Cadet Pilot Program – Course, Eligibility, Recruitment and Selection Process

What is the Cadet Pilot?

Airlines have come up with a cadet pilot program. Airlines initially conduct several tests to take candidates into the program. The airline then designates the candidate as an ab initio cadet. Then it then sends him to a pre-designated flight training organization for training. The airline inducts the candidate as an ab initio cadet upon completing the training, subject to vacancy availability. The airline establishes guidelines for selecting the candidate as an ab initio cadet and then as a first officer, ensuring the cadet’s preference in selection at the time of vacancy.

In this article, we will look at the process of becoming a cadet pilot in depth. This will allow the candidate to understand the benefits and drawbacks of the cadet pilot program and make an informed decision between it and the standard pilot program. The candidate can find detailed program specifics on the company’s website.

A Basic overview

Application Process for the Cadet Pilot Program 

Candidates need to check the airline’s website, gather the latest information on the application process for the Cadet Pilot Program, and proceed accordingly. Four airlines in India are running cadet pilot programs; they are:

    1. Indigo, the largest Indian carrier, has seven active programs. 

    1. Air India, now under the leadership of Tata, offers superior career growth opportunities.

    1. Vistara, India’s leading full-service airline, has lots of international exposure.

    1. Spicejet.

The airline’s website announces the details of the cadet pilot program. Hence, candidates need to track the details on the company’s digital platforms. The companies’ application form price range starts at INR 10000 and goes up to INR 35000. Airlines charge a higher cost for these applications because of the cost involved with the aptitude software and hardware tests. The company communicates details about the application to the personal email ID of the candidate. Hence, the candidate must have an email- address available beforehand only. 

Eligibility Criteria for the Cadet Pilot Program

Before filling out the form, the candidate should view the airline’s eligibility conditions. Here’s an overview of the criteria used:

Education and English language: The candidate should have cleared senior high school with a minimum of 51% marks and not be below Grade C1 (CBSE). They should be secure in physics, mathematics, and English.

You may apply with an NIOS certification as well, should you not have completed the three subjects in your 10+2. A graduation or diploma degree is not a necessity. Few Cadet pilot programs ask for a higher educational level.

Age: 18 to 35 years old at the time of joining.

Medical: DGCA Class 1 Medical Certificate clearance from a certified medical doctor.

Passport: The airline requires the candidate to carry a valid Indian passport. When you fly to another nation, the airline will check your passport. A passport serves as a form of identification when traveling far from home. It reveals who you are and where you are from. Before you board the plane, the airline wants to make sure everything is in order with your passport, so they inspect it to ensure you’re prepared for your journey.

Background and Selection: The airline demands the candidate have a certificate of criminal record check (CRC) to produce before the competent authorities as and when required by airline authorities.

The candidate needs to produce the Basic Disclosure Certificate and pass all background checks.

Funding: The candidate or his guardian needs to produce their ITR statement or property papers to the airline where the candidate is hopeful of doing the cadet pilot program. The airline checks the documents at the time of handing the LOI to the candidate, presented by the candidate or his guarantor.

Cadet Pilot Program Selection Process

Every airline has its own Cadet Pilot Program, and each program’s selection process is unique. However, the fundamental structure tends to stay the same. The airline adheres to a specific sequence of steps. Airlines will contact the candidate and interview them at their offices. The employer gives the candidate information about the company’s headquarters, and he plans his travel and expenses appropriately. The company selects the candidate after the following five steps:

Cadet Pilot Program

Cadet Pilot Selection Process

  • Written test, preliminary interview, or CV screening. 
  • The airline initially tests the candidate on any one of the steps.
  • The airline conducts MCQ-based tests with the basic concepts of physics and mental math. The airline tests the candidate for math of the 10th grade level, basic arithmetic, and science of 10th grade. The test also covers the theoretical chapters of the subject covered before flying training.
  • The company calls the candidate for a personal interview on the basis of the qualifications mentioned in his CV (resume). The candidate must list all his extracurricular activities in the CV so that the recruiter can make a good impression just by going through the CV and building a good image in front of the recruiter. The candidate should clearly list the strong points of their educational and technical qualifications to give a good impression of the candidate.
  • The flight school conducts personal interviews (online or offline) to have a preliminary check of the candidate. The candidate goes to the interview dressed formally. He must have a clear and confident approach and communication, along with a positive attitude towards the job, organization, and industry.

Aptitude test for Cadet Pilot Program

The aptitude test checks the candidate’s ability to work under pressure as a pilot. The test checks his spatial and situational awareness, reasoning, numerical calculation ability, hand-to-eye coordination, long-term memory, and multi-tasking ability. In short, the airline basically checks whether the candidate is suitable to be a pilot. Some of the most popular tests are as follows:

Cadet Pilot Program
  • COMPASS (used by the SpiceJet Cadet program)
  • PILAPT (presently used in indigo cadet programs)
  • ADAPT (presently used in indigo cadet programs)
  • CUT-E (previously used by the AirAsia Cadet Program)

These may appear to you as “games.” Typically, the examiner will give you a joystick and rudder setup to perform the necessary activities. The candidate has to finish tasks such as flying an aircraft through tunnels to test your reaction time, maintaining an aircraft on a defined path using a rudder (slalom), identifying where an aircraft might be by reading instruments, and much more.

The aspirant cannot prepare for such flying in a practical environment. However, he may become familiar with such tests through the use of a few internet resources, the official tester’s websites, and, of course, playing video games.

This is a pass-or-fail test. The only catch for some programs is that if you are unable to clear it, the airline may present you with a cool-down period until you can apply again.

Psychometric evaluation

Airlines conduct psychometric evaluations for a basic evaluation of a person’s personality. The company utilizes the test solely for human resource evaluation purposes. The psychometric test is a non-pass/fail test. It consists of several questions that ask you for your preferences, sometimes in a “would you rather” format. This is a very interesting test that will force you to reflect.

Cadet Pilot Program: The Group Discussion

Remember, there are no correct answers here, so be yourself and go with the flow! Group discussion (GD)

As the name suggests, in the GD, you’re assessed mainly on your teamwork, communication, and other skills that a pilot needs to possess (i.e., being calm, supportive, logical, etc.). As pilots, it is always a collaborative effort between the FO and the PIC to ensure the safety of the aircraft and the passengers on board. So remembering how you work in a group says a lot about how you’d be in the cockpit. That’s the whole point of the group discussion. This will also likely be your first interaction with the airline’s professionals, who will be your direct assessors.

Grooming Tips for the Group Discussion

The candidate needs to groom themselves well at this point. He needs to dress up like a professional. Here are a few grooming tips:

The candidate should dress appropriately for the interview, including a beautiful suit and formal shoes. Girls may wear work heels. Keep your hair neat and get a good haircut. The candidates during the interview should have a short, decent haircut. Girls should tie and pin up their hair in a neat fashion. The candidate should avoid wearing accessories. He may wear a tie instead because it is appreciated.

Make sure to go in with either a clean-shaved look or a well-groomed beard. Candidates may keep beards for religious reasons.

Once you report to the venue, you’re asked to give in your attendance and might be told how to conduct yourself during the GD.

At The GD (Group Discussion):

The first group members are announced and given about 7 minutes to talk and gel with each other( make sure you get well-versed with your group mates’ names and try to address them with their names during the whole session). It’s all about the personal touch, after all!

Once you enter, you take your seats on one side of the table, and on the other side usually sits a panel of about 4–5 people. Now in GD, you may not just get a topic to discuss but might also get an activity, which is generally like a problem that you’re supposed to solve in the given time with your group. Don’t worry if you don’t solve the problem, because what actually matters is the way you solved it and not the final answer. However, if you’re able to solve the whole thing, it’s the best. But let that not be your only objective.

One person sums up the whole discussion and presents it in front of the panel, or sometimes the panel itself selects the candidate to conclude. There is a session of questions and answers where they may ask you questions to further assess you.

Interview Tips For Cadet Pilot Program: 

  • Maintain healthy eye contact with the whole panel, have a pleasant smile, and have an open and confident body.
  • Know what you are saying, and choose your words.
  • The candidate must speak confidently. and be noticed by the interviewer. 
  • Know that there is a very fine line between being confident, overconfident, and underconfident. Make sure you convey your point at all.
  • Stay professional in every aspect.
  • Remember, GD isn’t about me. It’s about us.
  • Stick to what you say. And respect what others say.
  • Personal interview (PI)

At last! The final stage arrives. You shall report to the designated venue at least 2 hours before the allotted time to get settled and complete any formalities required. There is no need to be nervous here. Interviews allow company experts to get to know you, assess your skills and personality, and envision you as a potential employee.


Recruiting Future Airline Captains

Airlines are not looking for students. Here are a few tips for you to go through and keep in mind when preparing:

The candidate needs to study the basic fundamentals of math and physics. The interviewer may ask him to explain these concepts at any time.

The candidate needs to prepare for a well-structured but typical interview. For example, questions on family background, reasons for becoming a pilot, and reasons for opting for the cadet pilot program. This will give you a lot of confidence when appearing for the interview. The mirror drill always helps!

The interviewer may ask some basic questions on aerodynamics. This is where clearing your DGCA exams before applying for a cadet program gives you a massive edge.

But don’t worry, if you haven’t finished your DGCA exams, you may refer to the internet for a few simple explanations of the basic principles of flight. They only expect you to be familiar with the idea of flying.

Extensive Understanding of The Airline Industry

A candidate with an extensive understanding of the industry will have an advantage over others. Check out the newest aviation news (Economic Times). Read extensively about the airline you’re applying to, such as its origins, present fleet size, market rankings, leaders, and more. The company’s website contains enough information on these factors.

The candidate needs to be familiar with the requirements and processes of becoming a pilot. Follow the links below to read our blogs detailing such a process.

Lastly, groom well and greet the exam takers with a positive, healthy smile and a hearty handshake.

After all of this, you will receive the final verdict via mail within a stipulated period.

Congratulations! The airlines have selected you for the pilot program.

LOI : Terms and Conditions for the Cadet Pilot

It is now time for you to get your glow on, suit up, and enter in style for your LOI signing. The LOI, or Letter of Intent, only states that upon completion of your training, the airline “intends”—but not guarantees—to hire you as a full-time employee.

The LOI lays out guidelines and conditions for the fulfillment of your training, and only in the scenario where you successfully complete your training with these criteria met will your LOI be converted into a Letter of Employment, which usually involves a bond of 3 to 5 years, depending upon company policy. A bond means that you may not exit the company without paying a certain security amount, which you give to the company in the form of undated cheques. These cheques will be encashed if the candidate leaves the company before the bond period expires. Once these formalities are done, your training officially starts.

Flight Training School: Cadet Pilot Course

The cadet trains at a pre-decided flight school. Airlines finalize these flight schools specifically for cadet pilot program training. Training as a cadet pilot, your experience will be quite different from the conventional students that you might see flying with you. The airline takes care of the accommodations for the cadet. As such, the cadet needs little to worry about. Just pack your bags, check the weather, and board your pre-booked flight to the destination of your flight school.

Since we are talking about Indian cadet programs here, all training at these flying schools takes place as per DGCA guidelines. Here’s an outline of what you can expect during your training:

Read More;- How to Become a Cabin Crew in India- Eligibility, Course, Selection, Details, Cost

Flight Training Requirement For Cadet Pilot Course

At first, the school or a separate ground school will cover your ground training requirements, and you will appear for your DGCA exams.

Rigorous monitoring of a cadet’s progress is done through tests and instructor reports.

You will be expected to work 200 hours, during which all flying requirements will be completed as per DGCA requirements. This includes all your checks, such as the 250 NM, 120 NM, and 300 NM sortie, GFT day, GFT night, and solo checks.

Instructors train the candidate by the strict guidelines laid down by the airline.

They monitor the progress of the candidate regularly. This means you’ve got to study and stay sharp, even when you think no one’s looking!

Sometimes, the airline may arrange for additional ground training, such as UPRT classes (upset prevention and recovery training), to be done while you are covering your flight training.

If you were transferred to a foreign school, you will need to complete a “license” process.

Conversion: To convert your international license into an Indian license, the candidate must complete a series of tests and additional flight instructions in India.

Type Rating Training

Next, you go for your type rating. This is when you learn how to fly the big jets from your training on single-engine piston aircraft. The airline finalizes the aircraft model for type rating; the cadet has no say in this. Currently, all programs that run are for the Airbus 320.

The cadet goes through training at the following places:

  1. Ground School
  2. Fixed Base Simulator
  3. Full Flight Simulator

In ground school, you study the systems of the aircraft, such as electrical systems, fuel systems, engines, and pressurization systems. This is to make sure that you are well-versed in the knowledge that is required to fly the aircraft and that you can understand what you are doing in the aircraft. The ground school also covers the learning of procedures and how to fly the aircraft using basic control inputs. Now you will move on to the next stage, wherein you will put all of this knowledge to practical use. This is the Fixed-Based SIM (FBS).

Cadet Pilot Program: How to Fly an Aircraft Using Computers

Here, you learn how to fly the aircraft using the computers of the aircraft since most modern aircraft are now computer-based. This is a very basic setup with a few screens and realistic-looking buttons; however, it does not simulate or mimic the motion of a real aircraft. A cadet learns limited things using computers. The most important thing is that a cadet learns procedures in the cadet pilot program that are compliant with those of the airline. This is the only difference between a conventional and a cadet doing a type rating.

After finishing a stipulated number of sessions on a fixed-base simulator, you move on to the Full Flight Simulator (FFS). A full-flight simulator is just like an experience.

The full-flight simulator, which is similar to a fixed-base simulator, is mounted on a moving platform. Here you learn how to control the aircraft and fly it using the procedures that you learned before and how to combine the two to finally fly the aircraft as you would in a day-to-day scenario. From here onwards, you get a certification that you are now rated on the Airbus A320 or whichever aircraft you applied for. Now you return to India and prepare for the induction.


Once you are back from your type rating, you will report to the airline to give your pre-employment medical exam and submit all your documents to the airline. The airline registers you and inducts you into the next available vacancy. The cadet, during induction, gets a letter of employment. The airline asks the cadet to obtain a license from DGCA before inducting him into the airline. Then he sends all the necessary documents to the airline.

And alas! We wait. The airline will contact you with the exact or expected date of your joining.

Cadet Pilot Course: Joining and Airline Training

The day has finally arrived when you are officially going to be a part of the company! First things first, you are invited to sign a letter of employment. The overall process of signing off on a letter of employment remains the same as the letter of intent. Once you have signed your letter of employment, you are sent to the ground school of your airline. Here, airline pilots will instruct you on business protocol. Hence, all pilots are operating planes at the same time and with the same understanding. This is crucial because you won’t likely ever fly with the same individual again. After all, the cockpit is always manned by two people. We refer to this as.

Read More;- SpiceJet Cadet Pilot Program Explained – Eligibility, Selection Process, Cost 2024

Airline Training for Cadet Pilots

The cadet pilot trains in ground school. Then he trains on the simulator. Next, he goes on supplementary flights, wherein he sits and observes the flight processes and controls in a real cockpit.

On these flights, all you have to do is observe how things are going in the cockpit and what procedures are being followed and applied while flying the aircraft in a day-to-day scenario. After your flight, your captain may ask you questions to assess how well you understood the goings on in the cockpit and just how familiar you are with the company procedure. After your supernumerary flights, your company will assign a “base” to you. This is the airport that you will be flying the most frequently out of, your home city, so it makes a lot of sense to be very familiar with it, right?

Here they will train you on an actual aircraft, and you will practice how to navigate around the airport, How to land on that runway, as well as performing circuits and landings during the day and night in that particular airport.

After all of this training, you are ready to be line-released as a junior first officer on the airline. But this is just the beginning! Onto the left seat and bigger jet, we go…

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