Indian Air Force

Explained: All About IAF CPSS Test & How To Practice?

Hello defence lovers! Flying is the dream of many defence aspirants. In order to get selected for any flying branch of the Indian armed forces, the candidate has to clear the Computerised Pilot Selection System (CPSS). In this article, we are going to discuss CPSS in detail. We will also help you to prepare better for the CPSS.

What Is CPSS?

Computerized Pilot Selection System or CPSS is a test used by all the three branches of the Indian armed forces for the selection procedure of the pilots. It is conducted by the Indian airforce at its various Air Force Selection Boards (AFSBs). CPSS is the brainchild of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam sir. It has been further designed and developed by DRDO. This test is carefully designed to judge the crucial psychomotor abilities of a candidate required for flying highly sophisticated aircraft of the Indian armed forces. CPSS has also replaced the old British-era PABT test.

For new recruits, CPSS is conducted after the candidate is recommended by the Service Selection Board. CPSS is once in a lifetime test. The candidate gets only one attempt to clear the test in his/her lifetime. If a candidate fails CPSS, then he/she cannot join any flying branch of the Indian armed forces. In case a candidate has opted for the airforce, he/she can join ground duty technical and nontechnical branches. CPSS is conducted after the candidate is recommended by the board. The candidates who are habitual wearers of any kind of spectacles or contact lenses are not eligible for CPSS. There are two stages in CPSS.

Stage 1 of CPSS

Stage 1 of CPSS is an assessment of the multitasking ability of the candidate. It asses whether the candidate can perform different tasks under pressure at the same time. First, the candidates are briefed about the six basic instruments in detail. Then an MCQ quiz generally consisting of 15 questions is conducted. 30 minutes is allocated for the test. In this test one or many instruments with reading are shown on a screen along with mathematics or a logical reasoning question. Now let us understand these instruments briefly.

The Six Basic Instruments

As described above, in Phase I of CPSS, candidates will be briefed on the six basic flight instruments which are altimeter, airspeed indicator, artificial horizon, heading indicator, vertical speed indicator, and turn coordinator. Let us understand the working of each instrument in detail now.

Airspeed Indicator

An airspeed indicator is just like a speedometer for an airplane. It shows the velocity of air hitting the wings of the plane parallel without any angle of attack. The airspeed is measured by a simple pitot tube. The reading is shown in Knots which is the universal airspeed unit. The airspeed is denoted by a needle on a circular dial. For a Cessna 172, the range of airspeed is 0 to 200 knots. The dial becomes green from the stall speed (40 knots) and remains green up to the safe cruising speed (140 knots).

Artificial Horizon

It is an instrument that indicates the roll and pitch of the aircraft simultaneously. It is a gyro-controlled device that has a rotating disc or globe ( in analogue versions). Half of the disk is painted brown and another half is painted blue. The brown portion signifies the ground and the blue portion sky. A white line divides these regions and signifies the horizon. The movement of the disk is similar to the view of the horizon from the aircraft’s cockpit.


The altimeter is an instrument that shows the height of the aircraft from the ground underneath it. It works on the principle of reflection of radio waves. An analog altimeter has two needles analogous to the hour hand and minute hand of a regular clock. However, the dial ranges from 0 to 10 and the rotation is anticlockwise. The reading of the hour hand is to be multiplied by 1000 feet and that of the minute hand by 100 feet. Adding the two readings gives the altitude of the aircraft. Reading an altimeter is as simple as reading a regular analog watch.

Turn Coordinator

The turn coordinator is a simple instrument that shows the inclination angle of the wings of the aircraft with the transverse axis with respect to the horizontal. In simpler words, it shows the baking angle of the wings. It has a pictorial representation of the aircraft itself which rotates along with the banking of the wings.

Heading Indicator/Directional Gyro

A heading indicator is just a simple compass that gives the direction where the aircraft is heading. For defining this movement the directions are divided into 360 degrees. Noth is assigned 0 degrees, East 90 degrees, South 180 degrees, West 270 degrees, and North again are assigned 360 degrees. Any direction can be assigned a number between 0 to 360 degrees. This reading is called “Heading”. The reading on the tip of the needle gives the current Heading.

Vertical Speed Indicator

A verticle speed indicator is an instrument that gives the rate of ascent or descent of the aircraft. It gives the reading in feet per second. There is a single needle whose zero position is at the 9 o’clock position of a regular clock. The clockwise rotation from the zero position shows the rate of ascent and the anticlockwise rotation from the zero position shows the rate of descent.

How To Practice?

Learning the ability to read the above instruments can be very handy during the CPSS test. So an excellent way to learn to read these instruments is through flight simulators. Nowadays high-end PCs are not the only way to run graphically demanding flight simulators such as Aerofly, Xplane, and Microsoft Flight Simulator. A simple way to learn to read these instruments is through Xplane Mobile. In Xplane Mobile Cessna 172 provides a simple yet realistic environment to learn the six basic flight instruments. Reading the instruments along with solving OIR is a great way to practice.

Stage 2 of CPSS

If the candidate successfully clears stage 1, then he/she is taken to a cockpit simulator where he/she is made to play some simple computer games using a Joystick and peddles. The joystick is a simple HOTAS. The hand-eye-foot coordination of the candidates is judged by the test. In general, there are 10 different games and 3 attempts are given to clear each game. A candidate requires a minimum score to clear each game.

How To Practice?

Anyone who has good hand-eye coordination can clear these tests easily. Those who can ride a bike or drive a car will find stage 2 a cakewalk. Gamers will also find the est very easy due to their hand-eye coordination ability.

So that was all about the CPSS test. We hope that this article will help you understand CPSS in a better way. Follow Defence XP for more such interesting articles.


Sheershoo Deb

I am a defense aspirant preparing to be an officer in the prestigious Indian armed forces. Earning the prestigious blue uniform is my dream.

One Comment

  1. Hi,
    My son is in 8th class, want to know what preparation we do to get admission in airforce

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