For all those aspiring to become a part of the Indian Air Force, Indian Navy and Army as Pilots there is one hurdle to cross – the PABT, which stands for Pilot Aptitude and Battery Test. These tests are conducted by the three Air Force SSB boards for inducting candidates to fly Air Crafts in the Air Force, Navy, Army and Coast Gaurd. The candidates will have to take these tests before their SSB interview. These tests are almost common in many nations of the world, as similar pattern tests are also undertaken by aspirants in different parts of the world so as to become a part of their nation’s Flying Cadre. In India, these tests are designed and developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) to be deployed at Air Force Selection Boards (AFSB) at Varanasi, Mysore and Dehradun.
The Aim of Pilot Aptitude Battery Test
The DRDO in consultation with the SSB (Services Selection Board) has specifically designed the PABT in order to enable the interviewing officers to accurately spot the candidate’s ability, presence of mind, reflex and quick response, effective control over his limbs and nerves, and most important of all, his efficiency and power of reasoning and judgment. The PABT’s are a key pressure point as all the above mentioned characteristics are essential to mould the candidate into a successful pilot. It is believed that without these natural instincts, attitude and reflex actions, it is not feasible to become a successful pilot. Therefore, the candidates are allowed to take the PABTs ONLY ONCE in their LIFETIME. Hence, it is extremely important to be well prepared for the interview as it is the candidate’s only chance to portray all their skills and potential of becoming a PILOT.
The Tests That Are Part of PABT
Before commencing the test, the Air Force Officer will give a complete and thorough explanation of the test procedure, the rules and regulations to be observed clear instructions on how to handle and comprehend the output of the machines. The officers take enough time to clearly put forth all the guidelines of the testing process. Officers also allow the candidates to do a little practice on the machines before taking up the real test. Most of the experienced are
of the opinion that if a candidate clearly observes and absorbs all the instructions and guidelines, then it will be a very simple task to clear the PABT.
The PABTs are divided into 3 major sections. These are:
- Written Test or Instrument Reading
- The Sensory Motor Apparatus or Light Control Test
- Control of Velocity Test or Drum Test
The Tests in Detail
The instrument reading task is a written test that is aimed to depict the candidate’s ability to read and process different instruments within a short span of time. The candidates will be given a sheet of paper with images of readings of various instruments. They will have to answer 60 questions which are based on the images and will have to complete this task within 20 minutes. The images are usually of six key instruments such as:
- Magentic Compass – The instrument which is used to determine which direction we are traveling towards. The real compass needle usually point north and south direction, but the images on the question paper may be north, south, east, west, north east, north west, south east or south west.
- Artificial Horizon – This is the instrument used to measure the altitude of the planes at both its wings – the right and left. This is critical to determine if the plane is flying parallel to the ground or sliding towards one end.
- Altimeter – This is essential to assess the altitude at which the plane is flying, usually measured from mean sea level. It has 3 needles which move in a clock wise direction.
- Turn and Back Indicator – This machine is used to figure out where the aircraft is turning. It has a white ended needle and the movement of the white needle indicates whether the plane is turning left or right.
- Climb and Descent Indicator – This is used to find the flying position of the aircraft. Whether it is Ascending or Descending.
- Air Speed Indicator – This instrument aids in determining the speed of the aircraft which is referred to as the IAS (Indicator Air Speed).
Light Control Test
This test falls under the category of machine tests and is executed to assess the candidate’s abilities of reflex responses and alertness of mind. They are designed to calculate the extent of co-ordination and harmony between the arms, legs and mind. The candidate is made to sit in front of a screen which has two light spots in red and yellow flashed on and off. They are also given clear instructions as well as practice before the test. The candidates will be given 3 tools to perform this task – a hand operated stick, foot pedals and light lever. They also have 3 chances to do the task and the best of the three will be used for assessment.
This is also a machine test used to determine the aspirant’s ability to control the velocity. The candidate will have use a knob which has a red color on the screen to catch as many yellow dots as possible which come as a sequence from up to down on the screen. The candidates score points in proportion to the number of dots they are able to control on the screen.
To conclude, the Indian Air Force is a very reputed and highly revered office to get a position into. Therefore performing well in the PABT and to crack the interview is extremely important in order to become a part of the Air Force Flying Branch or Flying branch of any Force.
You can read my previous article for a more detailed explanation on drum tests and light control tests: Pilot Aptitude Battery Test
Let me know if you have any questions.