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Home > Becoming a Pilot > Is every airline pilot a genius or can an average guy get through by hard work?
Is every airline pilot a genius or can an average guy get through by hard work?
Pilot Career - Becoming a Pilot
Saturday, 29 October 2005 09:22

Dear Capt Lim,

I am from India and a great fan of your site. I have been surfing it for the last 2 months.

Please advise me on the following:

I am now enrolled in a flight school in California and am very confident about getting the FAA CPL+ MER, then a conversion to Indian CPL (Commercial Pilot License). I hold a current FAA Class 1 Medical Student Pilot Certificate and will apply for my Visa in October. I know about the bright and dark aspects of this career, but only one risk factor was unknown to me until last week. Since I have discovered it, I am literally sleepless!

It*s about the type-rating exams. I have heard about a lady pilot from Air Deccan. She got selected for the Airbus A320 course, paid Rs.22.5 Lakhs (US$51000), went to the Airbus Training Institute, Toulouse, France. She failed the exams and wasted all the money. Now, she is paying another 10 Lakhs (US$23000) for her ATR rating.

I hear that Airbus doesn*t give second chance to reappear for the written exams. In such a case, is it necessary that one must have to be extra-ordinarily talented to pass the type-rating exam of a passenger jet? I mean to ask, is every airline pilot a genius or can any average student get through by being hard-working?

Also tell me:

1. Is it fair not to give the candidates enough chances to clear the papers of type-rating written exams? Isn*t there any way out of such a disaster? What should be done to avoid one?

2. Is there any benchmark to check our own aptitude/capacity to clear type-rating written exams?

3. How can I make sure that I pass this kind of exams in one go? (What is the key?)

4. I am always happy to fly all my life. When it comes to economics, I am banking on an airline job only.

My parents are investing Rs.16-17 Lakh (US$35000) for my CPL- repaying the loans will be long if I don*t get an airline job.

What are my prospects based on the following facts about me?

I have been an average student throughout, but I am very interested in Science. I scored 65% in 10th Std (120/150 in Science), 70% in 10+2 in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. 55% in B.Sc. (Chemistry) - that because I didn*t have much interest in it & put in no effort at all - just wanted a namesake graduation.

I was not studious, but also, I have never done any *mugging* in my life. I have a good grasping power about Science & Technology. I am a technophile and am willing to put all my efforts in flying, as it*s my all-time passion!

Whatever comes up for me, I want to end-up as an airline pilot only. If I have to get into charters, I cannot stay there too long. So please guide me as to what I should do from now?

Warm Regards,


Hi Andy,

Any average guy can become a pilot if he has the money to go to a flight school, but the difficulty is to get into a good major airline. They generally pay their pilots quite well as compared to other secondary carriers or smaller charters. As in everything in life, the more coverted the position, the more difficult it is to get into it. So this often gives the perception that, to be a pilot of a major airline, it requires a lot of intellectual effort.

Having said that, the chances of being employed as a pilot vary globally. In the US, it is tough at the moment in view of the slowdown in air travel. The story is different in Asia. In India, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines and Indian Airlines are expanding quite vigorously with many new purchases of Boeing and Airbus aircraft. With an Airbus A320 rating, your chances of employment are good, but your question is, how to get through the type rating without going through nightmares about what you have heard.

I am not clear as to exact details on how the Air Deccan lady pilot failed her A320 type-rating exam. If she is inexperienced and not well prepared, she will have difficulty getting through the exam. Therefore, I cannot comment on the fairness of the exam or the course.

You have to do a lot of researches and try to find out from an Airbus A320 rated pilot about the type-rating course before you invest your money on it. There are a lot of resources in the Internet, but unfortunately, I cannot provide you with all the answers about the A320 rating, as it is not my specialty.

As for yourself, you have the basic requirement to be an airline pilot. So, if you are passionate about flying, willing to work hard - you can be an airline pilot one day - given that, your parents are able to invest the money for your training in the US and there is a shortage of well-trained pilots in India.

I wish you all the best in your flying career!

FS2004 – Flying the Lufthansa Airbus A320


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