Q&A with a Pilot

Meet Shray! He is a pilot with IndiGo and has been flying since the age of 17. He is outgoing and always on the look out for new adventures. Shray is available as a mentor with Careers Infinite for all those who aspire to fly high.

Tell us about yourself

I am a Captain with IndiGo. I fly on the left seat and am the final authority for flight operations and safety. I started out with Paramount Airways in 2008, then moved on to private jets in 2010. In 2012, I joined IndiGo and have been with them for 5 years now.

Could you give us a brief overview of your educational background and the prerequisites for getting a pilot’s license?

After 12th standard, I went to Oklahoma in the US to do my flight training (250 hours). The flight training is very intense and includes ground school (theory) as well as practical training. Dedication and weather permitting, one can finish the training and exams within a year to get the Commercial Pilot License (CPL). The Student Pilot License (SPL) and the Private Pilot License (PPL) are prerequisites to getting the CPL. One would also need a multi-engine rating on it. Basically planes come in two types - one is a single engine like a Cessna and the other is a multi-engine, which includes all our jets and multi-propeller airplanes. I had to take three more examinations to become qualified to fly in India.

What other certifications are required?

Type rating is required as well. This certification differs for every airplane carrier. For example, the type rating for a Boeing is different from that for an Embraer or an Airbus. It’s like driving a different car altogether. The training, which involves ground school and simulator training, allows one to be updated on the advances in aviation technology in the different planes. Some other certifications include the Radio Telephony license and English language proficiency test.

What made you decide to become a pilot?

My dad is in the Indian Air Force and I have been around planes all through my childhood. So I could not think of doing anything else, except flying.

What is your plan moving forward?

Eventually, I plan to become a Line Training Captain (LTC). This role involves a lot more responsibility as it involves training people.

What is your advice to a student who is interested in becoming a pilot?

You need to take up science and mathematics in 11th and 12th standard. A degree is not a requirement in India. You can find the details in www.dgca.nic.in, the official Indian Aviation website. The medical exams are held in 3 cities in India. If you clear them, GO FLY!

The educational background doesn’t matter either. As long as you have your CPL and are current with your flight training, you can fly. For example, we have a few doctors and merchant navy personnel who are now pilots. Being a pilot is all about your hours spent flying a plane. That is your currency!

What are some of the challenges you face in this journey?

Timings! The flight schedules are hectic and communication is critical, especially if one has a family. Irregular food and sleep can often take a toll on one's health. So, it is important to be self-aware too.

What are your personal hobbies that you pursue apart from your career?

I love to go swimming and scuba diving. My favorite spot to do this is Port Blair. I feel that pilots need to distract themselves with outdoor recreational activities. Apart from diving, my family and I enjoy traveling and trying out different cuisines.

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