Flying high

PATHFINDER

Flying high

Every year, the Indian Air Force conducts the annual air show in several cities across India. Most of us who visit the air show or see those awesome metal birds in action dream of being in the cockpit. If you have a love for flying, there’s a challenging career awaiting you in the Indian Air Force, which is the fourth largest air force in the world.
There are basically two entry points into the Indian Air Force — Officer Entry and Airman Entry. The Airman selection is done for Personnel Below Officer Rank (PBOR).

The Officer Entry is for 3 branches — Flying Branch, Technical Branch (only for engineering graduates) and Ground Duty Branch. One can become an Air Force Officer by clearing the required exams and test after:

* 10+2
* Graduation (must have studied Physics & Mathematics in Class 12)
 Engineering
* Post Graduation (must have studied Physics & Mathematics at the UG level)

Entry level 1

After 10+2
* For Flying Officers (after 10+2) through the NDA exam
The National Defense Academy (NDA) exam and the Naval Academy (NA) exam are conducted twice a year by UPSC. The notification for NDA & NA Exam 1 is issued in October and the exam is held the following April. The notification for NDA & NA Exam 2 is issued in March and the exam is held in August, in the same year.

Eligibility: Only for male candidates. Pass in 10+2 with Physics and Mathematics.
Age Limit: 16 ½ to 19 years.

Once a candidate successfully clears the NDA exam, he will have to take the Pilot Aptitude Battery Test (PABT) to check his aptitude as a pilot. After clearing this test, the candidate will undergo the common selection procedure (which is common for all branches of IAF).

The next stage is the medical exam which will conducted if the selection board so recommends. On the basis of the medical examination and the selection procedure, a merit list is prepared by the Air Force Headquarters. Those whose names appear on the merit list join NDA. The rigorous three-year training at NDA includes flying training in the final semester. After this the NDA graduate is given training in various Indian Air Training establishments and thereafter commissioned as an officer and posted as a pilot at any of the air force stations.

Entry level 2:

After Graduation
* Flying Branch/ Flying Pilot (After Graduation)
Eligibility: Unmarried Indian citizens (both men and women) for Short Service Commission.

Only men for entry through Combined Medical Services Exam.

Age Limit: 19-23 years.
Education: Graduates in any discipline including B.E/B.Tech  who have attained First class (min 60 per cent aggregate). Candidates must have passed Maths and Physics at 10+2 level through regular schooling. Final year/ semester students may also apply provided they do not have any backlog.

Joining & Selection Process: Option 1: Through the Combined Defense Services Exam conducted in January after completion of Graduation.

Option 2: National Cadet Corps Special Entry (Through CO NCC Unit / DG NCC ).
Only men with Air Wing Senior division ‘C’ Certificate of the National Cadet Corps can apply and will be given Permanent Commission.

Option 3: Flying (Pilot) Short Service Commission (for men & women) with Term of Engagement of 14 years with no further extension. Notifications are issued in Employment News and leading Indian newspaper during March/September every year.
In all 3 options, after successfully passing the exam the candidates must take the Pilot Aptitude Battery Test (PABT), then undergo the common selection procedure and medical examination before being commissioned as officers and posted as pilots at any of the air force stations.

The Pilot Aptitude Battery Test (PABT) has two stages. Stage 1 consists of Intelligence Test and Picture Perception & Discussion Test. This is a screening test and those who qualify go on to Stage 2 testing the following day.  Stage 2 testing consists of Psychological Test, Group Test and Interview.

Courses for flying officers
A number of training programmes are offered to help officers gain proficiency as  pilots and tackle more responsibility. Some of the programmes include:

* Ab-Initio Pilots Course (Common for Fighter, Transport and Helicopter streams)
* Transport Conversion Course
* Qualified Flying Instructors Course
* Test Pilot Course
* Flight Test Engineer Course (Fixed/ Rotary Wing/ Avionics/ Instrumentation)
* Pilot Attack Instructors Course
* Fighter Combat Leader Course

Ground Duty Branch Officer The Indian Air Force has valuable human and material resources. In order to ensure the best utilisation of these resources, there is a separate ground duty branch in the Indian Air Force.

Ground Duty (for men & women) have Short Service Commission and Permanent Commission options.

* Administration
1. Air Traffic Controller: Involves maintaining an orderly flow of traffic and airspace management.

2. Fighter Controller: Responsible for close contact and supervision between the air and radar for effective airspace management.

Age Limit: 20-23 years for Graduates; 20-25 years for Post Graduates
Education: Graduate with 60 per cent aggregate or PG with 50 per cent aggregate.

* Accounts
Age Limit: 20-23 years for Graduates; 20-25 years for PG.
Education: Graduate in Commerce with 60 per cent aggregate; PG in Commerce with 50 per cent aggregate; CA/ ICWA with 50 per cent.

* Logistics
Age Limit: 20-23 years for Graduates; 20-25 years for PG.

Education: Graduate with 60 per cent aggregate; PG with 50 per cent aggregate.

* Education
Age Limit: 20-25 years for PG; 20-27 for M.Ed & Ph.D
Education: PG with 50 per cent aggregate in English/ Psychology/ Defence Studies/ Mathematics/ Physics/ Statistics/ Computer Science/ Management; M.Ed after PG or Ph.D in any of the subjects mentioned above.

*Meteorology
Age Limit: 20-25 years.

Education: PG with 50 per cent aggregate in Science/ Geography/ MCA (With Mathematics and Physics at Graduation level).

Technical Branch Officer

The Technical Branch of the Indian Air Force is divided into Aeronautical Engineer (Electronics) & Aeronautical Engineer (Mechanical). The selection to both the streams is done either through Direct Entry or University Entry.

* Direct Entry: Short Service Commission (for men & women) & Permanent Commission (only for men). Notification is issued in February and August every year.

For Aeronautical Engineering (Electronics), the age limit is 18-28 years.

Education: Min 60 per cent aggregate in B.E/ B.Tech in Electronics/ Telecommunication/ Electrical/ Communication/ Electronics & Communication/ Instrumentation/ Information Technology/ Computer Science & Engineering or a combination of these subjects; Diploma in Electronics from Madras Institute of Technology; B.Tech in Radio Physics & Electronics/ Optics and Opto Electronics; M.Sc in Physics (with Electronics)/ Electronics/ Computer Science/ Computer Applications; MCA with Maths, Physics and Electronics at Graduation level; M.Sc Tech in Electronics & Radio Engineering; Section A&B Examination of the Associate Membership Examination of the Institution of Engineers (India) in Electrical, Electronics or Telecommunication; Graduate Membership Examination of the Institute of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers with subjects of Section A & full subjects of Section B by actual studies (Maths, Applied Electronics and Circuits, Principles of Communication Engineering, Transmission lines and Networks) or Section A & B of Examination of Aeronautical Society of India by Actual Studies in Avionics/ Communication.

For Aeronautical Engineering (Mechanical), the age limit is 18-28 years.

Education: B.E/ B.Tech in Aeronautical/ Mechanical/ Production/ Industrial Production or a combination of these subjects; Section A & B of Associate Membership Examination of Institution of Engineering (India) with Mechanical/ Aeronautical subjects by actual studies; Section A & B of Associate Membership Examination of the Aeronautical Society of India with Group I (Design and Production) or Group II (Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul) subjects by actual studies.

* University Entry Scheme (UES): Permanent Commission
Eligibility: Only unmarried men need apply.

Education: The candidate must be currently studying in pre-final year of B.E/B.Tech in the relevant streams of engineering as mentioned above and must have secured minimum of 60 per cent aggregate up to the last semester for which results have been declared at the time of applying/ AFSB testing. There must be no backlog. 

For more details, log on to:  www.careerairforce.nic.in
(The writer is a Career Counsellor & Director of CIGMA India.)

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