How to Become a Freelance Pilot

One can do anything as a freelancer as long as it is achievable and well accepted in real life—even if it is being a pilot. Today we are going to talk about freelance pilots and how to become one. There are certain fundamental factors which determine one’s career as a freelance pilot, and it is essential on your part to study them carefully and implement them. Once you have followed the rules and become a freelance pilot, there is hardly any dearth of opportunities and money for you.

Here are four important elements involved in the making of a freelance pilot:

1. Educational qualifications required to become a freelance pilot

Commercial pilots are among the highest earning individuals in the country and beyond. Despite the reputation and a number of money pilots earn, there is a palpable dearth of pilots in the country, and this makes the career prospects of a freelance pilot all the more bright. However, there is a caveat: it is not that simple to become a commercial pilot, and before actually venturing into this field, you will have to obtain a certain level of formal education and training.

So, what are those qualifications? Read below to know more:

  • In order to become a pilot, you must have in possession a Student Pilot License (SPL). To obtain the SPL, candidates who opted for Science in 10+2 and aged minimum 16 years are eligible to seek registration. The registration can be sought at a flying club duly recognized by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Government of India.
  • The registration process includes security clearance, bank guarantee, and a medical certificate. Following the registration, an oral examination is organized covering subjects such as Aviation Meteorology, Air Regulations, Air Navigation etc. Only upon the successful completion of the examination do the candidates get formally registered and entitled to an SPL certificate.
  • Now comes the second step: Obtaining a Private Pilot Licence (also known as PPL). The candidate undergoes a rigorous training schedule which includes 60-hour flying of which 15 hours are dual flights, minimum 30 hours of individual flights, 5 hours of cross-border flight, etc. Once the training is done, you sit for the examination which comprises questions on Aviation Meteorology, Air Regulation, Aircraft Engines, Seamanship and Air Navigation. For this, the minimum age requirement is 17 years and the completion of 10+2 coupled with a medical fitness certificate (which the Armed Forces Central Medical Establishment issues).
  • The final task is becoming a commercial pilot. This task can only be achieved upon successfully obtaining For securing a Commercial Pilots Licence (CPL), the candidate is required to undertake 250 hours of flying (which includes about 60 hours for the PPL). Apart from this, you are required to go through a medical examination conducted in New Delhi as well as an examination comprising Air Regulations, Air Navigation, Planning, Radio Communications, Wireless Transmission, Technical, and Aviation Meteorology. Once you have qualified the examination, you are bestowed with a shimmering CPL certificate entitling you to fly an aircraft for commercial purposes.
  • Some schools from which training can be sought are Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh Flying Club, School of Aviation Science and Technology, New Delhi, Assam Flying Club, Bihar Flying Institute, Government Flying Club, Lucknow, Karnal Aviation Club, Andhra Pradesh Flying Club Hyderabad Airport.

2. Skills necessary in a freelance pilot

As a pilot, the following skills must be necessarily present:

  • Decision-making: Pilots must be quick enough to decide rationally. When you are flying an aircraft, there are many circumstantial constraints restricting the free flow of thinking such as stress, and these constraints often force us to take quick decisions. In this decision-making process, the pilot must be able to undertake adequate resource management and reduce negative outcomes to the minimum extent possible. For example, when the aircraft suffers from untoward malfunctioning in the system, you should be quick enough to recognize the issue, contact the control office and make a call for an urgent landing. If you are not able to think through, you may cause casualties—a burden you will not want to take along with you to the grave.
  • Ability to adjust and adapt: Pilots follow a strict code of conduct for the regulation of bodies and all. There are rules and regulations released by the Aviation ministry which serve as rudimentary operating rules for flying an airplane within India.
    Apart from these rules, there are manuals which guide pilots during flight and after. These manuals are drafted to ensure the safety of those on board, and may at times be too stringent. You, as a pilot, must be amenable to the rules and adjust accordingly.
    At times, you may come across a situation where following a protocol will lead you to a critical situation, then you may break the protocol and do what is right—but this is allowed only under exceptional circumstances.
  • Analytical and creative thinking: Flying is a skill with which are critical and creative thinking invariably associated. Pilots must know when to follow protocols, when to ditch them, how to go about a certain crisis, etc. If you are not analytical, you will commit folly.
  • Emotional stability: You cannot be swayed away by emotional turbulences. If you are feeling uneasy, report immediately but do not risk the lives of others on board. One cannot fly with an uneasy head, and that is the reason why a medical examination is an imperative part of the selection procedure.
  • Stamina: You are flying an aircraft, and for something as heavy and big as that, you need extraordinary stamina. You are required to keep your body and mind healthy through a nutritious mode of living and build up a phenomenal stamina.
  • Technically sound: You should be acquainted with the functionality of each and every equipment fitted into the aircraft. Whether it is a helicopter or an airplane, you should be well-versed with the technicalities. This skill becomes really handy during emergencies, and it is, therefore, emphasized that you pay special attention to it.

3. Where can freelance pilots work?

  • As a freelance pilot, you can work with private agencies providing flying facilities as part of their recreational services such as resorts and hotels.
  • You may join the airline industry of the country through a formal application to the Airport Authority.
  • There are many other options available to freelance pilots, but to explore them, you need to put in some hard work. If you want this work to lighten up, you can seek help from online freelance websites such as freelance.com, linkedin.com, upwork.com, worknhire.com, etc. These websites provide a common platform for both freelance pilots and clients to work together.
  • To become part of this online freelance community, you will have to create a profile, update a portfolio of relevant skills and submit applications. While submitting the application, drop a proposal stating why you are best for the job offered.

4. Pay rate of freelance pilots

The pay scale will depend upon a number of factors such as skills, qualifications, and experience. If you are an experienced freelance pilot, you may earn as much as 7 lacs for 90 hours of flying. If you are starting afresh in the aviation industry, you will earn around 1 lac or more. The pay scale will vary with the agency you work with.