How to become an Indian Airforce pilot

How to become an Indian Airforce pilot



The Armed Forces offer excellent career opportunities to adventurous young candidates who aspire to be pilots. It is a career that offers immense facilities, a privileged lifestyle and, of course, the honor of serving our motherland.

You can become an IAF Pilot by availing one of the following opportunities.


  1. Through the National Defense Academy (NDA)

To join the NDA you need to fulfill the following requirements:

Eligibility Criteria

  1. Educational Qualification:
  2. You should have passed/appeared for 10+2 exams, where studying Physics and Mathematics are compulsory.
  3. Age: 16½ to 19 years
  4. Nationality: Indian
  5. Gender: This is applicable only to men .
  6. Physical Standards: The general physical requirements common for all candidates are:
  7. Must be in good physical and mental health and free from any disease/disability, which is likely to interfere with efficient performance of duties. There should be no evidence of weak constitution, bodily defects or overweight.
  8. The height and weight standards for men and women differ.
  9. Your chest should be well developed. The minimum range of expansion after full inspiration should be 5 cm.
  10. There should be no disease of bones and joints of the body.
  11. Should be free of any past history of mental breakdown or fits.
  12. Your hearing should be normal without any evidence of present or past disease of the ear, nose and throat.
  13. There should be no sign of functional or organic disease of the heart and blood vessels. Your blood pressure should be normal.
  14. The muscles of the abdomen should be well developed without any enlargement of the liver or spleen. Any evidence of disease of internal organs of the abdomen can be a cause for rejection.
  15. An unoperated hernia can make you unfit for selection. If operated, this should have been done at least six months prior to the present examination, and healing should be complete without any potential for recurrence.
  16. There should be no hydrocele, varicocele or piles. If operated for hydromel and/or varicocele, this should have been done at least six months prior to the present examination, and healing should be complete without any recurrence.
  17. Urine examination will be done, and if any abnormality is detected the candidate can be rejected.
  18. Any disease of the skin, which is likely to cause disability or disfigurement, will also be a cause for rejection.
  19. Vision will be tested and you must have good binocular vision. In case you have undergone or are detected to have undergone Radial Keratotomy, or any other procedure, to improve the visual acuity, you will be permanently rejected.
  20. You should have sufficient number of natural and sound teeth. A minimum of 14 dental points will be acceptable. When 32 teeth are present, the total dental points are 22. You should not be suffering from severe pyorrhea.
  21. Through Combined Defense Services Exam (CDSE)
    To join through CDSE, you need to fulfill the following requirements:

Eligibility Criteria

  1. Educational Qualification

First Class graduation (minimum 60% aggregate marks) in any discipline (three years) with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level.

First Class (minimum 60% aggregate marks) in B.E./B.Tech. (four years).

Final Year students can also apply if they don’t have any arrears (backlog) and have a minimum of 60% aggregate marks in the previous year/semester.

  1. Age: 19 to 23 years
  2. Nationality: Indian
  3. Marital Status: Single

The Process

To become an IAF Pilot, one has to follow the below given steps.

Step 1 – Scrutiny of Applications

After scrutiny of the application for the eligibility sent by you to the IAF, you will receive a call letter with further instructions.

If you are seeking entry into the Flying Branch through the NDA or CDSE, your applications needs to be sent to UPSC, New Delhi. They conduct a written test twice a year, in April and August for NDA and in April and September for CDSE. Advertisements for the examinations are released about six months in advance. Qualifying in these exams take you to step two.
If you apply for Short Service Commission Flying (Pilot) or as an National Cadet Corp Senior Division ‘C’ certificate holder, your application is processed by Air HQ and the call letter issued by [AFSB]s.
Step 2 -Testing
Officer-Like Qualities

After successfully clearing Step 1, you will receive a call letter to report to any one of the Air Force Selection Boards located at Dehradun, Varanasi or Mysore. At the Air Force Selection Boards, you undergo a number of psychological tests, an interview and group activities, which are collectively called the Officer Like Qualities (OLQ) Tests. These tests are designed to gauge your potential and suitability as an officer in the Armed Forces.

Short description of the tests:

The psychological tests are written tests that are conducted by a psychologist.

The group tests are interactive indoor and outdoor tests. Active physical participation of the candidate is expected.

The interview involves a personal conversation with the Interviewing Officer.

The following is the schedule for OLQ Tests:

Schedule for flying branch

Day 1 Pilot Aptitude Battery Test (Most Important Test)

Day 2 Phase I & Psychological Tests

Day 3 Group Tests

Day 4 Group Tests Interview

Day 5 Interview

Day 6 Conference

Most important test to become an IAF Pilot:

Pilot Aptitude Battery Test (PABT) is an unique test. It is aimed at assessing a candidate’s aptitude to be trained as a pilot. PABT is being used as an independent selection device to induct potential officers into Flying Branch of Indian Air Force. PABT comprises three tests namely: Instrument Battery Test (INSB), Sensory Motor Apparatus Test (SMA) and Control Velocity Test (CVT). Instrument Battery Test (INSB) is a paper-pencil test and the other two are machine tests.

The Instruments Battery Test (INSB) comprises of two parts. This test assesses assimilation of the briefing and the ability of an individual to read and interpret the dials of the instrument panel of an aircraft. The candidates who score the minimum criteria are subjected to the machine test.

The machine test includes Sensory Motor Apparatus Test (SMA) and Control Velocity Test (CVT). These tests measure the psychomotor coordination skill of the individual. These tests are conducted on a single day and administered only once in an individual’s lifetime.

Only those candidates who qualify in Phase I shall be retained at AFSB for further testing of Phase II. Those recommended by the AFSBs are required to fill up certain documents at the Boards and subsequently move to the next step.

Step 3 – Conducting of Medical Examinations:

If found suitable by the Selection Board, you would be sent to the Air Force Central Medical Establishment, New Delhi or the Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Bangalore for a thorough medical examination.
Step 4 – Preparing All India Merit List:An All India Merit List is compiled on the basis of your performance at the AFSB and is subject to you being medically fit. Based on the vacancies available, Air Headquarters will issue joining instructions to you to join Air Force Academy for the training.

The Flying branch includes Fighter pilots – the most elite persons of the Air force who fly combat or fighter planes (like Mirage 2000, MIG 29, MIG 27, Jaguar, MIG 25, MIG 23 and MIG 21) carrying ammunition and missiles; Transport pilots who fly planes (like huge IL 76 (Gajraj) and AN 32 ) which carry men and materials, and Helicopter (like MI-17) pilots who provide air support to a moving army, or are used for para-dropping men and supplies. Depending on your performance in the training, the plane you will be flying after completing your training in the academy is decided.

Air Force Pilot Career Options

Once inducted in the IAF as pilot, you can move on to the following given positions based on your ability and service experience.

Flying Officer

Flight Lieutenant

Squadron Leader

Wing Commander

Group Captain

Air Commodore

Air Vice Marshal

Air Marshal

Air Chief Marshal (Highest rank in the Indian Air Force)

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