Navigating the Skies: A Journey from Passion to Profession

Dhingra side profile shot of him smiling with red polo and headset on, while flyingI trust this message finds you soaring high with aspirations and dreams. My name is Harpreet Singh Dhingra, and I’m delighted to share my journey in the aviation industry with all of you. Join me as I take you through the skies of my experiences, from the moment I discovered my passion to the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.

My odyssey in aviation commenced long before I joined Phoenix East Aviation in 2014. As an eight-year-old, I took my first flight and was captivated by the idea of getting paid to fly and explore the world. Fast forward to today, having earned my Commercial Pilot License and Instructor Ratings at PEA, I can attest to the exceptional knowledge and experience gained during my time there.
After obtaining my certifications, I worked as a flight instructor before venturing back to India to convert my license. The DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) conversion process was relatively unknown at that time, and my journey was marked by challenges and triumphs. With the guidance of the Chief Pilot, I successfully navigated the conversion process, gaining valuable insights along the way.

Eager to share my knowledge, I’ve conducted presentations and one-on-one sessions with students, contributing to PEA’s initiative to offer tailored programs for DGCA conversion, even for those who have completed their training in the US. The presentations cover a variety of topics and are tailored to students who are eager to learn more about the DGCA conversion process. The topics that are covered include:

  • DGCA Regulations: total hour requirement, cross country flight requirements, instrument time requirements.
  • Block time: Solo PIC (pilot in command) requirements, the specific way to complete the last 6 months of PIC requirements, completing 6 night PIC along with night take off and landing requirements.
  • Logbook: Requirements about how DGCA requests the original logbook (FAA), not an Indian logbook and how to properly fill out the DGCA logbook which is required to be submitted once back in India

In addition to the topics listed above, it is also imperative to remember that if multi engine training is done in the US as opposed to India, it is typically completed quicker due to availability of multi engine aircraft. This is especially true for those that complete their training at PEA because of their addition of 7 newly modernized Piper Senecas to their fleet.

Pilots who are looking to convert both their single and multi engine certificates in India have the ability to complete their multi engine checkride in the United States. This is beneficial due to the lack of availability of multi engine aircraft in India. Therefore, when the pilot returns to India, they only have their single engine checkride to complete.

While my ultimate dream is to pilot a flight across the Atlantic, Phoenix East Aviation has become more than an institution to me; it’s a family. Since returning from working on my conversion, I’ve had the privilege to work in the Flight Training Department. The fulfillment I find in my work is beyond words, as the department not only focuses on helping students obtain their FAA licenses but also guides them through the intricate process of DGCA license conversion.

The aviation landscape in India has undergone significant changes since 2019. The launch of the EGCA website in 2020, an electronic platform for application tracking, has streamlined the conversion process. With India’s aviation sector experiencing rapid growth, there has been a surge in demand for pilots and aviation professionals. The boom in airline opportunities is a testament to this growth, and the trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. Phoenix East Aviation has an auxiliary training facility about 30 miles north of the main campus, in Flagler Beach. This campus is home to those looking to complete their training at an accelerated pace, but also to those who come to PEA through TNC Aviation. TNC Aviation is an organization located in India that partners with PEA. This partnership allows student pilots from India a clear and easy path to flight training in the United States.

For those aspiring to embark on an aviation career, now is the opportune moment to elevate your ambitions. The industry’s growth, coupled with the steady increase in opportunities, makes this an exciting time to be part of the aviation community. India currently has one of the fastest growing aviation industries and is set to become the third largest aviation markets in the world by 2024. India’s aviation industry is often examined in three different sectors beginning with domestic and international airlines, next being charter and air taxi operations, followed by air cargo services (Jaisinghani, 2023). According to the DGCA, the overall air traffic in India increased by 42.85% from January to June of 2023. Meanwhile, since June, there has been a steady monthly increase by 18.78% (Ani, The Economic Times, 2023). The aviation industry is growing exponentially meaning the need for pilots is on the rise as well. Phoenix East Aviation has successfully trained thousands of pilots for over 50 years and ensures that their pilots are ready to confidently take on the skies! While PEA is home to pilots from over 65 different countries, India is one of the largest countries represented at PEA. That said, with the growth of the aviation industry in India as well as successfully training at PEA and converting FAA licenses over to DGCA, a pilot will be ready to work and fly in India.

Whether you’re just starting or looking to advance your career, the skies are beckoning.

Wishing you clear skies and tailwinds on your journey,
Harpreet Singh Dhingra

Jaisinghani, M. (2023, October 26). Aviation Industry in India – Aviation Sector Analysis, GR… Investing in the Thriving Aviation Industry in India | Invest …,Water%20aerodromes%20and%209%20Heliports.
Air Traffic in India jumps 42.85% in January-June 2023: DGCA. The Economic Times. (2023, July 13).

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