Want to be pilot like Tom Cruise in movie Top gun?

Want to be pilot like Tom Cruise in movie Top gun? where he dodges the missiles, do the the 360 degree turnover and enjoys the adventurous and dangerous flights? But you don’t know how to be like one? You are at right place as we are here to guide you on “ How to become a pilot in iAF”.
When we were kid we used to say that we will become pilot on growing up but very less people really mean it and pursue their dream in the age of money market.



First of all you should know that Indian Air Force has three branches
1. Ground branch
2. Technical branch
3. Flying branch

To be a pilot you have to be in flying branch.

The Flying branch has 4 categories of aircraft flyers

1.Fighter and fighter bombers

Pilots usually specialize in one type of aircraft. The navigators fly in transport and bomber aircrafts only. They assist the Pilots in navigation Pilots are employed exclusively in flying duties, however, they may also lie assigned other duties. Fighter Pilots are trained in air fights to shoot down enemy aircraft and attack ground targets in enemy territory. They fly at 2 to 2.5 times the speed of sound. Fighter bombers can match this speed today. Bombers drop bombs, missiles and other explosives on enemy targets. They are equipped with electronic devices, radars and cameras for pinpoint bombing and target acquisition. Navigators in these aircrafts direct Pilots to the site by navigational equipments, radars and other optical devices and release the bombs.
Transport Pilots carry men, material and explosives at required places. They also carry army personnel, their weapons, guns and light vehicles from one theatre of war to another. Navigators in these aircrafts chart the route, supervise loading of men and equipment, work out fuel requirements and check the flight path with maps during the flight.
Helicopters are used for carrying personnel and material including hardware and ration to those places and heights and terrains where it is not possible to make an airfield or road but a helipad can be made. Helicopters are used to support both Air force and Army and if needed even Navy as it can land on the ship’s deck.

There are two ways to get in to IAF

1. NDA
2. CDS



Eligibility Criteria

To join the NDA you need to fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Educational Qualification

To be eligible for joining NDA you should be passed/appeared 10+2 with Physics and Mathematics as subjects.

  1. Age: 16-1/2  years to 19 years
  2. Nationality: Indian
  3. Gender : This is applicable only to men.
  4. Physical Standards

General physical requirements common for all candidates.

  1. You must be in good physical and mental health and free from any disease/ disability, which is likely to interfere with efficient performance of duties. There should be no evidence of weak constitution, bodily defects or overweight.
  2. The height and weight standards for men and women differ.
  3. Your chest should be well developed. The minimum range of expansion after full inspiration should be 5 cm.
  4. There should be no disease of bones and joints of the body.
  5. You should be free of any past history of mental breakdown or fits.
  6. Your hearing should be normal without any evidence of present or past disease of the ear, nose and throat.
  7. There should be no sign of functional or organic disease of the heart and blood vessels. Your blood pressure should also be normal.
  8. The muscles of the abdomen should be well developed without any enlargement of the liver or spleen. Any evidence of disease of internal organs of the abdomen can be a cause for rejection.
  9. An un-operated hernia can make you unfit for selection. If operated, this should have been done at least six months prior to the present examination and healing should be complete without any potential for recurrence.
  10. There should be no hydrocele, varicocele or piles. If operated for hydromel and/or varicocele, this should have been done at least six months prior to the present examination and healing should be complete without any recurrence.
  11. Urine examination will be done and any abnormality, if detected, can be a cause for rejection.
  12. Any disease of the skin, which is likely to cause disability or disfigurement, will also be a cause for rejection.
  13. Vision will be tested. You must have good binocular vision. In case you have undergone or are detected to have undergone Radial Keratotomy, or any other procedure to improve the visual acuity, you will be permanently rejected.
  14. You should have sufficient number of natural and sound teeth. A minimum of 14 dental points will be acceptable. When 32 teeth are present, the total dental points are 22. You should not be suffering from severe pyorrhea.


CDS examination

This mode of entry is preferable for those who have completed their graduation

Eligibility Criteria

To join threw CDSE you need to fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Educational Qualification
  2. First Class Graduation (min 60% aggregate marks) in any discipline (Three Years Course) with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level.
  3. First Class (min 60 % aggregate marks) B.E./B.Tech. (Four years).
  4. Final Year students can also apply, provided they don’t have any backlog and min 60 % aggregate marks in the previous year/ semester.
  5. Age :  19 years to 23 years
  6. Nationality: Indian
  7. Marital Status: Single.

How to be an IAF Pilot 

To become an IAF Pilot one has to follow the below given steps

Step 1 -Scrutiny of Applications

After scrutiny of application for the eligibility-sent by you to the IAF-you will receive a call letter with further instructions.

For seeking entry into the Flying Branch through the NDA or CDSE, your applications need to be sent to UPSC, New Delhi. It conducts a written test twice a year in April & August (NDA) and April & September (CDSE). Advertisements for the examinations are released about six months in advance. Qualifying in these exams take you to step two. If you apply for Short Service Commission Flying (Pilot) or as an NCC Senior Division ‘C’ Certificate holder, your application is processed by Air HQ and call letter issued by AFSBs.


Step 2 -Testing Officer Like Qualities

After successfully clearing Step 1, you will receive a call letter to report to any one of the Air Force Selection Boards located at Dehradun, Varanasi and Mysore. At the Air Force Selection Boards, you undergo a number of psychological tests, an interview and group activities, which are collectively called the Officer Like Qualities (OLQ) Tests. These tests are designed to gauge your potential and suitability as an officer in the Armed Forces.

Short Description of the Test

The Psychological Tests are written tests that are conducted by a Psychologist.
The Group Tests are interactive indoor and outdoor tests. We expect active physical participation from you.
The Interview involves a personal conversation with our Interviewing Officer.

The following is the schedule for OLQ Tests:

Schedule for Flying Branch

  • Day 1Pilot Aptitude Battery Test (Most Important Test)
  • Day 2Phase I & Psychological Tests
  • Day 3Group tests
  • Day 4Group tests Interview
  • Day 5Interview
  • Day 6Conference

Most Important test to become  an IAF Pilot

Pilot Aptitude Battery Test (PABT) is a unique test. It is aimed at assessing a candidate’s aptitude to be trained as a pilot. PABT is being used as an independent selection device to induct potential officers into Flying Branch of Indian Air Force. PABT comprises three tests viz Instrument Battery Test (INSB), Sensory Motor Apparatus Test (SMA) and Control Velocity Test (CVT). Instrument Battery Test (INSB) is a paper pencil test and other two are machine tests. The Instruments Battery Test (INSB) comprises two parts.

This test assesses assimilation of the briefing and the ability of an individual to read and interpret the dials of an instrument panel of an aircraft. The candidates who score the minimum laid down criteria are subjected to the machine test. The machine test includes Sensory Motor Apparatus Test (SMA) and Control Velocity Test (CVT). These tests measure the psychomotor co-ordination skill of the individual. These tests are conducted on a single day and administered only once in life time.

Only those candidates who qualify in Phase I shall be retained at AFSB for further testing of Phase II Those recommended by the AFSBs will require to fill up certain documents at the Boards and subsequently move to the next step.

Step 3 -Conducting of Medical Examinations

IF found suitable by the Selection Board, you would be sent to the Air Force Central Medical Establishment, New Delhi or the Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Bangalore for a thorough medical examination.

Step 4 -Preparing All India Merit List

An All India Merit List is compiled on the basis of your performance at the AFSB and subject to being medically fit. Based on the vacancies available, Air HQ would issue joining instructions to join Air Force Academy for the training of a Pilot.

The Flying branch includes Fighter pilots-the elitist bunch of persons of the Air force who fly combat or fighter planes (like Mirage 2000, MIG 29, MIG 27, Jaguar, MIG 25, MIG 23, sukhoi and MIG 21) carrying ammunition and missiles; Transport pilots who fly planes (like huge IL 76 (Gajraj) and AN 32 ) which carry men and materials, and Helicopter(like MI-17) pilots who provide air support to a moving army, or are used for para-dropping men and supplies. It depends upon your performance in the training which plane you will be flying of after completing your training in the academy.




The Indian Air Force (IAF) conducts the Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT) twice a year (in February and September) for male and female Indian citizens for admission to the following courses commencing in January 2016 for grant of Short Service Commission in Flying Branch and Permanent Commission/ Short Service Commission on Technical braches and Ground duty branches.

Women are granted only Short Service Commission in all the three branches, i.e. flying, technical and ground duty.



BranchesAge LimitPhysical detailsMinimum essential qualification
Flying Branches19-23 yearsHeight 162.5 cmA person who have completed graduation in any discipline with 60% marks and have passed Physics and Maths at 12th level


B.E, B.Tech degree holder with at least 60% marks

Technical Branches18-28 years157.5 cmFour (4) years of graduation degree in Aeronautical Engineering (AE), Mechanical or Electronics branches passed out with 60% marks are eligible to apply
Ground Duty Branches20-27 years157.5Any candidate who have competed graduation with 60% marks and post graduation with 50% marks in any discipline are eligible to apply for Ground Duty Branches


So start preparing right now because “ one today is worth two tomorrows , so live it in the present and utilize it to fullest”

Tushar Luthra

By #TusharLuthra

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