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Up in the air
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 09, 2012
First Published: 17:57 IST(9/10/2012)
Last Updated: 18:12 IST(9/10/2012)
Ready to go: Pilots can work in private airlines as well charter companies, flying small planes and helicopters

The lowdown
Commercial pilots fly all kinds of aircraft — huge passenger jets, cargo or even tiny chartered planes. They man the controls of an aircraft, communicate with control towers of various airports on the flight path and coordinate with them for weather reports, directions etc. The captain of the plane is responsible for maintaining crew resource management and coordination between ground staff, cabin crew, passengers, catering staff, aircraft engineers, air traffic controllers and other agencies. The first officer (co-pilot) is supposed to assist the captain in discharging his or her duties. S/he should have the ability to adapt to different environmental situations and perform in extreme conditions like bad weather or if the aircraft malfunctions

Schedule of a commercial pilot on a given day
9am: Check pre-flight briefing
9.30am: Go through weather briefing, meteorological reports and turbulence level at different altitudes, determining fuel required for the flight and loading etc
10am: Take pre-flight walk to check any fuselage damage, fuel or oil leak
10.15am: Cockpit preparation, make sure all instruments are calibrated and emergency equipment is on board, brief the crew
10.30am: Take off and fly to the destination, while transmitting position of aircraft to air traffic controller (ATC) and interpreting the information received from the ATC tower
2pm: Preparing the aircraft to land, securing cabin for landing, obtaining latest weather of destination airport, briefing crew about landing and informing passenger about landing time

The payoff
Pilots just beginning their careers earn about Rs. 60,000 to Rs. 70,000 a month, which can go up to Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 1.5 lakh as a co-pilot. Senior pilots earn Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 3 lakh per month and the pay can go up to Rs. 5 lakh a month. Salaries increase with time and experience

* High level of situational awareness
* Ability to take split-second decisions
* Courage to face challenges like bad weather, a hijack or any equipment malfunction with calm and in a responsive manner 
* Ability to stay focused for long hours
* Good communication skills

Getting there
Read English, maths and physics in Class 12. After that undergo a pilot training course from a reputable directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA)-approved institute. You must meet the criteria as per DGCA’s Class I medical assessment rules. It’s mandatory to complete 200 hours of flying and clear theory papers to be eligible for the commercial pilot licence (CPL). You can also get trained at a reputable institute in the United States, Australia, Canada or any country approved by the DGCA, but clearing DGCA exams is necessary for the CPL. After that you need to have multi-engine endorsement to apply for an airline job. Then, you get training on simulators to get the endorsement to fly as a first officer (co-pilot).This training takes six months to a year after you get the CPL

Institutes and URLs
* Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademy, CSM Nagar (Raebareli)
* Ahmedabad Aviation and Aeronautics, Ahmedabad
* Carver Aviation, Baramati
* Chimes Aviation Academy, Sagar
* Gujarat Flying Club, Vadodara

Pros and cons
* Handsome six-figure salary at an early stage
* Exciting job that takes you to new places almost every second day
* Exorbitant training cost, which can range from Rs. 15 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh. The multi-engine endorsement costs another Rs. 3 lakh to Rs. 8 lakh
* Odd hours of flying and work, having to maintain a zero error profession could be stressful
* You get extra money for the flying hours. However, you don’t get much personal or family time

Being a commercial pilot means balancing your professional and personal life. If one can do this, he’ll fall in love with this job --Captain AS Bhinder, commander, Airbus-a320, Air India and former president, Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association, New Delhi

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