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Home > Becoming a Pilot > How to become a pilot in the USA as compared to the Asian regions?
How to become a pilot in the USA as compared to the Asian regions?
Pilot Career - Becoming a Pilot
Wednesday, 02 January 2008 20:06

Hello,

I found your site and want to comment on your answers to becoming an airline pilot as it is very different in the USA when compared to other countries. From your reply, it seems that you address the question from the standpoint of someone who is not from the USA. The asker you replied to lived in the USA (was in the US Air Force actually).

US Airlines do not have 'cadet' programs. Airlines expect pilot candidates to have already build up flight experience via the civilian or military sector. The regional carriers require applicants to have at least 1,000 hours of flight time, while the majors require a minimum of at least 2,500 hours. Competitive applicants often have 3-4 times this much experience respectively. Major carriers do not select 'cadets' and train them from zero time to fly. So, the cadet idea does not apply to aspiring US pilots.

The only thing we have close to that concept in the USA are 'academy' type programs. These 'flight academies' take zero flight time aspiring pilots and put them through their Commercial, Multi-engine license and about 300-500 hours. Once they complete these very expensive programs, which cost about $60-80K USD, they are then offered an interview only with that academy 'affiliated' regional airline (a carrier that has agreed to take graduates of that school at very reduced qualifications). These programs do not guarantee a job, but many take the chance that they will be selected in the interview process as that is the only way they can get an airline job without at least 1,000 hours flight time. It's a short cut for those who are successfully interviewed and are offered a position, but this doesn't happen to every one. Also, there are many pilots in the airline industry who resent these academy graduates as they are considered to have 'bought their job' and not earned it like the other pilots who must have had the 1,000 hours to apply..

"Most major Airlines are unlikely to recruit pilots without an aircraft rating."

Not sure what you mean by 'aircraft rating' in that statement (the British use it too and I am unclear). Every airline will train their successful pilot applicants in specific equipment. The only carrier in the US that requires a type specific aircraft rating to get hired is Southwest Airlines. If you want to work there, you must first have a Boeing 737 type rating.

Like you, I have also taken up the project of a web page to help inform people about flying. Perhaps my page can provide more insight on the aspiring pilot path for those in the USA.
http://www.geocities.com/av8trxx99/FAQ.html

I think you have done a great job creating your page. I also created my page as a beginner 6 years ago and enhanced it along the way. Over time, you definitely get to be a better webmaster!

D. A. Norkus, First Officer,
American Eagle @ Los Angeles.

Hi Dorothy,

Thank you for your email. Yes, I am from Asia and tends to answer questions from the standpoint of someone who is not from the USA. Most of the queries I get are from aspiring pilots who are interested in airlines such as Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, some Middle Eastern Airlines, Indian Airlines and to a lesser extent, airlines or carriers from the USA, United Kingdom and Australia.

It is true that becoming an airline pilot in the Asian region is generally different than those in the USA. In the US and some First World (politically incorrect?) countries, the aviation industry tends to be more developed (wonder whether this is an advantage or disadvantage to aspiring pilots) and those who want to become an airline pilot have to follow a more difficult route like the one you have described. Most airlines there do not have 'cadet' programs, training them from zero time and absorb them into the system.

You mentioned that the 'academy' type program in the US as being quite close to the 'Cadet' program and stated that, this short-cut route is being resented by some pilots who have to build up 1000 of hours to apply; well, you may have a moot point there. Have they 'bought their jobs? Not really! Some airlines here would require them to pay back a certain proportion of their scholarship (good for those who do not have the financial means but have very good ability) whilst others would make them to enter into a bond (especially with the airlines in the Asian regions).

I have flown with many such young First Officers and some were very good in handling and operating the airplane (especially the Boeing 777s) despite their youth. This has often been the envy of some older First Officers (who came through the hard way) of some major airlines. My view of why these 'academy' or 'cadet' program trained pilots are great is that they are groomed to be good airline pilots right from the start, whereas some of those who have to gather their flying hours from the general aviation may have learned some habits that are difficult to untrain when they are eventually absorbed into major airlines. I am not defending them. You see, I was not as lucky as they are because I did not join a major airline through this cadet or academy path.

Well, it is refreshing to have someone from the USA, who can contribute more to what I have been trying to do from an Asian point of view.

For those who are interested to fly in the USA, here is the
link to more information on Becoming a Pilot in the USA.

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