Few other careers offer the thrill of travelling across the world and earning a handsome pay package at the same time. However, those who opt for a career in aviation can easily accomplish both. So how does one go about making a career in aviation? Any student who has cleared the class XII examination with physics, maths and English can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Aviation course. In addition, they must also clear rigorous fitness tests which are necessary considering the nature of the job. These test results must be approved by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) which is the apex body in India for regulating affairs in this field.
It is imperative for every pilot to obtain his commercial pilot license from the DGCA. First, candidates get their student pilot license. Then after around 10 hours of assisted flying they obtain their flight radio telephony ;icense (restricted) which means they can fly solo. "After more than 200 hours of flying, a student can apply for the commercial pilot license without which they cannot apply for jobs," says C Kumar, principal, Bombay Flying Club.
Apart from flying schools, many aviation training institutes also coach students to become pilots. However experts advise caution while selecting such institutes with regards to their infrastructure, faculty and track record of placements. Also, since most of these institutes charge between Rs 20-30 lakh rupees for commercial oilot training, it is a choice that must be made carefully.
After obtaining their license, students will begin their career as a first officer and remain in the post until they clock at least 1,000 hours of flying. Candidates are then promoted to become command pilots subject to completion of certain additional licences as may be required by the airline. A pilot's remuneration makes the high tuition fees seem insignificant. "It is a simple understating of input and output. A co-pilot earns around Rs 2,00,000 per month while a senior commander earns Rs 7 to 8 lakh," explains Kumar.
Students can also decide to opt to pursue cabin crew opportunities in the field. "Most of the airlines are on a lookout for young talent," says Kumar. The University of Mumbai offers a one year diploma course for cabin crew training as well. Any student who has cleared their HSC exams can apply for the training course.
Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (ACM) is another field in the sector which has ample growth potential and is in great demand. "An aircraft is huge in size and has a number of different parts like the radio, engine, airframe etc. Each part needs a dedicated set of professionals to ensure that they work properly and hence there is a constant need for engineers and technicians," says Ajay Bahadur, a senior instructor, Bombay Flying Club. A student who has cleared physics, chemistry and math in class XII is eligible to apply for a course in ACM. As with pilot training, ACM also requires students to secure a licence from the DGCA after gaining a few years of experience depending on their specialisation.
Recently, aviation industry aspirants had to deal with the slowdown in the industry. However with the relaxation of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in aviation sector, the market has opened up. A number of new airlines like Air Asia, Air Costa, TATA Singapore Airlines, have already started or will soon start operations in India. Air India too is posed to gradually expand its operations. "This will obviously translate into more employment opportunities across different fields of aviation," informs Kumar. Airline authorities seem to agree with this assessment. Sukhjit Pasricha, vice president, human resource, Indigo Airlines, shares, "We add to our fleet across roles every month, this year we will hire another 1,000 colleagues to our team."
As the market expands, so will the growth opportunities in this sector. "With so much potential for growth, there are bound to be opportunities," signs off Pasricha.