How to become a Pilot ?

Professional step-by-step guide to become commercial pilot

The long road to the SKy

Types of Licenses


Student Pilot License

This is a ‘Learners license’ issued by a flying school for undergoing flying training only. Needs a valid Class II medicals.

Minimum age is 16 years.


Private Pilot License

It is a license to fly your private aircraft. But you can’t fly commercially with airline companies.

Minimum age is 17 years.


Commercial Pilot License

This is the license which can get you hired by airline companies as a Pilot - First Officer. Needs a valid Class I medicals

Minimum age is 18 years.


Airline Transport Pilot License

This is the highest category of flying license. But you will need a CPL first, fly 1500 hrs and pass a few more exams.

Minimum age is 21 years.

Step-by-Step Guide

0 Educational Qualification

Minimum educational requirement for SPL/CPL/ATPL

Passing 10 +2 exams with maths & physics is mandatory for CPL. If you were a commerce student, you can appear for maths & physics separately through NIOS (open schooling) to clear these exams.

1 Ground Training

Computer Number SPL/CPL/ATPL

This is where you start. A computer number is necessary for you to apply for DGCA CPL/ATPL exams. Register for your free ID at Fill the online application form & upload scanned PDFs of the required documents. Ensure that the physical application & attested enclosures reach CEO, DGCA, within 10 days of the online application. If everything is in order, you will get your Computer Number.

List of documents required are

  • Photograph, signature & date of birth proof.
  • X & XII pass certificate, mark sheet & board verification certificate.
  • Aadhar card & permanent address proof.
  • Applicable pages of Flying Log Book (first & last pages).

For 10 th & 12 th mark-sheet & board verification, apply to your education board. For CBSE, if you graduated in 2004 or later, download the verification from & get it attested. Offline verification process is time consuming & involves sending a copy of your mark sheets to any of the 10 CBSE regional offices with a DD of Rs.500. This procedure is mentioned at their website.

CPL Exams

Once you have a Computer Number, you can apply for online exams. For CPL, there are 4 exams.

  • Air Regulations
  • Navigation
  • Meteorology
  • Tech General

Exams are conducted every 3 months & their schedule is published at When the online application portal opens, apply for your exam, your preferred exam centre & pay the fees at The fee is Rs.2500/- per exam. Exams have a validity of 5 years. It means, from the date of clearing the 1st exam, you must obtain your license by fulfilling all other requirements within 5 years. If not, you’ll have to write the lapsed exam again.

You can either clear ground exams before you start flying or clear it simultaneously with flying. Clearing Ground Exams before you join flying school would save you time & money. Depending upon your budget, you can study for these exams on your own (totally free), take ground coaching classes or join a composite package in a flying school (which includes ground & flying training). It is totally your choice.

‘The Aviator’s Handbook’ & ‘The Aviator’s Handbook - Online’ will save you time & money. It covers the complete CPL & ATPL syllabus, & helps you prepare for your exams by offering a comprehensive, structured, flexible & affordable DGCA CPL/ATPL exams preparation system.

2 Flying Training

Class II Medicals

This is generally taken care of, by the flying school before you commence flying training because you need a valid Class II medicals certificate from a DGCA empanelled doctor for an SPL (Student Pilot License). List of empanelled doctors is available at the DGCA website. To schedule it yourself,

Pay the fee at as a non-registered user (payment head ‘Medical - CAR Section 7 : Issuance of Medical Class II). Tests include Eye sight & colour blindness, ENT, hearing, height & weight, blood tests and abdomen ultrasound.

SPL Student Pilot License

It will be issued by a flying school, after completion of Class II medicals, before commencing flying training.

Flying Training

This is where you start your flying. Research online & join a good flying school. Number of trainer aircraft, instructor - student ratio, safety track record & facilities at operating aerodrome are the key indicators. DGCA approved training institutions would be ideal. Some schools also offer a composite CPL ground subjects training + flying training package at a higher cost. After you pass your flying tests, you’ll need to fly minimum 200 hrs before you can apply for a CPL.

3 FRTOL Flight Radio Telephony Operator Licence

RTR (A) Radio Telephony Restricted (Aero)

An RTR and consequently an FRTOL is required for your to operate radio sets onboard an aircraft. For that, you need to pass a few exams. But unlike DGCA exams, RTR exams are conducted by the Department of Telecom. Exams are conducted 6 times in a year, in one city at a time (Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkatta) once every 2 months. The exam schedule is published at their website You have to register for your ID and apply for the exam there. For paying the exam fee of Rs.500/-, create an ID at

  1. Log-in
  2. Make your Payment
  3. Receipt for DoT
  4. RTR (A)

After the online application, the physical application along with its supporting documents needs to be sent to the address mentioned on the website within 10 days. Once approved, the admit card will be available for download.

RTR (A) exam consists of 2 parts: Practical RT Transmission Technique & Viva. Results of the practical RT test are announced immediately & those who clear it proceeds for the viva on the same day. The viva results are published on their website after about a month. After clearing the exam, apply for your RTR CoP license. The procedure is mentioned on their website. The fee for a ‘lifetime’ RTR license is Rs.10,000/-.

There are many online coaching classes that offer to train you in passing RTR (A) exam, for a fee. This may actually save you a lot of time and trouble.

A comprehensive description of RTR (A) exam, application procedure, syllabus, practise question papers & sample route charts are given in ‘The Aviator’s Handbook’

Class I Medicals

Before you apply for CPL and FRTOL, you need a valid Class I medical certificate. Initial Class I medicals is only done at Air Force hospitals at Bangalore & Delhi. This medical is more strict than Class II medicals. To schedule it,

Select your preferred Air Force centre & date. Pay the fee at as a non-registered user (payment head: Medical - CAR Section 7 : Issuance of Medical Class I).

Once your medical examination is verified ‘Medical Assessment’ will be available for download at your eGCA ID.

Flying Currency

Minimum 10 hrs flying is required in the last 12 months. You will be mostly undergoing flying training at this time, so this will not be a problem.

Apply for FRTOL

Once you have an RTR, a valid class 1 medicals & flying currency,

Upload the required documents & pay the fee of 5000/- at as a non registered user (payment head: Pilot Licencing - Rule 48 (New Delhi) : Issue of FRTOL).

You also will have to send the original documents by post. On approval, your FRTOL will be sent to you by post.

4 eGCA Portal


eGCA is an online portal developed by DGCA for all matters related to licensing like applying for Medicals, FRTOL, CPL/ ATPL application, etc. Register your free eGCA ID at Log-in and start filling out your e-logbook at eGCA for the requisite hours required for the license. This is a time- consuming process, especially if you are applying for an ATPL.


English Language Proficiency Test

Since English is the standard language for aviation, you need to be fluent in it. For ELP certification, you will need to apply directly with any DGCA approved establishment (list available on the DGCA website) that conducts an ELP course. The syllabus is for a fixed number of hours, at the end of which, you will have to undergo a test. It is a practical test to check standards of your pronunciation, vocabulary, fluency & comprehension. Depending upon your performance, you get an ELP level from 1 - 6.

Level 1, 2 or 3 means you have failed the test & further training is required.

Level 4 is valid for 3 yrs, Level 5 for 6 yrs & Level 6 is valid for life.

6 Apply for CPL

CPL Application

You are almost there. Once you have completed 200 hrs of flying, cleared CPL exams, Class I medicals, RTR, FRTOL, ELP & Flying Test

Upload the required documents & ensure that the required documents are also sent to DGCA. If every thing is in order, your will get your license to fly 😊

Integrated Cadet Training Program

Integrated Cadet Training Program

This is a comprehensive course offered by leading airline companies. It includes ground training, flying training and RTR training, at the end of which you will get your CPL & probably get absorbed into the airline itself. There would be an entrance test & an interview for selection into this course.

Although convenient & all-encompassing, such programs can be quite expensive.

After CPL options

What After CPL?

Well, there are a few options.

  1. Right after CPL, you could continue your studies and pass the more comprehensive ATPL exams and get a frozen ATPL (you still have a CPL, but the moment you reach 1500 hrs, your CPL will be automatically upgraded). This will give you a better chance of getting a job at airline companies and a better pay package.
  2. Appear directly for a job at any airline company. Depending upon vacancy, you could be hired as a First Officer. And when you attain 1500 hrs, you can clear ATPL exams and become a Captain.
  3. Get a Flight Instructor Rating & join a flying school as an Instructor - you get paid while you build your 1500 hrs towards your ATPL. Then pass your ATPL exams and join an airline company as captain.
After CPL options

7 ATPL Exams and Interviews

ATPL Exams

Although some exams are the same, ATPL syllabus is more comprehensive than CPL syllabus. There are 7 exams

  • Air Regulations
  • Meteorology
  • Radio Aids + viva
  • Navigation + viva
  • Tech General
  • Tech Specific
  • Tech Performance

For Radio-aids & Navigation, once you pass the exam, you also need to clear its respective viva-voce. Dates for the viva are published about 2 weeks after the announcement of the results of the online exam. If you fail in your 1st viva attempt, you can attempt it twice more in sub-sequent exam cycles. For this, apply for the viva separately in the same way you applied for the online exam.

8 Apply for ATPL

ATPL Application

After you have flown 1500 hrs, cleared ATPL exams & Flying Test

Upload the required documents & ensure that the required documents are also sent to DGCA.

Congratulations !
You have became a Captain of an Aircraft.


Military Pilots

TDGCA recognises the hours you have flown in service of our country. You can apply for an ATPL directly if you have more than 1500 hrs on a multi engine DGCA recognised aircraft. Also, for you, Meteorology, Radio-aids & Navigation exams are combined into a single composite exam and its corresponding single viva. Tech General exam is waived-off. That leaves just 4 exams. Air Regulations, Composite-paper, Tech Specific & Tech Performance.

DGCA has also exempted military pilots from undergoing ELP syllabus/course. You can appear for the ELP test directly. Cheers!

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