Career FAQs: Civil Aviation

What are the skills required to do well in this career?
Air hostesses and flight stewards need to have a hospitable and pleasant personality. One of the common problems faced by air hospitality attendants is that the passengers misbehave with them. Air hospitality attendants need to have a strong personality to deal with such problems in a strong manner and rebuke the passengers without becoming excessively rude.

As for the technical staff and for almost all jobs in the aviation sector, one must be able to work at different times of the day. One may have to work night shifts and sometimes may have to spend more than 24 hours without sleeping. Pilots, cabin crew and air traffic controllers also need to have a high level of concentration and focus, as there is a pressing need for being vigilant and impromptu.
What are the various professional paths in this career?
The nature of work is different for different types of professionals in the aviation industry.

As an airline pilot, you'll fly passengers or cargo on long or short-haul flights for leisure, business or commercial purposes. The aircraft is typically operated by two pilots; one will be the captain who is the pilot in command, while the other will be the supporting first officer. Pilots usually take turns to fly the plane to avoid fatigue, with one operating the controls, while the other speaks to air traffic control and completes the paperwork. In some instances, such as long-haul flights, there may be three or four pilots on board so that each can take the necessary breaks from flying. The captain has overall responsibility for the safe and efficient operation of the aircraft and the safety of crew and passengers.Air cabin crew members provide excellent customer service to passengers while ensuring their comfort and safety throughout the flight. Crew are trained to deal with security and emergency situations which may arise and can administer first aid to passengers.

As a cabin crew(air hostess, steward) member, you'll ensure that all emergency equipment is in working order prior to take off and that there are enough supplies on board. You'll help passengers board the plane and give a demonstration of safety procedures and equipment.Air cabin crew strive to make the flying experience pleasant for passengers and will serve refreshments and meals and sell gifts and duty-free items. You may work on short or long-haul flights.

Whereas being a pilot or an air hostess is most advertised, there are other equally lucrative options in the aviation industry. The various activities in the value chain defining the aviation sector include airline customer support, flight attending rules, nuances of the air transport industry, cargo marketing and management, transportation of perishable cargo, ticket reservation, regulation of traffic, customer relationship, cargo reservations, attendance of flight, flight and ground instruction, cockpit resource management, federal regulation and the federal laws on aviation, aerodynamics and the basic concepts of flying, advanced navigation procedures, multi engine flight instruction, crew synchronization, aviation safety, aviation administration and meteorology.
How can I enter the aviation sector as a pilot?
A pilot's job requires proper training and knowledge as he is responsible for inspecting all the equipment and devices; refuelling the airship and ascertaining that all the systems are functioning properly. His job also calls for the proper verification for contact with air traffic control and the functioning of communication system according to the required standards. Apart from that, his/her job also includes doing complex calculations for both take-off and landing.

The job of a Pilot/Co-Pilot is very challenging as well as rewarding. There are three licences, which you have to acquire to become a pilot:
  • Student's Pilot Licence (SPL): The Student's Pilot Licence is the first stage of training. SPLs are issued by around 25 flying clubs in India. You have to clear an objective written examination, which tests basic mathematics, knowledge of the aircraft, engines and aerodynamics. The test is worth hundred marks and students have to score at least 75 to pass the SPL examination. A manual providing sample questions and answers to give an idea about the nature of the questions expected in the examinations, is issued by the flying clubs. The SPL examination is held every month all over India by the flying clubs. In addition, the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) conducts an examination and issues licence for Assistant Flight Radio Telephone Operators (AFR-TO). There is no age limit to acquire an SPL.
  • Private Pilot Licence (PPL) or the Hobby Licence: The second stage, the Private Pilot License (PPL), comprises 60 hours of flying (40 hours with flying instructor & 20 hours solo) after rigorous training under the flying instructor. Along with flying (practical) training, you also have to complete a theory curriculum and clear a written examination. This examination tests the student's knowledge about aircraft engines, air navigation, aviation meteorology
  • Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL). For the third stage, the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), a minimum of 250 hours of flying (including 60 hours of PPL) is necessary. To get a CPL, you need to have the experience of 200 hours of solo flying. In addition, you have to clear a written examination consisting of subjects like Air Regulations, Aviation Meteorology, Air Navigation, Technical Planning and Communications in Radio and Wireless Transmission. Further, you have to undergo a medical fitness test conducted by a team of doctors approved by the DGCA and the Central Medical Establishment (CME) of the Air Force Unit. The average period of training for commercial pilot is one year.

    In India, the PPL and CPL training is carried out with the help of single engine aircrafts like Cessna and the Pushpak. The acquisition of a CPL is not sufficient. Before you can fly a domestic flight, you must gain experience of minimum 15 hours of solo flying in a multi-engine aircraft. The pilots after acquiring the CPL, get trained at Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh) with Indian. The duration of this training is six months to perfect the technical know-how and flying skills.The fee of flying per hour is different for the various flying clubs across different States due to variations in the operational costs. For example, a training at Karnal (Haryana) would cost less per flying hour compared to that for Cessna in Delhi. On an average, the total cost of getting trained as a pilot is about Rs. 10 lakhs to Rs. 11 lakhs in India. If you have been trained abroad and intend to work in India, you are required to take an examination called Composite Written Examination conducted by DGCA.
  • What are the eligibility criteria for enrolling in a course in the aviation sector?
    The eligibility for technical courses is Physics, Chemistry and Maths till Class 12th in school.

    For air hospitality careers, the eligibility is generally appearing for the Class 12thBoard examinations, though some institutes require Physics, Chemistry and Maths till Class 12th.
    What are the prospects in this career?
    Civil aviation has touched great heights and air transport is the most-preferred mode for people who want to save time and avoid inconvenience that surface transport may cause. Aviation refers to all activities involving the operation of aircrafts. Aviation courses in India deal with Flying Operation (jobs performed by Pilots), Aircrew (such as Air Hostesses), Air Traffic Management, Technical aspects of Flight, Aviation Safety, Regulatory Policies and Economics of airport.

    Civil Aviation courses (as opposed to the Indian Air Force, that is, the air wing of the Indian armed forces) are necessary for those wishing to work in Government or regulatory bodies of aviation or those planning to work as aviation consultants. All aviation courses in India are supposed to comply with the rules laid down by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Professional courses are available for both those wishing to work in technical sectors of the aviation industry as well as for those wishing to work in non-technical sectors, like those involved in air hospitality (air hostesses and flight stewards).
    Can you give some useful links to explore this career in greater detail?
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