Old 19th Jan 2021, 13:57
  #1 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: VHHH
Posts: 20
Wannabe pilot from Hong Kong. Need your wisdom regarding career path

(This is my first post in the whole website. Sorry if it's cringeworthy! My next post will be better.)

I am a Hong Kong local and currently I am in secondary 4 so I still have 2 years to think about my career path before starting any flight training or university or whatever. Currently, I am aware of three paths to enter the industry. I have been lurking around the forums for several months to gather info before writing this post so I hope the information I write here isn't incorrect. I believe this thread can help other wannabe pilots in a similar situation as I do to make a choice too.

(1) Cathay Pacific cadet pilot programme - This is one of the most straightforward ways to enter (as far as I know), but I am not sure about the exact difficulty of the selection process, been hearing mixed comments about that. However, I am not sure that I can handle several years (I think maybe 10 years at worst) of warming the jumpseat and making the bunk for captains and FOs. My current plan regarding this route is to jump to another airline (such as HKA, I found information of a deal for SOs wanting to actually fly a plane) after 5-15 years or so when I finally get a JFO upgrade and start racking up hours besides those from the initial training. Hopefully by then the market will have recovered and there would be plenty (but probably not too much) job opportunities. I am not expecting a career at CX, just using it as a low-cost stepping stone for flying in other airlines. The thing that bugs me most is the lack of information regarding the selection process, should I choose this route, as the CX CPP megathread is filled with "cAn I jOiN a StUdY gRoUp PlZ" and (presumably) outdated information from 2017 or earlier.

(2) HKA cadet pilot programme - almost the same as CX except from the infographics published by HKA you get a promotion to FO as soon as you get a HKCAD ATPL, as seniority is not mentioned when regarding upgrades to FO (unlike upgrades to Captain). I currently consider this to be the best option (feel free to correct) as I can both fly a plane and enter the industry at a substantially lower cost. I am not sure when will this programme be reopened though, it only started a few years ago and like many other sponsored training programmes got knocked out by COVID.

(3) Self-fund my training - Not too sure about this one, since I will more likely than not be using parent's money or taking a loan (option rejected after reading about jobless CPL holders in India). As for school choice, I am leaning towards an integrated course by L3 or one of the aviation degrees which include flight training in various universities in Australia. As for post-training hour building I am thinking about getting an instructor rating to grind 1500-3000 hours, then using the hours to apply to a LCC/regional airline at whatever region/country/continent I did my training in, before using the jet hours I built to apply to a major. I am also aware of the direct entry second officer program at Singapore Airlines, and reading the details I consider it to be a great way to jumpstart my airline career if I am lucky enough to hit an application window for all nationalities. Of course I am being optimistic when thinking about that and things will almost certainly go wrong. Countries that I think I may be doing flight training include: US, Australia, New Zealand. The Europe route is rejected because it is too expensive.

I need the collective wisdom of the forum. Also, I would like to ask a few questions that will help me pick a path and plan my flying career in general:
(a) What is the current SO to JFO upgrade time at CX? According to some posts I read on Fragrant Harbour it is at 6-7 years. Any new estimates?
(b) How is the GA scene in the US/Australia/NZ like? Are low hour pilot employers and flight schools willing to hire expat flight instructors? Visas are probably not going to a big problem if I do the training through aviation degrees. For Australia, I may have up to 5 years for hour building under the temporary graduate (Subclass 485) visa. (Feel free to correct me if I don't qualify for that 5 years visa using an aviation degree)
(c) Probably the most important out of these three questions. What is a BMI/waist length limit for a Class 1 medical? A number above which will have a high risk of getting denied a medical. A number for reference. From what I have read having a 30+ BMI causes risk of being disqualified. I got this number when researching about the medical and found this number and the article is about the UK CAA medical. At least I have a number for reference.

Oh and I forgot an option for a flying career
(4) Government Flying Service - From what I have read the physical requirements are just Class 1 medical + no myopia/astigmatism. How do airlines view helicopter time and applicants coming from the GFS (in general)? I can find little information on the GFS application page, it seems to be last updated in 2016, and almost all discussion on Chinese language forums regarding a career at GFS revolves around the application process and "gOiNg 4 aSsEsSmEnT wIsH mE lUcK". My plans for picking this route would be stay for 9-15 years to get all the hours I want and probably leave for the major airlines.

My current priority for the career routes as of writing, as it is subject to change after reading your replies: (2) > (1)* > (3) > (4)*
*: only going to try the application process once

Any advice is welcomed, and I am sure this thread can help me and other wannabe pilots make better career choices. Your perspective, regardless of what stage of career you are at, can help me plan a career. Thank you to everyone for replying!
- Sleepsleep
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