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What Asian Cadet Pilot Program is available to an American pilot wannabe?
Pilot Career - Cathay Pacific Airways
Written by Capt Lim   
Monday, 03 October 2011 04:31

A Regional Airline Pilot

Hi Captain Lim,

My name is Jason. I'm an American-born Chinese, currently a high school student in the U.S. I'm doing well in school and since 5th grade, I've always wanted to become a pilot.

I plan to apply to the University of North Dakota and by the time I graduate I will have the following:
  • Private Pilots License
  • Commercial Pilots License w/instrument/multiengine ratings
  • Certified Flight Instructor Certificate
  • Around 300 hours logged
  • It will bring me close to getting my FAA ATP
What I don't like about aviation in the U.S. is that after you graduate, you can only become the first officer of a small regional jet and small turbo props. It takes many years just to move up to a higher position.

How do people in the U.S. move from the regional carriers to major airlines and how long does it take you to get a type rating for a popular aircraft (Ex: 737, 747, A320)

I prefer working with Asian carrier in the future. But all the job openings I see for Asian airlines require a type rating in that specific aircraft with around 1000+ airline transport hours. They require you to have experience in flying that aircraft and the experience takes many years to get if you start off working as a first officer for a regional airline.

So I'm also considering a cadet program. What pilot cadet programs in Asia that will take in people from the U.S.?

I like the idea of the cadet program. You are guaranteed to fly for that airline and it doesn't take that long before you can move up to the heavies. Also, you can get the required hours and type ratings through a cadet program and then apply for other airlines.

In the U.S. it may take more than 10 years to do that. The problem is, will cadet programs accept you if you already have the licenses, certificates, and hours I mentioned above? Or do they really require no experience so they can train you the way they want you to?

If so, I may apply to a non-aviation related college and then apply to a cadet program in Asia in the future with no flying experience.

What do you suggest or think will be the best thing for me to do if I'm thinking of becoming a pilot for an Asian airline (EVA, KAL, ANA) in the future?

Thanks for taking your time to read this and understand my situation.

Jason

Hi Jason,

In the USA, the pilot career is a fairly saturated field for those who dream to fly for any major airlines whereas the market is brighter in Asia. But then, most Asian countries would only employ and train their own cadet pilots if they are citizen of their respective countries - except for a few limited ones. Currently, only Cathay Pacific takes in foreign applicants if they meet their requirements (See here )

Pilots in the US get to join the major airlines after accumulating sufficient flying hours in the Regional airlines or other general aviation and it may take as long as 15 to 20 year. Some get the type ratings (B737, A320, etc) at their own expenses before applying for the airlines.

EVA, KAL and ANA are probably out of the question for you. At the moment only Cathay gives the best flexibility to a foreigner with 3 programs (see here):-

The three Second Officer entry programs are:

1. Cadet Pilot Program – a 61-week program for applicants with low experience and no ICAO CPL.
2. Advanced Entry – a 30-week program for applicants who possess an ICAO CPL and have in excess of 250 hours flight time in specified categories.
3. Transition Training – a 12-week program for applicants with an ICAO ATPL, or CPL with passes in all ICAO ATPL subjects, and with appropriate flying experience for the shorter training course.

Training is conducted at Flight Training Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia. Training consists of technical ground school, HK ATPL subjects and flight training. All programs introduce and/or consolidate jet aircraft operation, multi-crew operations, safety standards, efficient operation, passenger considerations and flight operation disciplines.

With the above program, you have the choice of joining with or without any aviation experience depending where you fit it.

I wish you all the bestalt.

PS. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my new Twitter at @CaptKHLim


Cathay Pacific B747 landing at Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport

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