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Old 19th Feb 2012, 21:15   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Apr 2006
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SO Upgrade time

Hey all. Looking to apply for the SO position with CX and curious about what sort time one could expect before upgrade to FO and then on to Capt.

Current and qualified on B767/757
Over 3000 hours wide body world wide exp
5000 hrs ttl time.

Also, is it still a requirement to reside in HKG for the SO position?

Any insight is highly appreciated.
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Old 19th Feb 2012, 21:26   #2 (permalink)
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Really!? No wonder this "career" is fkd. But to answer your question, 4-5 years to fo, then another 10+ to capt. Good luck, I hope you get it.
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Old 19th Feb 2012, 21:54   #3 (permalink)
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You're right on the money about this "career". I jut got my furlough letter from my company and to say the least, things are ugly right now. Thanks for the info.
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Old 19th Feb 2012, 23:22   #4 (permalink)
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Any insight is highly appreciated
With your experience check out EK or a recruitment agency.

Much better jobs available to you than iCadet.
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Old 19th Feb 2012, 23:50   #5 (permalink)
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Yes, you'll have to live in HKG, probably for all of what passes for your 'career', on a very sub-standard housing package.

Due to under-resourced and incompetent Company administration of tax issues, bases are off the radar for the moment, with thousands of pilots senior to you even if they do become available.

If your bullshite filter is working properly, a good trawl of the related 'Wannabes' forum will be very revealing. I agree that the Middle East would be a far better option for you.

Good luck.
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Old 20th Feb 2012, 02:34   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks fellas. I'm working on Air Japan and KAL as we speak. I'm also looking into the Mid East. The two asian carriers seem to be a better fit in terms of commute and not having to up-root the family, yet again.

Indeed, 'wannabes' forum does shed some, not so not appealing, light on the whole SO deal. Still have some self respect left to go down that path.
Thanks again.
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Old 20th Feb 2012, 02:50   #7 (permalink)
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Hong Kong
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Good Man

Glad to see you've been able to filter the information from your research. If you're working for KAL & Air Japan, you'll understand the cost of living issues in a city like HK.

Although commuting as an SO is not impossible, it's hard work. That only leaves living in HK without the expat package (not easy even for a young single person). Judging by your posts, you've been around the industry for a while, and have a family, so you're probably smart enough to make a sensible decision. Use that "self-respect" you have left and apply where your skills & experience will be properly valued.
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Old 20th Feb 2012, 13:55   #8 (permalink)
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Given the issues HK Immigration is having with granting Work Visa's for the iCadet's to be based in HKG, it would not surprise me if DEFO recruitment commences soon (on bases, probably in the USA).

It is probably worth applying for everything out there... and see what is offered.
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Old 20th Feb 2012, 13:59   #9 (permalink)
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Actually DEFO will be into HKG on the new C scale. No reason to hire guys onto bases if they get enough on the shitty deal they are offering into HKG . If there are guys with 5000TT, widebody, international ops FOs looking at the SO deal then I expect in the current climate they will have a few takers.
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Old 20th Feb 2012, 23:20   #10 (permalink)
Join Date: Mar 2001
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Why Bother with SO?

Why not try DEFO KA, they are recruiting, get on 330, do a bit of time then go HKA 380 in a couple of years? Just a thought, at your age much better use of time than wasting it as a CX SO.
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Old 21st Feb 2012, 10:19   #11 (permalink)

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Yes sirrrrrrr
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Old 21st Feb 2012, 17:27   #12 (permalink)
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No need to bother

I'm definitely looking into KA and also Air Japan. After reading what I've read about the CX SO position and talking to a few guys, to take on the job would be to bring down this 'career' to a lower standard of pay for what a pilot should be paid for his exp. No interest in taking part in that.
I was initially under the impression that there was some sort of a transition course to a quick upgrade (6 months) for typed guys with heavy time. Someone called it senior SO .
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Old 21st Feb 2012, 20:34   #13 (permalink)
Join Date: Oct 2005
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Sorry about the thread drift but is there anyone who was more info regarding the DEFO vacancy with Dragonair? What’s the deal? I thought they were integrated into CX now and were only hiring local cadets, hence my surprise.... Since when is this DEFO thing going on?

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Old 22nd Feb 2012, 01:21   #14 (permalink)
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to take on the job would be to bring down this 'career' to a lower standard of pay for what a pilot should be paid for his exp. No interest in taking part in that.
767QB, thanks for your integrity and fortitude. Thank-you for recognizing this i-cadet scam for what it is. Cheap labour.

Now how do we get the Gen-Y I-kids to be like you?

I wish you success in your job search.
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Old 22nd Feb 2012, 18:41   #15 (permalink)
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Location: hong kong
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Regarding "Quick Transiton" or Senior SO....I seriously doubt that would happen. Recruitment are known to make all kinds of promises but there has been several lawsuits regarding seniority "jumps" and the company knows it won't be tolerated.
Good luck....
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Old 22nd Feb 2012, 21:47   #16 (permalink)
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Check out this recent Cathay SO thread


With your time and experience, you really should look at the Middle East - I would look at Emirates first and Qatar second (Qatar will be adding 787s in June and your 767 experience could be viewed as valuable - you never know if you could be considered for it - I would apply regardless...).

In case you had not seen this recent post by a Qantas Link Q400 FO who turned down the Cathay SO selection process recently (I think December), please review below (copied and pasted it) as it is enlightening (the old "golden" Cathay package is no more) with regard to cost and lifestyle in Hong Kong:

Why I turned down Cathay Pacific (SO Transition)

I had been offered an interview for the Second Officer Transition course with Cathay Pacific and I had made the decision to turn them down.
I would like to convey to you all the reasons why I have turned them down in the hope that this will help other pilots going for the job with their decision.

Please be aware that I turned this down several months ago...but the information is still valid.

About two years ago, a similar thread was written by someone who had also turned down Cathay. This was very well written, however, my writing skills are certainly not as good, so please bear with me. A few things have changed at Cathay since that post was written, so I wanted to try and give some of you an update as to why this offer is still not particularly enticing.

That thread (as far as Im aware) was for one of the longer courses, however this one is purely about the 12 week SO Transition course.
I still maintain that the long course (and the lower pay) is still an excellent way to go for someone with no flying experience. The 4 years as an SO can be pretty much considered your GA (general aviation) time, and is well suited to someone in their early 20's. However, for someone who is older and has experience, it is
a different story.

But I will do my best to explain it to you. Please also note that I have conducted an ENORMOUS amount of research into this...(I dont suffer from shiny jet syndrome).

Because I operate in Australia, there are alot of references and comparisions to Australia and Australian based airlines. Although this may not be of much use to people from other countries, there are a huge amount of Aussies and Kiwis that look at Cathay, so this is more based for them.

I am an 31 year old guy single guy living in Australia. I have approx 3000TT and am currently an FO on a Q400 Dash8 based in Sydney and flying throughout News South Wales and Victoria. I am looking at a command within the next 2 months, so life is good right now.

Although there are many low-time guys out their who are not in the same "boat" as I am, I do believe that there are many experienced guys out there that are having a good look at Cathay as a career path. I hope that what I have discovered helps provide some insight for them.

Throughout my career Cathay Pacific has always been my goal and my target. "One day Im going to be living the Cathay dream!!!" This is what I always used to say to my flying buddies.

A while ago, I was invited to an interview with Cathay Pacific. I was very excited, but also cautious as I had always followed the Fragrant Harbour thread and was aware of the new Terms and Conditions at Cathay. However, there was so much junk posted on PPRuNe about the money that I rang up the recruitment department to get the figures straight from them.

I know that these figures have been mentioned time and time again, however for the purpose of this post I will list them again.

Second Officer Total Package
This includes a 875,000HKD "loan" that is forgiven after 6 years and is available to So Transition pilots.
I have taken this amount, divided it by 6 years and then by 12 months to include it in my monthly salary. Please note I have not included any portion of the forgiveable loan in the FO salary as I reakon that I would have spent it all by then.
This is pretty much everything you get, except for the local currency given to you for food on a layover

Year 1: 60,839 HKD a month (50,497 after tax)
Year 2: 66,783
Year 3: 72,139
Junior FO: 83,287
First Officer: 93,496

Please note that this is pre-tax dollars. You will need to take out approximately 17% of the abovementioned figures to get the real figure. It has been mentioned that tax on your first year is a "once off double amount", however, as I was looking at Cathay as a career move I chose not to take that into account.

A little while ago, the famous Housing Allowance was discontinued for new hires, and was replaced by a "Hong Kong Pilot Allowance" of 10,000HKD a month for SO and Junior FO and 14,000HKD a month for FO. Please note that this has already been put into the above figures.

The old Housing Allowance was (and I may not be correct to the dollar) about 30,000(ish)HKD per month for your first year and went up to approx 70,000(ish)HKD per month after 4 years. This basically allowed guys to live "rent free" whilst at Cathay. Some would then buy a place and this Housing Allowance would simply pay off their mortgage for them. After 20 odd years at Cathay, these guys had enjoyed a salary similar to major airlines in the developed world, whilst living rent free and having Cathay pay off their mortgage for them.

The current Pilot Allowance of 10,000 a month, then 14,000 a month...then up to 36,000 a month after about 20 years with Cathay simply will not allow you to do this.
Unlike the old Housing Allowance, this new 'Pilot Allowance' is not factored into inflation - which means as inflation occurs annually, the value of the 'Pilot Allowance' becomes less and less.

Ive accepted that the days of all the old A scalers and B scalers is over....so I think to myself..."No problem, I just want to be comfortable and live a nice lifestyle". So I looked at rent and buying a place as well.

With a roomie, I found some nice places in DB (Discovery Bay). These were about 800-900 square feet, 2 bed and 2 bathroom for about 28,000HKD a month. These places were not really flash, but they wernt dodgy, they were about normal, and in a half decent area. So paying 14,000HKD a month each, that is 30% of my salary going just to rent.
And that is with a roomie paying the other half! But thats no problem....because you are not an SO for life, so I looked long term as an FO (it takes about 5 years to get to FO after joining). By then I will prob have a wife and maybe one or two kids. So I'll need a bigger place. Moving away from DB and going to some other cheaper areas I found some nice 1200 square feet, 3 bedroom 2 bathroom places for about 35,000HKD a month. On my FO wage of 93,496 a month that is still 35% of my salary!!

So I looked at buying a place....

The first 2 bedroom place for 28,000HKD a month cost 7,500,000HKD to buy (about 925,000AUD). The mortgage repayments with only 2.75% interest was only 25,000HKD a month! Not too bad, me thinks......but then I looked at the deposit required. 30%....that is 2,250,000HKD (about 280,000AUD)!!!!

Boys, I dont have that sorta money. I spent the first half of my 20's funding my flying training and have only come out of GA a coupla years back.No probs...I'll save for it!!

Saving consistently for 7 years (for the deposit for the first smaller 2 bedroom apartment) will cost me about 26,000HKD a month. I cant do it....looking at my SO salary, the numbers just wont add up. I'll have to wait 5 years until Im an FO to really start saving, but by then, I might need that bigger apartment I was mentioning earlier....

After some "mini saving" as an SO and some "bigger saving" as an FO, I will be ready to put down the deposit on the bigger place for my family probably about the time that I am getting close to command. It will have taken me about 10-11 years to save for the deposit for my first place. I'll be 42 years old and entering into a 20year mortgage.

Boys....Im an Aussie and owning our own place is a big "psychological must" for us. I love flying, and Id love to fly for Cathay......but I didn't get into this gameto be able to finally afford a small apartment at 42 years old and still be paying it off by the time I reach 60.

For a bloke with experience, going into an airline as an SO can be a hard thing. Not only do you have to sit and watch the other guys do the fun stuff, but you are also effectively tying yourself to that airline until you get a good 1-2 years of experience as an FO as most airlines throughtout the world do not accept P3 time. (That's SO time). If I started flying for Cathay today it means that no other major airline would really look at my "Cathay jet time" until I had been there for about 6-7 years.

I dont have any jet time, and without jet time, your options througout the world with other carriers can be very very limited. If I joined Cathay, my other options (or escape route) would be still be unobtainable for 6-7 years from today. For a bloke with about 3000TT and coming up for a Q400 command, my prospects outside of Cathay are pretty good. I have Virgin and Jetstar at home, or other LCC A320 carriers throughout Asia that pay ok, but will give me a command within 2-3 years. The pay then is very good....and if you combine that with living in a developing country, your lifestlye goes up, your overheads go way down, and you save a fortune!!
Other options then include the big boys like Emirates, Etihad, Vietnam Airlines etc etc....

Other expenditures:
Other things in Hong Kong can in fact be quite cheap. Like Singapore, HKG is a city where you have the ability to live rather frugaly or spend a fortune. I have lived in plenty of different countries throughout Europe, Scandinavia and Asia. I dont need to spend a fortune on western food. I eat the local tucker in the outside resturants. This is great because:
1. It is cheap
2. I am cheap
3. It is healthy, and
4. I hate cooking (because I am lazy).

Other costs such as mobile phone, electricity, water and household items such as dishwashing liquid, soap etc are all about the same as you would find in Oz, NZ, UK and Singas.

Public transport is dirt cheap, so you definately save money on not having a car.

You would most likely not be able to live like a local completely. So you will probably have, or indulge in, a couple of home tastes. These of course will be very expensive, but essential for the expat.

So to conclude.
If you choose to go down the SO transition path you will be working for an excellent airline, that will provide you with a clear and defined career path.
Unfortunately, however, whilst the money is still the same, the absence of the Housing Allowance means that you will be getting paid the same amount of money that you would at Virgin Australia or Jetstar to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world, with some of the highest housing costs in the world. If it was direct entry FO, you would probably do it as, after 2-3 years you can bugger off to Emirates, Vietnam etc, or back home. But as an SO, you are going to be there for a long long time until you can get out, and not take a hit in your career.

Living in Hong Kong on the current package that Cathay Pacific offers will provide you with a comfortable lifestyle. You probably wont need to eat noodles every night, but you wont be able to live the Hong Kong expat version of the CUB (cashed up bogan)!!
You will survive, you will exist.

Im not afraid to live outside Australia and I dont really miss my Mummy and get homesick. But if Im going to live in another country, I dont want to just survive. I dont want to just exist. I want to live a slightly nicer lifestyle than I can back home. But this current package wont allow me to do that.....so then I ask myself...whats the point in giving my career to Cathay??? If they are paying the same amount as Virgin and Jetstar, then it kinda defeats the purpose of going to Cathay in the first place!!!

Cathay Pacific is not a career building airline.....it is a career airline. If you go there, you need to go there for a long time to get any worth out of it, and the job would be great, but the money......that is what stopped me.

Im sure that many reading this would disagree with what I have said, however, I am sure that many would agree. I do not want to discourage people joining Cathay as I still believe that it is a great airline and I do hope, that one day, I may get to work for them. But at the end of the day, after your flying to San Francisco for the 115th time, staying in the hotel there for the 115th time, then flying back home to HKG for the 823rd time, its not the job that matters....its the money and the lifestyle....and on the current offering, Cathay Pacific would not be able to provide me with the moderate lifestyle that I would want to live in an asian country.

I think Cathay would be an awesome place to work.....but the removal of the Housing Allowance.....it killed it for me. It killed my Cathay dream.

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Old 23rd Feb 2012, 01:28   #17 (permalink)
Join Date: Dec 1998
Posts: 119
...wow... That is the most concise, succinct and heart rending letter i've read in a long time. The sad thing is, he tried to give CX every benefit of doubt in his calculations of cost of living, etc. The reality is that ALL costs would be considerably higher than his optimistic estimates. CX has managed to turn the airline into one that no thinking,analytical pilot would touch with a ten-foot pole. Shame on those who have brought it to this point. One last thing: his comment that 'Ive accepted that the days of all the old A scalers and B scalers is over'... Notice he lumps B scale in the same category as A scale. To all you B scalers, take note. Management is looking to devalue your career terms, not bring them up to A scale. There is truly a day of reckoning approaching for all of us, and each and every one of us had better be ready to lay it all on the line. This is not a game.
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Old 23rd Feb 2012, 12:33   #18 (permalink)
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Very heartfelt, inciteful and refreshingly honest stuff here.

WATER CHECK....... I hear you, and this is a question not a challenge; who do you mean when you say

QUOTE ---- "Shame on those who have brought it to this point" UNQUOTE?

SILBERFUCHS......... I agree that:-

QUOTE---- "G day workers are self serving" UNQUOTE; But....I don't criticise that. Nobody else will serve you or your family, even those idealists who hope for success from a democratic Band of Brothers, Union - we're too disparate a group: geographically, culturally, financially etc(ally).

But I'm fascinated and relieved to find someone else who feels negatively critical of:-

QUOTE---- " those who routinely call in unfit " ----UNQUOTE

The concept of "Personal Roster Adjustments" is very often alluded to or directly stated within this forum and seen by the authors as striking some kind of a blow for ????? The consequences are either that someone else is inconvenienced or the militants dream that a flight is cancelled. If we look at a hypothetical case where that happens - does anyone really imagine that this will up B to A, preserve B, Gain Housing, negate C .... whatever. Pipe Dream.....

Solution: Get a Hobby, Have a Beer, Throw another shrimp on the Barbie. Life is short and good enough.
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Old 23rd Feb 2012, 14:13   #19 (permalink)
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Paradise
Posts: 180
White None & SF: couldn't agree more! I can't abide the serial offenders who have "selective PRA syndrome" either.

We all know the type... only seem to go sick for CST sim or a Singas red-eye, but always manage to front up for the 5 day Romes !!

PRAs are all good and well, but folks have to remember - it aint the fairy godmother who does these trips!

And yes, G day workers should be flayed with razor wire and have their wounds rubbed with the faeces of ebola-infected swamp rats. The amount of money in lost (reserve) overtime these "sell-themselves-cheap-at-the-expense-of-their-mates" [email protected] have cost me woud pay off the Greek national debt.

The irony is, they themselves would make more in the long run if they ceased the G-day shennanigans.

Last edited by superfrozo; 23rd Feb 2012 at 14:17. Reason: speeling
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Old 23rd Feb 2012, 14:33   #20 (permalink)
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Europe
Posts: 1,478
I think the Cathay SO programme could work for some - if you already live with your parents in Hong Kong and housing is not a big issue (i.e., you have some wealth). Sure, small pool of people but there may be some who qualify. Lucky people!!!
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