How To Become a Commercial Pilot in India – Steps, Cost, Eligibility Criteria

Becoming a pilot is a prestigious career path in both government and private sectors. Candidates aspiring to be pilots after 12th grade or Graduation must meet specific eligibility criteria. Pilots are trained and licensed professionals responsible for operating various aircraft, including helicopters and planes for passengers, cargo, and postal services. Their duties extend beyond flying; they are also tasked with maintaining an aircraft’s internal mechanics and developing detailed flight plans. These plans must consider factors like aircraft performance, altitude, and weather conditions to ensure safe and efficient travel.

How To Become a Commercial Pilot in India

Types of Pilot in India

Pilots are classified into various types, each with specialized training and roles. Here are some common categories:

  1. Commercial Airline Pilots: They fly large commercial aircraft, transporting passengers and cargo on scheduled flights for airlines.
  2. Military Pilots: Trained to operate military aircraft, they may engage in combat, surveillance, or transport missions.
  3. Private Pilots: Holders of a Private Pilot License (PPL), they fly small aircraft for personal or leisure purposes.
  4. Helicopter Pilots: Specialize in flying helicopters, working in fields like air ambulance services, search and rescue, law enforcement, and tourism.
  5. Airline Transport Pilots (ATPs): With the highest level of certification, they fly larger aircraft and often serve as captains or first officers on commercial airlines.
  6. Cargo Pilots: Focus on transporting goods and cargo, working for cargo airlines or the cargo divisions of larger airlines.
  7. Aerobatic Pilots: Perform aerobatic maneuvers in air shows or competitions, showcasing precise flying skills.
  8. Test Pilots: Evaluate the performance and safety of new or modified aircraft by conducting flight tests.
  9. Agricultural Pilots: Also known as crop dusters, they fly aircraft equipped with spraying gear to apply fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides to crops.
  10. Seaplane Pilots: Operate aircraft capable of taking off and landing on water, providing transportation, sightseeing tours, and other services in areas with water bodies.

Overview on How To Become Pilot in India ?

Before embarking on the journey to become a pilot in India after 12th or Graduation grade, it’s crucial to understand the eligibility requirements. Candidates must have a Science background with Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics (PCM). Following this, they can pursue undergraduate aviation courses at top colleges. Additionally, aspiring pilots need to clear the CPSS (Computerized Pilot Selection System) tests, often required for Indian Air Force-equivalent exams like NDA (National Defence Academy) and AFCAT (Air Force Common Admission Test). These steps provide a clear path for those aiming to become pilots after completing their 12th grade.

Post NameEntrance ExamsEducational QualificationLicenceAverage Annual SalaryTop Pilot Training Institutes
Commercial PilotNDA, CDS, AFCAT10+2 pass with Science (Physics, Chemistry, Maths) or CommercePrivate Pilot License (PPL), Certified Flight Instructor (CFL), Commercial Pilot License (CPL), Commercial Multi-Engine Land (CMEL)Rs. 8 lakhs to Rs. 20 lakhs (Commercial/Private)Air Force Academy (AFA), National Flying Training Institute, Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Academy
Pilot in Indian Air Force (Flying Branch)NDA, CDS, AFCATUG courses like BSc Aviation, BBA Aviation Management, B.E. Aeronautical Engineering, etc.Private Pilot License (PPL), Certified Flight Instructor (CFL), Commercial Pilot License (CPL), Commercial Multi-Engine Land (CMEL)Rs. 3.5 lakhs to Rs. 6 lakhs (Government/IAF)Air Force Academy (AFA), National Flying Training Institute, Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Academy
Airline Pilot & Fighter PilotNDA, CDS, AFCATPG courses like M.Sc Aviation or MBA Aviation ManagementPrivate Pilot License (PPL), Certified Flight Instructor (CFL), Commercial Pilot License (CPL), Commercial Multi-Engine Land (CMEL)Rs. 3.5 lakhs to Rs. 6 lakhs (Government/IAF), Rs. 8 lakhs to Rs. 20 lakhs (Commercial/Private)Air Force Academy (AFA), National Flying Training Institute, Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Academy

Eligibility Criteria for Becoming a Commercial Pilot in India

  • Age: Minimum 17 years, maximum 60-65 years.
  • Education: Passed or appeared in 12th grade with Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics.
  • Marks: Minimum aggregate of 50% in 12th grade.
  • Medical: Must pass two medical tests as per DGCA requirements.

How to Become a Commercial Pilot in India After 12th

Step 1: Choose the Right Stream in 12th Grade
Opt for the Science stream with Physics and Mathematics as compulsory subjects. These provide the foundational knowledge needed for aviation studies.

Step 2: Research Flight Training Schools
Look for reputable flight training schools in India approved by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Step 3: Meet Medical Requirements
Undergo a medical examination at a DGCA-approved facility to get a Class 1 Medical Certificate, confirming your physical fitness to fly.

Step 4: Enroll in a Flying School
Join a DGCA-approved flight training program. Choose a course based on your career goals, such as commercial or private pilot training.

Step 5: Ground School and Theory Training
Attend ground school sessions to learn about aviation regulations, meteorology, navigation, and aerodynamics. These theory classes prepare you for the theoretical exams needed for pilot certification.

Step 6: Start Flight Training
Begin practical flight training with certified instructors, gaining hands-on experience in flying an aircraft.

Step 7: Clear DGCA Examinations
Pass the DGCA-conducted written exams on various aviation subjects, testing your knowledge of aviation principles and regulations.

Step 8: Accumulate Flight Hours
Log the required flight hours as specified by DGCA for your pilot license. This includes solo flights, cross-country flights, and training hours.

Step 9: Obtain Private Pilot License (PPL)
After meeting flight hour requirements and passing exams, obtain a PPL, allowing you to fly aircraft for personal use.

Step 10: Acquire Additional Ratings (Optional)
Consider getting additional ratings like Instrument Rating (IR) or Multi-Engine Rating (MER) to enhance your qualifications.

Step 11: Obtain Commercial Pilot License (CPL)
Continue training and log the required flight hours. Once eligible, apply for a CPL from DGCA to become a commercial pilot.

Step 12: Gain Experience and Apply for Jobs
After obtaining your CPL, gain experience by working as a co-pilot or first officer with airlines. As you accumulate more flight hours and experience, you can advance your career in aviation.

How Much It Cost To Become a Pilot In India

Pursuing a career as a pilot in India is both exciting and rewarding, offering a bright future in the aviation industry. However, pilot training involves a significant investment, typically ranging from INR 35,00,000 to INR 45,00,000.
1. Flight Training:
– Core component involving practical flying experience.
– Costs around INR 25 to 30 lakhs.
– Cost per hour ranges from INR 15,000 to INR 20,000.

2. Ground School:
– Provides theoretical knowledge on subjects like aerodynamics, meteorology, and navigation.
– Costs between INR 2 to 4 lakhs.

3. Accommodation:
– If training away from home, accommodation costs must be considered.
– Ranges from INR 5,000 to INR 15,000 per month, depending on location and type.

4. Other Expenses:
– Study Materials: Books, charts, and other materials, costing between INR 10,000 to INR 20,000.
– Miscellaneous Costs: Including medical exams and licensing fees.

Total Cost Estimation:
Considering flight training, ground school, accommodation, and other expenses, the total cost of pilot training in India ranges from INR 35 lakhs to INR 45 lakhs.


Becoming a pilot is a prestigious and multifaceted career option that spans both government and private sectors. Pilots, responsible for operating various aircraft, undergo rigorous training and hold specialized licenses. Their duties include flight planning, aircraft maintenance, and ensuring passenger safety. With distinct roles like commercial airline pilots, military pilots, and private pilots, they play crucial roles in aviation. Aspiring pilots typically start by meeting eligibility criteria, pursuing aviation courses, and clearing necessary exams. This career path demands dedication, skill, and a commitment to safety and excellence in aviation.

To become a pilot, the primary educational qualification required is completion of 10+2 with Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics (PCM). This educational background provides the foundational knowledge needed for aviation studies and is essential for pursuing further training and certifications in aviation.

Becoming a pilot can be challenging due to rigorous training, strict medical requirements, and high costs, but it is achievable with dedication and hard work

Yes, being a pilot is considered a prestigious and rewarding career choice with opportunities for travel, competitive salaries, and job stability in the aviation industry.

The best degree for pilots typically includes aviation-related fields such as Aviation Science, Aeronautical Engineering, or Aerospace Engineering.

Yes, pilot exams can be challenging due to their rigorous nature and the comprehensive knowledge required in subjects like aviation regulations, meteorology, and aircraft systems.

Yes, pilots generally have good job prospects, especially those who have completed their training from reputable institutions and have gained the necessary flight hours and certifications. However, the availability of jobs can vary based on factors like economic conditions, industry demand, and individual qualifications.

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