I have a question regarding the SIA Cadet Pilot Programme:
If a cadet is chopped from the programme based on poor performance or lack of qualities (i.e. failing exams, unable to learn quickly enough etc.), does he or she need to pay back all the corresponding training costs to SIA? If so, how much would that be in a worse-case scenario right at the end of training, i.e. chopped in the LearJet-stage?
Is this also the case for Cathay Pacific Cadet Pilots?
I know in case of the KLM ab-initio programme, although it´s actually a self-sponsored programme via a loan and offers no job guarantee, it does offer an insurance (called ´garantiefonds´) that takes care of the financial aspects, basically freeing the chopped cadet from financial liability. Also in case of Lufthansa the company rather than the cadets turns up for the costs. Does something similar exist at SIA or Cathay?
In SIA's cadet pilot program, if you are terminated/chopped by SIA for any reason, you are not liable to pay for any liquidated damages, no matter which phase you are in. BUT for example, halfway through the training program you find that this career is not what you had in mind, or maybe family issues are too much for you to handle etc, and YOU terminate the contract and quit on your own accord, you will be liable to pay for all liquidated damages. So, consider properly before embarking on this journey because life as a cadet is not easy, and quitting halfway through is a waste of time and effort. Just my $0.02 worth.
I am not familiar with the other airline's ab-initio cadet pilot program. I know that Qantas offer something similar to what you mentioned about KLM. Just a question, if the cadets are self-sponsoring their own flight training, what other financial liabilities are there when they get terminated?
The costs to be repaid depends on how far the cadet has gone. If you leave before (eg) you complete your contract as a first officer the sum is near SGD300, 000, pro-rated to how much is outstanding. If you have done say 5 years of the 7, then you pay back the 2 years balance.
If you are chopped before completing flying school, the amount to be repaid is near SGD100, 000.
Having said that, if you are chopped because you just are not suitable, you pay nothing. There have been cases of people getting chopped after 2 years of going through flying school and Learjet training in the middle of B744 second officer training. They paid back nothing.
There have also been cases of Australians, after receiving training as first officers (joining with CPLs / ATPLs and GA experience), who ran off because they just didn't feel like serving out their bond anymore. SIA has been mostly successful in bringing these people to court and getting their money back.
If your concern is, as you put it, "failing exams, unable to learn quickly enough", rest assured you ARE given more than a fair go. Your fellow cadets and the instructors are very helpful in this area, if you just ask for help. At the same time you are also expected to put in the required effort. SIA also have a limit on how many times you may fail the CAAS papers. So in this light, if you get chopped in spite of your own BEST efforts, you pay nothing.
However if you want to test them by appearing to fail because you have lost interest or after deciding yourself that you want to do something else, then it is unlikely you will get away with it. They are not hosting a wine tasting event, to put it mildly.
So in other words, if you truly want to fly, FOR SIA, (note emphasis on FOR SIA), then apply as a cadet. Have no worries about the payback if you can't make it after putting in genuine effort.
On the other hand, if you want to join but already start planning your exit strategy, then it is best not to waste your time even applying. It will not work.
Thanks 9V and ThermalImage for your responses. It has been very helpful.
ThermalImage: On the other hand, if you want to join but already start planning your exit strategy, then it is best not to waste your time even applying. It will not work.
Of course I am not planning an exit strategy. If you really want to fly for SIA (I am aware of the negative attitude towards them in some of the threads, but still want to), you will and should put your best effort in. This way I am sure, once selected, one should be able to complete the programme. If you can, you can! I always believe in ones own capacities.
However, to get back to the KLM Flight Academy case, despite the rigorous selection process, a small percentage of cadet pilots do get chopped, based on their poor performance during training. This means that the selection process is not 100 percent accurate, which is understandable. Of course the selection process should give a good indication as to whether or not the cadet is able to complete the program, but is never a guarantee. This can also be the case for a SIA cadet.
In order to give a reason for me asking the financial liability question, I will first answer 9V: Just a question, if the cadets are self-sponsoring their own flight training, what other financial liabilities are there when they get terminated?
Cadets accepted by the KLM Flight Academy, accept a loan offered by one of the banks coorperating with the school. Which is about Euro 111.300 or about USD $130.000 plus another 20.000 for board and lodging. During several stages, a part of this sum of money is collected by the KLM FA from the bank, ultimately taking the complete sum, after training is completed.
If a person gets chopped during the course, the 'garantiefonds' will take care of the financial aspect. Not only when the cadet appeared to be incapable of completing the course, or due to medical reasons, but also when YOU decide it not the career path for you after all and want to quit(this is on paper, however the reality is of course not that simple...). Part of the 111.300 euro is put in the guarantee-fund, by every cadet. If one gets chopped, money is drawn from the guarantee-fund in order to cover all your depts. This means that one can continue ones life without having the bank that provided you a huge sum of money, breathing down your neck.
The reason for my concern however is:
Many people I know from the Netherlands, have completed the KLM FA succesfully. However, the name KLM Flight Academy is a bit misleading. The school is in fact a separate commercial company. Completing the KLM FA does not guarantee a job with KLM mainline (Lufthansa and Air France School on the other hand do!). After completing the programme, one's file is offered to the KLM and the selection process starts again. After inspection of your file, there's 2 days worth of psychological testing. After that, if you make it, there's 2 days grading and after that an in-depth interview with the KLM board. About 20-25 percent of the cadets are not accepted. Leaving them with about USD 150.000 in depts. If they were accepted by KLM, they could quite comfortably pay back the loan. However, they are rejected. Good enough for the KLM FA but not for KLM.
They are in fact chopped at the end of training. Of course they do obtain their frozen ATPL but many have a very hard time getting a different flying position in a different airlines. After all, why were you not accepted by KLM? Etc.
Now they are just low-timers, trained the KLM way in a very competative market. Of course there are many Self Sponsored Pilots in the same position, but all I am trying to say is that in case of KLM a 'cadet' program can be of great risk.
Thank you for your explanation and providing the context for it.
Yes, by all means if you are applying in earnest, then you have my best wishes and encouragement. There is ABSOLUTELY no need to concern yourself about paying SIA back should you not make the grade if your intentions are consistently sincere and you show best efforts.
Yes, you are correct in saying that the SIA selection process is possibly not 100% reliable. Maybe about 10% get chopped. At this time the Flying College is 100% owned by SIA. But it is also possible that they may be privatised and open their doors to start training for profit. In such a scenario it would be in their interest to do the KLM FA arrangement. After all, it's no longer their business to insist that their graduands are employed and someone has to pay the training bills.
Regarding the issue of a guranteed (pilot) job; historically there have been cases of cadets being offered flight attendant jobs because demand did not quite take up the supply available. But those days were shortlived (relative to the total career lifespan of those affected) and they were soon flying again. At no time did they have to pay SIA back for that cockup. In worst cases those affected just left, without having to repay the training costs.
But not getting a job (in the situation you described) isn't really the same as "being chopped", as far as it concerns the SIA situation. Choppees from the SIA cadet scheme get nothing (no ATPL or even a PPL), in the KLM situation at least they still have the frozen ATPL.
Anyway, our cadet scheme carries no such risk of financial ruin (at least not arising from school fees; some cadets did accquire gambling habits in Perth which has now ruined them years later). The cadets don't have to go Dutch (yes, bad pun). Join us if you are so motivated. Every batch has several foreigners, and they are not just Malaysians.
Thanks for the explanation about the KLM FA cadet program. It's smart of you to enquire about such aspects. Good information is the basis of good decisions. Thermal Image has covered most of the questions you asked. Live your dreams!
I would like to thank you 9V and Thermal Image for sharing this information. It proves vital for my decision to embark on a undoubtly difficult yet rewarding career path.
I meet all the requirements in order to file an application for the SIA CPP, except I am not a Singapore PR, but an EU-citizen. Therefore I will first have to find a Singapore-based employer, emigrate to Singapore and obtain an Employment Pass. Then after six months, I can apply for a Singapore PR. Hopefully I will obtain one, allowing me to participate in the SIA Cadet Pilot selection-process.
I know this plan is a difficult one to accomplish and requires some radical changes in ones life, but I am sure I am not the first. However, I need to be fully aware of all the risks involved, if possible.
I know that plans to become a pilot do not necessarily have to be this far-fetched, considering I am from the EU. But besides wanting to be a pilot for several reasons, not only it being just a dream, I have, amongst others, a very special reason and unique motivation to fly for Singapore Airlines in particular. This fuels my determination to set out on this path.
Your determination, motivation and willingness to sacrifice is commendable. I do not know much about the immigration issues that might arise for your plan. But I am still a cadet, so feel free to PM me if you have any questions regarding the cadet program, I'll try my best to answer them. All the best, and keep that fire burning.