Flying as a career has everything — glamour, travel and very good money. Besides, the idea of defying gravity and streaking across the blue skies is definitely appealing. But there is more to flying than that. As a commercial pilot, you are responsible for the billion-dollar aerodynamic machine they call an airplane and the numerous lives that are entrusted into your hands.
What’s this career about?
Pilots are highly trained professionals who fly airplanes and helicopters to carry out a wide variety of tasks. Although most pilots transport passengers and cargo, some are involved in more unusual tasks, such as dusting crops, spreading seed for reforestation, tracking criminals, rescuing and evacuating injured persons.
On commercial airlines, small planes require two pilots in the cockpit, larger airlines require three: captain, first officer (co-pilot), and second officer (flight engineer). The captain is responsible for the entire flight: passengers, crew, cargo and aircraft. The first officer assists the captain in operating the aircraft, handling communications with the ground, and monitoring the craft’s instruments. The second officer assists in operating flight, checks the craft’s mechanical and electronic devices and makes minor in-flight repairs.
A pilot has to keep checking the instruments even when the aircraft is on auto mode. They have to maintain contact with air traffic control and the cabin crew. After landing, a pilot has to submit the flight report and note down any mechanical difficulties he may have faced. This helps the upkeep of an aircraft.
How do I get there?
Becoming a pilot requires special technical training at various levels. In brief, the first level is Student Pilot License (SPL), which allows the student to learn. To get a SPL, you need to appear in a theoretical exam which covers papers in Air Regulations, Air Navigation, Aviation Meteorology, Aircraft and Engines. Eligibility is 10+2 with Mathematics and Physics. You also need to clear a strict physical examination.
Dr Vibha Gupta, a feature writer, is a Ph.D. in Mathematics from IIT Roorkee. Her book Careers: A Pathfinder and articles in various publications are an attempt to guide students in choosing a career according to their natural strengths, talents and skills.