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How To Become A Pilot In Indian Air Force

Through this blog, you’ll get a detailed guide on how to join Indian Air Force.

August 04, 2022

By Coaching Select


Bachelor’s Degree

An airline pilot requires a bachelor’s degree in any subject, whereas a commercial pilot usually needs a high school diploma or equivalent. Some of the flight schools are part of 2-4 year colleges/universities offering the desired aviation or aeronautics degree, approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

graduation is required for CDSE, NCC Special Entry and AFCAT. However, 10+2 is required for NDA. While coming to the age limit, 20 to 24 years (at the time of commencement of course) is required for CDSE, NCC Special Entry and AFCAT. However, 16 ½ to 19 ½ years for NDA.

  • Combined Defence Services Examination (CDSE) The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the Combined Defence Services Examination (CDSE) twice a year for recruitment into the Indian Military Academy, Officers Training Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Indian Air Force Academy. After qualifying the exam, one has to undergo training to get a Permanent Commission. Candidates have to satisfy all the eligibility requirements set by UPSC to appear for the examination. Graduates (three-year course) in any discipline from a recognised university (with physics and mathematics at 10+2 level)/ BE/ B Tech (four-year course) is required. There is no percentage bar for CDS entry and only men are eligible to take this exam. UPSC releases the advertisement for CDS in the months of November and August.
  • NCC Special Entry Both men and women are eligible for this special entry where they will be given 'Permanent Commission Officers' post. With an Air Wing Senior Division 'C' Certificate holder of the National Cadet Corps, one can apply to the Flying Branch of the Indian Air Force. Permanent Commission is offered for men while Short Service Commission is for men and women. The recruitment will be done through the Directorate General National Cadet Corps or through the respective NCC Air Squadrons. Graduates (three year course)/ BE/B Tech (four-year course) in any discipline from a recognised university with minimum 60% marks or equivalent is required. The advertisement for NCC special entry is released by the IAF in the months of June and December.
  • Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT) Candidates can apply through Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT) for Short Service Commission (SSC) in the Flying Branch. The Short Service Commission in Flying branch is for 14 years and there will be no further extension. Candidates with a minimum of 60% mark each in maths & physics at 10+2 level is required. Graduates (three-year course)/ BE/B Tech (four-year course) in any discipline from a recognised university with minimum 60% marks or equivalent is also required. The advertisements for AFCAT are released by the IAF in the months of June and December.
  • Through NDA Exam: In India, the coveted NDA exam is a golden opportunity for those who want to become a pilot after the 12th. Upon completing the 3 years long course, you also have to attend flying training. Thereafter, you will work as a permanent commission officer.

Appear For the Written Examinations

The first step of your dream to join Indian Air force is to give the prospective written examination which you can fulfil the eligibility criteria for. We have elaborated the different entrance exams specified for those aspiring for Indian Air Force in the following paragraphs:

National Defence Academy

The NDA Exam is conducted twice a year by the Union of Public Service Commission (UPSC) and can be your gateway to join Indian Air Force after class 12th. Once the candidates qualify the exam, they are provided with an option to choose any of the three armed forces i.e., Army, Navy or Air Force. Candidates will be assessed through two stages, first being the written examination and then the SSB (Service Selection Board) interview. Let’s take a look at the eligibility and NDA exam pattern elucidated in the following table:


Students must have qualified class 12th;
only unmarried males candidates falling the
age gap of 16 ½ to 19 ½ can apply

Exam Pattern

NDA is an objective exam with a total of
900 marks. There will be 2 sections:
mathematics and general ability test.

Combined Defence Services

Many of us often get allured about serving the country while pursuing a bachelor’s degree but you might feel clueless about how to join the Indian Army after graduating. For such aspirants, the best entry ticket is to qualify the CDS exam. Similar to NDA, the CDS also selects candidates for all the three forces and they are given a choice to opt for their desired force. Just as NDA, CDS is also held twice a year and is divided into 2 stages and qualifying both of them would be compulsory for the aspirants. Those who clear the exam will have to qualify the final interview by SSB. The table mentioned below provides a brief glimpse about the CDS Exam Pattern and its eligibility:

Eligibility Criteria

Undergraduate degree, only for unmarried male candidates

Exam Pattern

The exam consists of 3 sections like
English, General Knowledge, Elementary Mathematics

Air Force Commission Test (AFCAT)

The undergraduates wanting to enter esteemed positions of the Indian Air Force can also appear for the AFCAT (Air Force Commission Test). Falling amongst one of the most prestigious government exams after 12th science, through AFCAT exam you can be recruited for the class-1 gazetted post in Ground Flying Duties (non-technical and technical). The exam is held twice a year and both male and female candidates can apply for it. Although the set eligibility criteria differ for one position to another, let’s take a look into the entry requisites and exam details to know more about how to join Indian Air Force:

Eligibility Criteria

Bachelor’s degree
(disciplines differs for technical and
non-technical branches)

AFCAT Exam Pattern

4 major sections like Verbal and Numerical
Ability, General Awareness and Military Aptitude

[Bonus] National Cadet Corps

The young and passionate individuals who possess a certification under the NCC at school or college level can also manifest their dream of acquiring a prestigious post under the Indian Air Force. NCC is one special entry ticket under the process of how to join Indian Air Force. The cadets do not have to appear in a written examination and just have to qualify the SSB interview. Candidates must keep in mind that they must have authorized certification issued by the official authorities of Indian Govt. for the particulars entry position (technical/non-technical). Moreover, it is necessary for both male and female candidates to have a bachelor’s degree (in the discipline specified).

Clear Stage I & II of Air Force Selection Board (AFSB)

Once the aspirants get shortlisted through any of the above-mentioned entry gateways, they will receive a call letter from the official authorities. Afterwards, the candidates will have to assemble at the AFSB centres. To completely evaluate your skills to fulfil the role of an Airways Officer, candidates have to go through two tests such as:

Stage I Testing

  • Officer Intelligence rating test
  • Picture perception and Discussion Test

Stage II Testing

  • Psychological Test
  • Group tests involving outdoor and indoor activity
  • Interview
  • Those applying for Flying Branch have to qualify Computerised Pilot Selection System

Give Medical Examination

  • In the process, they will be closely observed making sure that the aspirants meet every set criteria of the medical requirements.
  • Your centre for the medical evaluation will be either the Air Force Central Medical Establishment, Delhi or the Institute of Aviation Medicines, Bengaluru.

A merit list of all the selected candidates is prepared by the officials. They are closely evaluated on all of the above-mentioned parameters, be it medical examination, interview or written test.


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