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Is Cadet Pilot Program better?

Updated: Mar 10, 2023

A brand costs many Grands in flight training

Many of Airline Pilot aspirants have this question, is cadet Pilot program better. Before coming to a logical answer lets visit few facts.

Traditional Flight Training

A traditional flight training program begins once an aspirant has passed 10+2 with maths and physics. With medical assessment and other formal requirements in place, he or she can approach a flight school or a ground school to initiate the journey. Theory exams to be passed with minimum 70% marks conducted by Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). With 200 flying training hours along with English proficiency test, one can apply for issue of Commercial Pilot License (CPL). CPL alone usually not enough for airline eligibility. A type rating of specific airline aircraft to be done. With CPL + type rating, candidates can apply for airline flying the type rated aircraft. Airline selected candidates undergoes airline mandated internal trainings to land inside real aircraft.

Estimated cost of CPL these days is around Rs. 40-45 lacs whereas type rating may cost around Rs. 18 – 20 lacs. Both put together, a budget of approximately Rs. 65 lacs to be planned. Stay and other associated costs usually does not come in this.

Cadet Pilot Programs

Cadet Pilot Programs are managed by airlines. Selection of candidates are done by an assessment test after 10+2. Selected candidates are sent for training that covers almost same requirements of traditional Flight Training program i.e. theory papers, 200 hours of flying leading to CPL + type rating. A certain training standard is laid by the airline to its vendor flight schools. Airline Cadet Pilot programs are now a separate vertical within airline generating revenue for them along with Pilots for their needs. The advantage of opting for Cadet Pilot Program is letter of intent at the stat of program that says if selected candidate completes the training with laid out requirements, he or she will be given an offer to join their Airline. This reduces the step of job hunting after CPL + Type rating.

Estimated cost of usual Cadet Pilot Programs are anywhere just over Rs. 1 Cr. That is 50% more then Traditional Flight Training cost.

Comparison between Traditional Pilot training and Cadet Pilot Programs

  • Cost wise as mentioned there is a difference of around 50%. Cadet Pilot Program costs 50% more i.e. approx Rs. 30 - 35 lacs more.

  • Considering initial pay scale of Airline Pilots, this is equivalent to more than salary of an year that an entrant airline pilot makes.

  • Training standard of Cadet Pilot program may be better as it is provided by chosen flight schools with airline laid guidelines.

  • Time taken in Cadet Pilot programs may vary based on Q of candidates and capacity of their vendor flight schools. Traditional Pilot training program can be completed anywhere between 1.5-2 years if pursued diligently with right mentorship. There is not a significant difference in time taken.


We have witnessed in past that airlines offering Cadet Pilot Programs have gone into losses and even shutdown before Cadets reach to the stage of joining the Airline. The same has resulted in financial and time loses.

In the interview we had with Capt. Shane (Industry leading Flight instructor & Examiner), he expressed his opinion on this. You can listen to his answer below. For his detailed answer please refer to complete interview available at YouTube here.

Lastly, one can surely opt for Cadet Pilot Program if they can afford the cost difference without too much stretching. A due diligence of the airline offering cadet pilot program and program itself is recommended through training consultants.

*OFLY objective is to disseminate fair and genuine information regarding Aviation. We do not represent any specific flight school. Author of this blog is an Indian Licensed Pilot and keen observer of Indian aviation market. He has flown with multiple flying training schools of India. He enjoys mentoring people who wish to be a commercial / hobby Pilot. He can be approached at for consultation.


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