Commercial Pilot Career Information
What a Commercial Pilot does
Piloting is serious business. It carries considerable charm, prestige, responsibility and risk. You'll find yourself in different time zones, climates and cultures every day. It's like a different expedition every time...a new and exciting world to discover and journey through.
A typical workday depends on the number of pilots a plane needs and whether you are flying international or domestic. A long day can last for as many as 12 hours. But with international flights there could be no limits to your working hours. In any case, you won't be at the cockpit for more than 4 hours at a stretch.
As a commercial pilot, you will be flying different types of aircrafts right from a 16-seater small plane to 747 jumbo jets and airbuses. Flying at a height of 5000-30,000 ft. above the sea level can be a real high!
As a commercial pilot you will be responsible for the safe run of the aircraft between destinations. You will also be responsible for the safety of the crewmembers, passengers and the aircraft during its flight.
As a pilot you will have to be fully aware of the weather, flight conditions, flight routes and international sky limits. Seeking the approval of the Air Traffic Control before flying and landing, checking the electrical and mechanical functioning of various components of the aircraft and checking the fuel conditions are part of your job.
A pilot has to make sure that there are absolutely no technical snags before taking off. This job calls for very high level of precision. No mistake, however negligible can be overlooked as even a small error in the engine can spell disaster.
The Captain/Senior Commander makes all the major decisions and is overall responsible for the flight's safety. He is the team leader and must establish an effective crew atmosphere, with good communication and resource management.
The First Officer assists the Captain. He also helps the Captain in pre-flight duties like reviewing paperwork and pre-flight checks. The First Officer is also a pilot but a junior one at that. Trainee Pilots generally fly as co-pilots. A Trainee Pilot goes on to become a Pilot or First officer on board. The first promotion is a Commander or Captain and thereafter a Senior Commander. Seniority is determined by the hours of flying and successful completion of various training programmes and subsequent certification.
• Government carriers like Indian (formerly known as Indian Airline); Air India or their subsidiaries like Alliance Air.
• Domestic private airlines like Sahara, Jet Airways, Go Air, etc.
• Foreign Airlines like British Airways, Delta Airlines, Singapore Airlines, United Air, Lufthansa, etc.
• Corporate companies that own private jets like TISCO, Kirloskar, Reliance, Tata, Mahindra & Mahindra, etc.
• Cargo companies that own fleets like DHL, UPS, etc.
• You could also acquire a CPL and apply to the Air Force as a pilot on Short Service Commission for a period of five years.
The good news is that the existing domestic airlines have been allowed fleet expansions. Add to that the investment in air traffic infrastructure and there sure seems to be a silver lining.
Besides opportunities in the domestic sector it is always possible to get a job in foreign airlines. Lastly, greater the number of flying hours, better is the chances of landing a job or at least getting the employer to look at your curriculum vitae!
Abilities & Traits Required
If you are ready to take responsibility for the billion-dollar aerodynamic machine called an airplane and the numerous lives that will be entrusted in your hands, you need to be:
• A very intelligent person with excellent analytical and reasoning abilities
• Excellent scientific reasoning and comfortable with scientific facts and figures
• Alert in every situation
• Able to maintain your cool in times of crisis and even otherwise
• Quick at taking decisions
• Excellent leadership qualities
• Physically fit
You need a Commercial Pilot License, which can be acquired like this:
Student Pilot License (SPL) - After SSC you could register with a flying club, recognised by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), followed by a written test. Then you have to get your medical check-up certified by the Institute of Aviation Medicine or Armed Forces Central Medical Establishments. After this you can stake claim to the most coveted Student Pilot License or SPL.
Private Pilot License (PPL) - This is the second step. After a minimum of 15 hours of flying training with instructors, you are then eligible to fly alone. Thereafter, you have to obtain at least 60 hours of solo flying experience to be eligible for a written test. For this you have to be minimum 17 years of age, 10+2 pass with Physics and Mathematics. Few flying clubs and institutes allow you to register directly for PPL.
Note: This license does not allow you to work with commercial airlines.
Commercial Pilot License (CPL) - This could be obtained from any DGCA recognised flying training institute. Apart from a minimum age of 18 you also need a certificate of fitness issued by a Medical Board approved by the DGCA, Ministry of Civil Aviation, and Government of India. Academically you need to have completed your 10+2 with Physics and Mathematics or BSc with Physics, Maths and Chemistry. At least 250 hours of flying experience is required inclusive of 60 hours in PPL. Twenty-five hours of cross-country and at least five hours of night flying experience is a must.
Apart from the flying experience you also have to pass a written test. Additionally, a commercial pilot needs an instrument rating (which includes night flying) and a multi-engine rating (twin engine flying).
Airline Transport Pilots Licence (ALTPL) - This is the final step in becoming a full-fledged airline pilot. It involves flying for over 1500 hours in a variety of aircrafts apart from passing the theory papers.
Trainee pilots on international routes get Rs 80000 - 100000 a month or more (salary plus other allowances).
Domestic airlines pay Rs 40000- 80000 a month
A Pilot may earn Rs 200000-350000 a month.
A Captain makes Rs 240000 -400000 a month.
Senior commander gets paid Rs 500000 a month in Air India. The salaries include various allowances and perks.