Would one recommend flying as a career when the civil aviation industry is going through a rough patch? I see the possibility of a revival soon. In six months, things should start improving. After (Indian) airlines shed their foreign pilots, many new openings would be created. Students should learn flying but only from a reputable institute like the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Udaan Academy.
Training at a premier institute can be equated to studying management from IIM Ahmedabad, after which job prospects are much higher.
In the current scenario, what can licensed pilots do?
Jobs do exist, but young pilots aim for a minimum salary of Rs 1.5 lakh per month right after getting a licence, which is not possible. This profession is different from a career in engineering, where you can work right after college.
A commercial pilot licence (CPL) holder cannot become a co-pilot immediately. For that, one needs further training (multi-engine training and type endorsement for a specific make, e.g. Boeing or Airbus). Till that happens, you should settle for Rs 60,000-70,000 a month.
Are there any misconceptions about this profession?
Young people go in for flying only because of the glamour. But, in fact, this is the study of science and technology, requiring dedication, perseverance and a lot of hard work.
Pilots don’t like flying helicopters, though it’s a good career option because they see no glamour in it. Flying an aircraft is a job that calls for responsible people who have to manage an entire system. It’s not like driving a bus on Delhi roads.
What are the job options for CPL holders (besides airlines)?
They are encouraged to join the Coast Guard or Defence or paramilitary forces like BSF (check their websites for details). I also expect the demand for helicopter pilots to soar soon. Many corporate houses are setting up office in remote areas and find it convenient to travel by helicopter as it doesn’t require a runway (a rarity at company sites).