A Pilot Should Never Stop Learning - Capt. Shivneet Pujani

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1. Tell us about your journey.

I was born and brought up in karnal and went to Patiala for my higher education. I remember 20 years down the line when I was a child I used to go to karnal airport and watch takeoffs and landings, I use to admire the pilots and fantasize myself in their roles. After my schooling, I thought of choosing aviation as my career, since there are multiple factors governing your decision so I ended up choosing to engineer.

After completing my engineering from Thapar University I joined a company as a data architect. The obsession to become a pilot was so high that I took a calculated decision to start flying training along with the job and this time I made sure my decision is not hampered by someone else's opinion and suggestions.

Finally, the day came and I got my commercial pilot license and a step ahead got my instructor license too presently I am working in Flying Training Organisation of Punjab government and performing the duties that I fantasized two decades ago.

2. What qualities make a good pilot and what should one know about this profession?

A pilot must possess at least all the below-said qualities from my point of view. 
  • CALMNESS Being able to cope in high-pressure situations is absolutely paramount quality a good pilot must-have.
  • SITUATIONAL AWARENESS  means respecting everything that is going on throughout flying, controlling and maintaining an aircraft. 
  • CLEAR AND GOOD COMMUNICATION Pilot must possess good and clear communication skills
  • DECISIVENESS & QUICK THINKING SKILLS  Time and resource constraints, as well as other pressure-adding factors like turbulence, can make decision-making challenging for pilots. The Pilot is required to make sound judgements to make the best possible decision for their particular circumstance.
This profession is totally different from other professions there are no weekends and festivals Off especially in airlines and aviation industry works 24×7 you may even be asked for late nights and early morning duties. The level of responsibility is too high as compared to others and there is no scope of error.

3. Where did you do your training from and which institute would you recommend?

I have done my flying training from the Haryana Institute of Civil Aviation and  Patiala Aviation Club. Choosing an Institute for flying training depends upon many factors. Flying training cost for only a Commercial pilot license course varies from flying school to flying school.

There are few government flying schools charge fees  20-25 lakhs and there are few schools charge fees 70-80 lakhs (depending upon facilities they provide), So financial aspect is something one should keep in mind before finalizing any flying school.

Another aspect is the availability of aircraft and instructors. One more thing one should keep in mind the student-instructor ratio per aircraft. One instructor on one aircraft with a maximum of 10 students is considered a good ratio.

My reason for choosing the Haryana Institute of Civil Aviation and Patiala Aviation club is the availability of most experienced instructors of India in these institutes. Capt. Malkeat Singh (CFI Patiala Aviation Club) and Capt. DK Punia (CFI Haryana institute of civil aviation) both have flying experience of more than 10000 hours and another reason these institutes are cost-effective.

4. What's the best piece of flying advice given to you?

There is no end to education, it is not that if you have passed the examination so you are done with the course. Each and every sortie has something to teach us. Each and every aviation-related article, case studies have something to teach us. So a pilot should never stop learning.

5. What advice would you pass on to someone who wants to be a pilot?

A pilot should be mentally and physically fit, so anyone who is planning to become a pilot should adopt a healthy lifestyle. He/she should enhance communication skills, should increase the patience level and calmness within oneself and inculcate the habit of decision making.

6. What does success look like to you in this job?

To me, success is not only a positive final result. Success means to have a goal, plan the steps to achieve the goal, implement the plan, and finally achieve the goal. Each and every positive result of a step taken to achieve the goal is a success. 

For example, in a sortie from starting up the aircraft engine (is a successful startup) to landing the aircraft safely (is a successful landing), if I am able to transfer my flying skills and knowledge to my juniors, it is a success, if I am able to adapt and learn new skills is a success.

7. Which is your favourite book and why?

I generally prefer reading aviation-related books, magazines and articles. I also prefer reading autobiographies. One of my favourite books is "WINGS OF FIRE"  of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam by Arun Tiwari.

It is a highly motivational book and shares the story of Kalam's own rise from obscurity and his personal and professional struggles, as well as the story of Agni, Trishul and nag missile. It also tells us about the selfless service of the missile man towards the nation.

Interview by - Sonam

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