Pilot Training : Conventional Vs Cadet Pilot Training Pathways – A Quick Comparison



Airline Pilot career is considered most sought-after career in India these days as the country requires nearly 17,000 pilots in next five to seven years. It requires great amount of training, dedication, and passion to become an Airline Pilot.

For over 15 years, Aviacons has been the beacon of excellence in pilot training. With more than 15 years of experience in the aviation industry, our team of experts is dedicated to nurturing young talents and guiding them towards the skies.

A career as a pilot offers exciting opportunities and the chance to be part of the dynamic aviation industry in India. Pilots play a crucial role in ensuring safe and efficient air travel, and their training is governed by specific rules and regulations. In India, pilot training follows guidelines set by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

There are typically two routes into an aviation career as an airline pilot. The most preferred being the conventional pathway and the other one is Airline Cadet Pilot Training pathway.

Aspiring Pilots often find it difficult to decide upon the pathway, as most of them are not fully aware of the pros and cons of these two pathways.

This article helps you understand various features of these pathways and gives you a clear comparison so that you can opt for most convenient pathway based on your personal preferences.

Conventional Pilot Training Program:

A conventional Pilot Training Program involves pursuing flight training independently outside of a specific airline program. Key features include modular training, flexibility in training locations and instructors, and exposure to a variety of aircraft types.

Costs vary depending on the flight school and can range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Benefits include greater flexibility and a broader range of flight experience.

Timelines typically range from 2 to 3 years to complete training. Career prospects include employment in various aviation sectors, such as airlines, charter companies, and flight instructional career.


  • Flight training conducted at flight schools or aviation academies.
  • Generally, a modular training approach with separate training modules such as Pre-Solo, Solo, Post solo, Time Building, Instrument Rating, Night Rating and Multi Engine endorsement for award of CPL (A) MEIR.
  • More flexibility in selecting training locations and instructors.
  • Training on a variety of aircraft types based on the training school’s fleet.


  • Costs can vary significantly depending on the country, training location, and flight school.
  • Generally, the cost includes flight hours, ground training, study materials, exams, and additional fees. Living expenses additional.
  • Average cost of entire program can vary between 40 – 50 Lakhs. Might be little more expensive if done abroad.


  • Greater flexibility in terms of training pace and schedule.
  • Potential to gain a broader range of flight experience on various aircraft types.
  • Option to choose a flight school that aligns with specific preferences or budget constraints.


  • The duration can vary depending on individual progress, availability of training slots, airspace congestion, and aircraft student and Instructor Ratio.
  • Typically takes around 2-3 years to complete the necessary training and flight hours.

Career Prospects:

  • Once you pass out from the Flight School and obtain Professional Pilot Licence, you can seek employment in various sectors of aviation, including airlines, charter companies, cargo operators, and flight instructional roles in Flight Training Academies.

Selection Process:

  • Admissions criteria and requirements can vary among flight schools.
  • Generally, a pass in Class 10+2 with Maths & Physics or equivalent is required, along with certain medical and age criteria.
  • Applicants may undergo aptitude tests, interviews, and medical evaluations based on flight school’s process.

Ease of Doing:

  • Offers more flexibility in terms of selecting training locations, instructors, and scheduling.
  • However, it requires careful research and evaluation of different flight schools to ensure quality training and career opportunities.

Airline Cadet Pilot Training Program:

An Airline Cadet Pilot Training Program is offered by specific airlines to groom and train pilots for their own operations. The program is tailored to meet the airline’s requirements and standards.

The Cadet Pilot Training Program gives you a clear pathway into an airline career and training as per airline procedures and protocols. The timeline for an airline cadet program is typically fixed, ranging from 24 – 30 months. Successful completion often leads to employment with the same airline.


  • Training programs specifically designed by airlines to meet their specific requirements and standards.
  • Training typically includes flight instruction, simulator training, and theoretical courses.
  • Emphasis on airline procedures, protocols, and safety standards.
  • Training is conducted with a clear career path leading to potential employment with the sponsoring airline.


  • The cost structure of airline cadet programs can vary significantly.
  • Rarely, airlines may partially sponsor the training, requiring the cadets to sign a bond or service agreement.
  • But mostly, cadets need to self-fund all of the training expenses.


  • Direct entry into an airline career path, potentially increasing the chances of employment with the sponsoring airline.
  • Training programs designed to meet specific airline standards and requirements.
  • Possibility of mentoring and guidance from experienced airline pilots.


  • Cadet training programs often have a fixed duration, typically ranging from 24 – 30 months.

Career Prospects:

  • Successful completion of an airline cadet program generally leads to employment with the sponsoring airline.
  • However, it’s important to note that employment is not guaranteed, and further assessments or evaluations may be required.

Selection Process:

  • Airline cadet programs typically have rigorous selection processes, including online assessments, interviews, aptitude tests, and medical evaluations.
  • Each airline may have its own specific requirements and criteria for selection.

Ease of Doing:

  • The selection process for airline cadet programs can be highly competitive, and meeting all the requirements can be challenging.
  • Once accepted, the training program is generally structured and provides a clear pathway into an airline career.

To provide a concise comparison, here’s a tabular format:


Conventional Pilot Training Program

Airline Cadet Pilot Training Program


Modular training, flexibility

Tailored airline-oriented training


Variable, self-funded

Variable, some sponsorship possible


Flexibility, broader experience

Direct airline career path


Flexible, based on individual progress

Fixed duration, typically 12-24 months

Career Prospects   

Various aviation sectors

Potential employment with the airline

Selection Process  

Varies among flight schools

Rigorous, airline-specific criteria

Ease of Doing      

More research, flexibility

Competitive, structured pathway


The choice depends on individual preferences, financial resources, career aspirations, and the specific offerings of flight schools and airlines. Both the conventional Pilot Training Program and Airline Cadet Pilot Training Program have their advantages and considerations.

Conventional pilot training programs provide greater flexibility and the opportunity to gain diverse flight experience. They can be suitable for individuals seeking more control over their training, want to explore different aircraft types, or have budget constraints.

On the other hand, airline cadet programs offer a streamlined pathway into an airline career, potentially increasing the chances of employment with the sponsoring airline. They are suitable for individuals who are committed to pursuing a career with a specific airline and are willing to undergo a competitive selection process.

It is essential for aspiring pilots to thoroughly research and evaluate the available options, considering factors such as program reputation, training quality, employment prospects, and financial considerations. Consulting with aviation professionals, current pilots, and trusted sources within the aviation industry can provide valuable insights and help make an informed decision.

Before deciding on this, you must speak to someone experienced in flight training domain with most up-to-date and accurate information on pilot training regulations and programs in the different countries so that they can guide you through the process.

Best Wishes,



Scroll to Top