Pilot Aptitude Battery Test – PABT

by Uday Kumar on August 29, 2012

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:

  1. Written Test or Instrument Reading
  2. The Sensory Motor Apparatus or Light Control Test
  3. Control of Velocity Test or Drum Test

The Tests in Detail

Instrument Reading

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.

Drum Test

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.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Kishor August 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Sir how do they check flat foot in air force medical exam?if only one feet is flat then will they reject?Plz reply. Y my old comments were not posted ?


sss August 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm

ssb dates for bhopal
as well as bangalore
check out gentleman……….
best of luck ………..
sir please answer my simple questions as i post on your blog ……….
please please please please:)


sss September 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm



anurag yadav September 2, 2012 at 8:17 am

sir i would like to know about some points if you can help me its regarding the educational marks score for navy if i m eligible ,
sir my question is if i dont have exact 60% in my btech can i do mtech and with a good score above 60% in that im eligible for the courses of navy as its written in naval advertisements that the higher degree with higher marks is considered if a person has so kindly tell me the point clearly i want to clear it as im persuing my masters to get my eligibility pleasse sir do reply fast waiting for your valuable info


uday September 2, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Anurag, you should not exceed 25 years when you will apply, kindly keep it in mind. Regarding, M.Tech score taking care of low B.Tech score I will check and get back to you.


anurag yadav September 3, 2012 at 12:34 am

thank you sir for above quick reply there is also a point in my mind in some entries the navy website shows the eligibilty of 55% but in the advertisements its always 60% why it is so you can see for General service executive branch and ,it officer on this link http://nausena-bharti.nic.in/officer1.php , its written of 55% but in advertisements its 60% ???what to do sir


arpit January 15, 2013 at 3:26 pm

i want to clear pabt so iwant to have a full overview over what is the selection procedure for pabt.


shashank singh January 23, 2013 at 6:46 am

sir , i have screened out in g.d. . please tell me some tips to prapare to this . . . . .


shashank singh January 23, 2013 at 6:48 am



varun February 3, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Can you provide some samples for PABT test… mainly for instrument readind.


Abhinav Yadav February 4, 2013 at 1:11 pm

sir i am engineering graduate from mechanical branch looking for Indian air force and preparing for afcat 2013. But my height is exactly 162.5 cm. Am i eligible for flying branch. And if, then please suggest me the best to prepare for PABT.


Om Prakash February 16, 2013 at 8:09 am

Dear Sir,
My age was 21 yrs and i am doing B.Sc Physics form IGNOU, in 1st year. Sir is there any option that when i was in final year, can i apply for pilot test in Indian Navy or Air force.


mandeep singh March 5, 2013 at 1:05 am

sir thank you the above information
sir i have a tiny brown spot in my right eye
but otherwise my vision is perfect and without specs
so will i be declared medically unfit during medical exam after clearing ssb and pabt
should i try


POONACHA August 2, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Sir I have completed my B.E with 68.55% in 2013.plz need me information of eligibility and qualification for PABT.


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uday September 5, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Dear Satnam Singh plz post your question again. I am not able to find it out!!!!


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