Friday, 18 July 2014

Commercial Pilot training in India

Pilot Training / September 2, 2021

Interesting question and one that needs to be addressed accurately once and for all. My Commercial License is around 7 years old and costs haven't changed all that much since then. I remember how many student pilots back then (especially small town and tier 3 city boys and girls) were completely clueless about the hidden costs that not many people would tell you about.

Here's hoping this answer addresses all these areas once and for all.

Your CPL costs can be roughly divided into 6 areas assuming you do it all in India:

1. Cost of flying (Including Single and Multi Engine Rating)
2. Cost of ground studies and examinations
3. Cost of Auxiliary documents like Medicals and RTR(A) license
4. Cost of living
5. Cost of renewing your Instrument Rating (Recurrent every 1 year)
6. Cost of Type Rating (The most important, and often ignored cost)

Let's address these areas one by one:

1. Cost of Flying (Approximately - 20.5 lacs to 22 lacs)

The cheapest flying club in India today will cost around Rs. 9000 an hour to fly a single engine aircraft (Cessna 152 / 172). Assuming you do 200 single engine hours your total single engine cost is Rs. 18, 00, 000 (Eighteen Lacs). Multi engine flying in India costs around Rs. 25, 000 per hour and a full multi engine rating costs anywhere between Rs. 250, 000 to Rs. 400, 000. (Two lac fifty thousand to Four Lac rupees)

Its safe to add around Rs. 5, 000 - 10, 000 towards flying school / club registration charges, cockpit checks and SPL / FRTOL charges which are documents required prior to joining the flying school / club.

2. Cost of Ground Studies and Examinations (Approximately 1.5 lacs to 2.25 lacs)

A pure Indian CPL holder is required to clear 5 examinations with the DGCA, namely Navigation, Meteorology, Technical - General, Technical Specific and Regulations. Most reputed ground schools offer a full training package that costs around Rs. 150, 000 to Rs. 200, 000 for all subjects. The good news is that most of these schools offer a 'study till you pass' policy which means you do not need to pay again in case you do not clear and can indefinitely attend classes. Most average cases clear all papers within 2 - 3 attempts per paper.

One must note that DGCA charges Rs. 2, 500 per CPL examination. Back in 2007 - 08, this was Rs. 500 per paper.

Cost of Issue of a CPL / PPL / FRTOL is approximately Rs. 25, 000.

3. Cost of Medicals / RTR Examination (Rs. 6000 to Rs. 12, 000 for documentation / & Rs. 15, 000 to Rs. 40, 000 for ground studies)

You may choose to start with Class II medicals for issue of an SPL and FRTOL followed by a Class I medical sometime during your training and before CPL application. Both Class I and Class II medicals hover around Rs. 1000 to 2000 depending on where you get them done. Note, in case you live in a place where many pilots apply for medical dates throughout the year, you may be required to travel for your medicals which is an additional cost.

An RTR(A) or RTR(C) license is required for issue of an unrestricted FRTOL from DGCA. This document requires ground studies that may cost anywhere between Rs. 15, 000 to Rs. 40, 000 depending on the examiner. The exam itself which is conducted by WPC costs Rs. 500 per attempt and requires traveling to Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata or Hyderabad depending on the attempt dates. Issue of an RTR license from WPC costs either Rs.5, 000 for a 20 year license or Rs. 10, 000 for a lifetime license.

4. Cost of Living (Variable)

No matter where you do your CPL from, you are going to be faced with living costs. Some flying clubs offer hosted accommodation free of charge, but from the little that I've heard, it's often sub-standard. What it costs to live while you do your CPL really comes down to personal lifestyles. I had batch mates living in the hostel taking the flying club bus to ones living in hotels and maintaining a car for the entire duration of their training which could be anywhere between 18 - 36 months.