opportunities, ease of exams and ease of obtaining ratings are the main concerns. Let us go through the key points now.
Cost of training
Cost of pilot training is less in many countries like S. Africa, Philippines, USA etc. However, the costs as per advertisement usually includes flying charges only. You have to pay extra for food, accommodation, to & for travel, local transportation etc. which costs a lot in USA, Canada, UK etc. So make sure that the package includes all of these, before signing up. Flight charges, documentation fees etc. are usually excluded from the package and so due attention should be given for that.
While considering cost of flying, make sure that you are comparing packages in India and abroad with similar aircraft with similar features. Charges differ heavily depending on features like conventional & glass cockpit, variant or model of aircraft, age of aircraft, airport used (prefer busy airports with passenger transit over private airstrips), simulator type and fuel used (diesels are less expensive).
Number of hours required to achieve licenses may differ slightly from country to country. So make sure that you are paying for 200 hours of flying, which is mandatory as per Indian standard. If you can get license in 150 hours in the country you chose you will have to fly another 50 hours to complete 200 hours of flight time, when trying to convert license to Indian CPL. If you no longer wish to work in India, it will be okay to go with the standards of the other country.
Duration of training
Many Indian students who went abroad for pilot training suffered issues with the duration of training. Some academies promise unrealistic duration of 3 months, which is simply an impossible time-frame. You may be able to finish your flying of 200 hours in 3 months, but getting license in your hand may take another 3 months. So go for realistic time-frames and dont rush to the scene.
Career and job availability
Almost all students who wish to become a pilot wants to be an airline pilot. Pilot jobs are not just limited to airline jobs. Instructor jobs, chartered flying, private jets etc. are also there as jobs. Some academies offer job assurance to attract students. Dont think that you will be placed soon after getting your CPL. Mostly you will be placed as a safety pilot or an assistant flying instructor in their own academy for cheap salaries, only to keep their promise. Remember, no one can assure you a job. If they are doing so, it comes at the cost of compromised quality of job. If you are skillful enough, you can hunt for job and get placed in a lucrative airline cockpit soon after completion. It depends on how well you learn and respond.
In India, now-a-days jobs are there as our airlines are all busy expanding their fleets with new aircraft. Flying instructors in many academies got placed in many airlines already and so vacancies for instructors are also there. For instructors, salaries are lot less (about 1/5th) compared to that in airlines. Though they can earn somewhere around 50,000 to 80,000 Rs per month in India.
Ease of pilot exams
Many students think that exams are lot more easier in many countries when compared to India. Is it true? Yes, but there is a catch. A pilot must be very knowledgeable about aviation topics which are similar in syllabus in almost all countries. If one passes out easily, it means his knowledge is limited or he learned well. If the former is the case, it will affect you in later stages of your career, for sure. So better learn everything in syllabus well and you wont find any difference in exams abroad or India.
Compare syllabus of both EASA and DGCA CPL and find how similar both of them are.
This is for those who wish to get a foreign CPL but wants to work in India as a pilot. Foreign licenses must be converted to Indian ones and you have to attend conversion exams (CPL-CG) for that. Exams are same or similar to that of CPL-G exams. If you wish to work abroad itself, you dont have to bother about conversion. Many pilots from India are working in many parts of the world without an Indian license. Moreover, flying a foreign international aircraft over India doesnt require you to have an Indian license. Cool, right?
Over-logging and blacklisting
Some academies in some countries offer dead-cheap costs for their pilot training packages, with everything included. It seems like pilot training is less costlier than doing an MBA there. What is the trap there? Over-logging. That means, you will get 500 hours of flying recorded in your logbook while you get only 200 hours of actual flying. Some academies in Philippines was notorious of over-logging and students who got their CPL from Philippines suffered a lot recently, as airline companies were reluctant to choose them for jobs. In India, over-logging is almost impossible as every academy is strictly monitored by DGCA.
So, the final word?
As you saw, there is no exact answer for whether to choose India or a foreign country, as it depends on various factors. If you wish to settle in some foreign country, Indian license may not help. Foreign licenses are more or less same in cost and so an exact comparison is difficult if quality of training is similar. If you have relatives or friends abroad, who can arrange food, accommodation and local transportation, US, UK and Canada are good options.
I know this article is not exhaustive. Please feel free to ask your queries through comment box below. Thanks for readers who encouraged me to write this. Your queries will be addressed in no time.