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Old 26th Sep 2011, 09:20
  #12 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: SE Asia
Age: 47
Posts: 40
Current Conditions Tianjin Airlines

More information on Tianjin to help with your career decisions.


Flying around 85 hours a month. If your holidays fall in one month you will have two weeks off, two weeks working. You still fly 85 hours. Duty days with a three pilot crew routinely are 12+ hour days. You always have a third pilot in the jumpseat. And yes that is one crowded cockpit. Chinese pilots here fly about 900 hours a year average. But its fun to watch the f/o input things or change radio freqs into the FMS while the jumpseater is still trying to verify the flightplan and they fight over the FMS. Both f/o's are assigned duties. One is radio op and one is PNF. You as captain fly ALL legs and can hand off only in cruise. The schedulers are under orders and pressure to get 80 hours flying from you no matter what the case. You must constantly keep a record of your times because they WILL get you violated for overflying. Block times are impossible on some routed but that is what is needed to get you to fly under 8 hours for the day.

Almost all trips are day trips....BUT you are in TDY on outbases. You will be staying in a very dirty Chinese hotel and in some places like Xi'An there is nothing by the airport and a taxi is 120 RMB to the city center. Guys are staying a total of 14 days out stationed a month, meaning two 7 day periods in a dirty hotel. When I say dirty I mean third world dirty and not those nice Shangri-La's in Shanghai. The company is limited a certain amount for the hotel and even in Hong Kong they are not allowed over this limit. Do a search in Hong Kong and see what 55 US gets you. Then you may get two days off so you need to deadhead back to Tianjin. But you may or may not deadhead on the day you work. You deadhead on your day off. In by 3pm out by 3pm the next day. 24 hour rest period and really no day off and not enough time to do your laundry. The contract and company may say you are Tianjin based but you are continually out-based. This is a big problem now.

The company does not view deadheading, company meetings, and ground training as a "work day".

As always, your interview hotels are not an indicator of what you will get once online. The Xindu hotel in Tianjin is relatively clean. Did I mention some hotels don't have hot water in the morning? Don't worry you won't want to shower because the showers are rinsed clean only. You will see all sorts of fun colours from black mold to pretty pink and purple mildew colours. Rainbow colours in the morning with cold water. Its like Lucky Charms without the milk. Buy a nice pair of Croc's or don't bother taking a shower. The only pilots I have encountered who were happy here with the cleanliness were the ones coming from Bangladesh and India.

You will use Jep charts but they are not complete as they do not contain many of the departures or local operations information. Some of the Jep minimums are not even correct as the Chinese plates have lower altitudes. Your notams are mostly Chinese and you must rely and trust on your first officers to translate everything for you. You will fly some IOE flights into Chinese airports with no English speakers and everyone speaking Chinese. You are an incapacitated pilot barreling down an ILS. Normal line ops only operate to English speaking airports. Most OJT crew smoke in the cockpit and if you are a smoker you will be "permitted" to smoke in the cockpit. If you have ever flown up front near the cockpit on a Chinese airline you understand this.
There are many local procedures in Chinese airports and Tianjin first officers have them committed to memory. You must ask and hope you have a good f/o.

I went with one of my fellow pilots to pick up his new uniform. The storage facility had flooded the a few weeks prior due to a typhoon. There was no capability of drying out all the materials so they were stacked and sitting wet for weeks. I sat and laughed as my friend was handed shoes that were carpeted inside and out with yellow mold. A jacket and pants that had stains from mold discoloured the black into a two tone colour. As he tried on his uniform it did not fit at all with the crotch of the pants somewhere near his knee caps. He took one shirt and one pants only and told them he would buy his uniform. The airline is confused because they are giving you free, stained, moldy, unfitting uniforms and you are complaining? You are starting to get an idea of their thinking patterns.

Some contracts have international passes and jump-seats written into the contract within the Hainan group. The company is not honouring this agreement.

I talked with a contractor about Hainan group and was told arbitration has been successful against Hainan and although a judgement was made against Hainan there was no payout by the company made. Tianjin Airlines is Hainan Group.

The organization is non-existent. The company will ask you to attend a meeting in Tianjin while you are getting ready to get into a simulator in Sanya....on the same day. Everything is last second. There seems to be no outline in their training. People are online without work visas. One pilot took his ICAO English test several months after he was online. The day before the test he was asked to attend a meeting on the same day in a different city. The company's departments have no communication or interaction.

6/3 holidays are being split up by "company policy". You cannot take more than 2 weeks in one month. If you took 3 in one month then the next month you would have average time off, but they want all of you so 2 weeks in one month and your 7 day holiday in the next month. They seem to be liberal with allowing you to split your holidays up. IE taking two weeks at the beginning of this month and 1 week at the start of the next month. But this is not company policy and not contract policy so if it changes when you arrive I wash my hands clean of it.

How do you survive?

If you put your head down, work hard, and get out every chance you get you can keep your sanity. This contract would be best suited with people who have some third world country experience and are not afraid to stay in hostels.
The Chinese people can be very friendly and management is trying to dangle the carrot as best they can. I cannot stress how much they need pilots and the rate of pilots screening to the ratio of returning is not good. This is a work in progress and you must understand Chinese mentality and business negotiation to effectively defend the contract and make any headway. If you are a hard charging person without finesse you will get nowhere or maybe even a ticket home.

Where are they hiring?

Currently hiring in Tianjin for E145 and E190 but have been asking pilots if they would like to relocate to Xi'An. They have too many foreign pilots in Tianjin and not enough lines of flying here for foreigners. The CAAC and military restrict the routes available to fly by foreigners. (reason for the TDY) Naning has been mentioned as a possible future base. The A320 has not made firm plans yet. As the fleet grows it is possible you will experience out-basing too.

Why are they hiring

Just remember you are a contract pilot and as soon as you can be replaced you will be replaced. This is their country and rightfully so their pilots should be flying their planes. Wouldn't you expect the same of your home country? As with most of Asia they have a very long time for upgrade here and most pilots are looking at 8 - 9 years for first upgrade. This is coupled with explosive growth is causing their shortage of captains. As soon as they catch up you are out so think twice about that seniority number you are giving up.

Your life will completely change when you arrive in China. Lemons or Lemonade? Know yourself and your family before you choose.

Good Luck out there.

Last edited by pilotss2001; 14th Oct 2011 at 04:42. Reason: additional info
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