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How to Become Air Force Pilot

Update on 2024-04-15

How to Become Air Force Pilot - Check Step to Become Air Force Pilot

An air force pilot is the personnel of the Indian air armed forces who undergo much training for learning relevant skills in order to fly aircraft like tankers, fighter jets, conduct flight operations, train as well as lead the flight crews, etc.
Acquiring a career as an Air Force Pilot is extremely vital for those who aspire to join the Air Force and shine as a pilot. There are various processes involved in becoming an airforce pilot. Therefore, the candidates who aspire to become an air force pilot must be well acquainted with the eligibility criteria, the respective procedure involved, and the other aspects associated with it.

How to Become Air Force Pilot?

The candidates can appear for the exams like NDA, CDSE, AFCAT, etc. with a vision to qualify for the respective exams and become a pilot subsequently. A candidate must be well versed with the diverse criteria owing a substantial contribution to the air force exam and follow the respective preparation accordingly.

The information and details present in this article will answer your queries regarding the question of how to become an Air force pilot in India.

About Indian Air Force:

The Indian air force was established on the 8th of October 1932 which was the auxiliary air force of the British empire. The air arm of the armed forces of India is ranked 4th among the air forces of the world. After 1947, when India gained Independence from the United Kingdom, the name Royal Indian air force was given to the armed wing of the Indian armed forces.

But soon in 1950 after the transition of the government to a republic, the name was changed to Indian air force by removing the prefix republic.

There has been no specific estimate with respect to the number of personnel. According to the estimation of, there were a total of 110,000 personnel (active) in 1994. This data changed in the IISS publication of 2010, where James Hackett estimated that there were a total of 127,000 personnel in the Indian air force.

According to the data of July 2024, the Indian air force consists of the estimated strength of 12,550 officers and 142,529 airmen.

The rank structure in the Indian air force is also determined on the basis of the Royal air force. The highest rank comprises the marshal of the Indian air force that is conferred by the president of India and the head of the Indian air force is headed with the rank of Air Chief Marshal. This article carefully to know complete details on "How to become Air Force Pilot".

Eligibility and Qualification for Becoming Air Force Pilot:

The different criteria for the eligibility and educational qualification of the candidate are given below:

Eligibility Criteria: The primary eligibility criteria for becoming an Indian Air Force Pilot is that the candidate is required to be an Indian by Nationality.

Educational Qualification: The qualification criteria for the Indian air force pilot require the candidates to be either appearing or should have passed the class 12th exam with Mathematics and Physics in order to appear for the NDA exam.

Those candidates who intend to appear for the NCC special entry, CDSE, and AFCAT, must hold a graduate degree. Candidates with an engineering degree can apply for the CDS exam.

Age Limit: The Indian air force pilot age requirement for the candidates aspiring to appear for the National Defence Academy (NDA) Exam is required to be between 16.5 to 19 years.

The age limit of those candidates who aspire to appear for the NCC special entry, CDSE, and AFCAT, lies between 20 to 24 years.

How to Become Air Force Pilot: Comprehensive Details

The candidate intending to become an Indian air force pilot can primarily make 4 approaches to finding an answer to how to become an Air force pilot. Therefore, the points are given below consist of the steps involved in appearing for the Indian air force pilot exam

Step 1- The candidate is required to have completed the senior secondary education (class 12th) with Physics and Mathematics as the compulsory subjects. 

Step 2- The nationality of the candidate is required to be Indian. 

Step 3- The candidate is required to be good at physical and mental health in order to be selected as the Indian air force pilot. 

Step 4- Height and weight requirement for air force pilot

  • The minimum height required (minimum, correlated) is 162.5 cm 
  • The minimum leg length is 99 cm and the maximum is 120 cm.
  • The thigh Length is 64 cm.
  • The minimum sitting height is 81.5 cm and the maximum is 96 cm. 

Step 5- There should be no case of

  • Functional or organic disease of blood vessels or heart problems.
  • Hearing problem
  • Past disease related to ear, nose, eyes, etc. 
  • Any cases related to blood pressure
  • Overweight or bodily defects
  • Underdeveloped muscles of the abdomen
  • Disease-related to the internal organs

Step 6- After being assured of all these aspects, prepare rigorously according to the syllabus of the entrance exam (NDA, CDS, etc.) in order to perform substantially and acquire a seat as per the selection process. 

Step 7- Apply for the entrance exam for becoming an airforce pilot, within the stipulated time of application. 

Entrance Exams for Air Force Pilot:

Through NDA Exam: The candidates aspiring to become an Indian air force pilot can appear in the NDA exam conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) after completing their senior secondary education (class 12th). After qualifying for the NDA exam, they are required to undergo 3-year training at the national defense Academy.

After this training, the candidate undergoes flying training at the air force training establishment. At the completion of the respective training, the candidate can be posted as an Indian air force pilot at any of the air force station stations in India or can also be commissioned as a permanent commission officer. 

Through CDS Exam: The candidates aspiring to become air force pilots can also appear for the Combined Defence Service CDS Exam which is also conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. The candidates can be eligible for admission to the Indian air force academy after qualifying for the CDS exam.

After getting trained at the air force academy for a stipulated period of time, the candidate can be posted to any of the air force stations as an Indian air force pilot or permanent commission officer. 

Through NCC (National Cadet Corps) Special Entry: The candidates who have acquired an air wing senior division C certificate can become eligible to apply for the National Cadet Corps (NCC) special entry. The respective candidate can join through the directorate general national cadet corps or through the NCC air squadrons.

In the special entry case where the candidate appears for becoming a pilot through the NCC exam, the candidate is commissioned as a permanent commission officer. These candidates have the benefit of applying for the SSB interview instead of writing any exam for becoming an Indian air force pilot. 

Through Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT): The candidates (both male and female) can apply for the AFCAT exam. The test is conducted by Indian Air Force for admission to the Short Service Commission for a time duration of 14 years and the frequency of the exam is twice a year. The candidates applying for this course can be hired on the technical as well as ground duty branches. 

How to Become an Air force Pilot After 10th?

There is no exam conducted for the students who want to become a pilot after completing their class 10th as the minimum eligibility for becoming an air force pilot requires the students to have completed their class 12th.

Such students who look for some immediate opportunities with respect to becoming a pilot right after completing the senior secondary education (class 10th) can choose considerable subjects in their class 12th that can lead them to become a pilot.

The candidate should take science in their class 10th consisting of the subjects like Physics, Chemistry, and Maths. Meanwhile, they can study for the preparation of the respective exam (like NDA, CDSE, etc.) they want to appear in for becoming an air force pilot. Two years of substantial preparation during senior secondary education will ensure a good performance in the candidate’s exam for becoming a pilot. 

How to Become Air Force Pilot After the 12th?

The candidates who aspire to become an Indian air force pilot after 12th are required to have pursued senior secondary education (class 12th) by taking subjects like physics and maths.

After completing their class 12th, they can appear for the NDA exam which is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to test the primary election of the candidates to be a part of the Indian air force. They can also appear for the NDA exam while appearing for the plus two exams. 

The candidates qualifying for the entrance exam are then required to go through the 4-day SSB selection process. The selection process takes place at the service selection board that is situated at various places. The selection of the candidates is done on the parameters of group activities, physical tests, interviews, etc. 

Those candidates who clear all the 3 stages of the SSB interview are subsequently ranked with respect to their merit. These selected candidates are required to undergo 3 years of training at the national defense academy (NDA). This training period is followed by a 1 year of flying training air force academy (AFA).

After the completion of the training, the candidates are awarded with the respective wing and eventually become an air force pilot or an Indian air force officer. 

Indian Air Force Pilot Salary:

The salary of an Indian air force pilot lies basically at around Rs 1,20,000 per month which extends towards around INR 20,00,000 per annum as a senior-level salary. Many candidates aspiring to become an air force pilot often end up finding an answer to do air force pilots make good money.

By getting acquainted with the starting salary of the Indian air force pilot, they can serve the purpose of this question. The starting salary of an air force pilot lies at around Rs 80,000

Benefits of Becoming an Air Force Pilot:

The candidates joining the Indian Air Force can avail numerous benefits covering the range of facilities from housing, medical, education, loans, etc. The allowances offered to the Indian Air Force personnel can aid them substantially at remaining benefited in a number of aspects.

Here are some of the points consisting of the benefits of the Indian Air Force:

Medical Benefits: Air force personnel have very significant access to medical facilities for themselves and their families. The treatment of the air force personnel and their families is not only accessible at the air force hospital (or other armed forces hospital) but they also have tie-ups with various civil hospitals for any particular treatment.

It is not just about the treatment but they are also provided grants on several medical types of equipment as well as other kinds of respective purchases in order to ensure significant medical aid. 

Insurance Benefits: Under the Air Force Group Insurance Scheme (AFGIS), the air force personnel are provided significant aid for providing life insurance. According to this scheme, the personnel will be supposed to pay a very less contribution amount with the insurance facilitating to cover the maximum eventualities of life.

An Air Force officer can avail of the insurance amount of Rs 75 lakh with respect to the insurance taken, whereas the air force pilot can take an extra amount of Rs 10 lakh as an additional insurance cover. 

Educational Benefits:

Life after joining the Indian air force in itself is a learning process comprising a number of skills and in-service courses being a part of the educational avenues. The educational provisions at the Indian Air Force consist of:

  • Sponsoring the master’s courses (M.Tech. courses) for the technical branch officers through the various institutes such as IITs, BHU-IT, etc. 
  • The Indian air force also gives a provision of study leaves to the air force personnel for a period of 24 months which can also be extended to a 28 months period sometimes. 
  • It also facilitates the provision of distance education through universities such as IGNOU, in order to equip the air force personnel with a diverse academic background as well. 

Post-Retirement Support: The air force personnel’s post-retirement benefits consist of the pension given to the air force personnel which helps them in taking care of the family after their retirement. The personnel is also aided with the help of Insurance covering up to 72 years of age that involved a minimal contribution during the year of service. 

Post-Retirement Medical Support: The post-retirement medical support of the air force personnel is ensured by the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS). Under this scheme, the personnel is supposed to provide a one-time minimum contribution in order to gain cashless treatment for a family in the ECHS polyclinics as well as some of the other hospitals like Fortis, Apollo, Artemis, etc. with the provision of private words. 

Other Substantial Facilities: Apart from the primary facilities offered to the various personnel of the Indian Air Force, there are some of the other facilities such as leave concessions, accommodation, CSD benefits, 60 days of annual and 20 days of casual leave every year, travel benefits, rations, rail concessions, etc. 

Post-Retirement Placement Aid: The placement cell of the Indian air force makes sure to provide placement assistance to the retired personnel who want to stay involved in some of the other products field.

Points to Remember to Becoming an Air Force Pilot:

There are a number of essential points you need to consider and abide by if you have the vision to become an air force pilot.

Here are some of the respective points that the aspiring candidates must keep in mind:

  • The candidate should be free from any kind of history related to a mental breakdown, fits, etc. as well as disease-related to bones and joints.
  • The candidate should have normal blood pressure as well as normal hearing with no evidence of the defect in the nose, throat, ears, etc. Any kind of defect or disability detected in the skin, urine (as per the urine examination done), vision (examination of vision will also be done), enlargement of the liver or defected internal organs, etc. can cause rejection of the candidate. 
  • It is essential for the candidates to have a sufficient number of teeth. At least 14 dental points are required for the candidate to qualify for the eligibility criteria. 
  • The psychological tests are conducted to test the physical active participation of the candidate in the indoor as well as outdoor test. 
  • The Pilot aptitude battery test is aimed towards the assessment of the candidate’s aptitude with respect to various factors such as the presence of mind, mental alertness, self-confidence, etc. The test assesses the ability of the students to read and interpret the dials of the instrument panel present in the aircraft. 


Having a career as an air force pilot can bring diverse benefits to a student who is intending to make one. There are several questions that might hover a student with respect to finding an answer to how to become an Air force pilot in India. Many students often look for significant opportunities after their secondary or senior secondary education to become a pilot.

There are a number of questions with respect to becoming a pilot that might confuse the students aspiring to become one.

In the article given above, we have tried to cover all the aspects which can make a significant contribution regarding answering your question on how to become an Air force pilot. The students who have been looking for a substantial opportunity in order to make their career as a pilot can refer to this article in order to get acquainted with the specific aspect related to the Indian air force.

The students can also refer to the difference between NDA and CDS exams to get a clear insight into the personnel of the field and various aspects associated with it.

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