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The CTC Wings (Cadets) Thread - Part 2.

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The CTC Wings (Cadets) Thread - Part 2.

Old 16th Sep 2011, 18:30
  #3841 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2006
Location: London
Posts: 21
Just to provide a bit of balance to the doom and gloom merchants out there, and whilst not providing any inducement to blow 85k+ that people haven't got, I would say that CTC is still a reasonable proposition as a way to get into the airlines - without kicking off a debate on integrated vs modular or anything like that, I would say that for the moment it is considerably easier to get into a well paid jet job through CTC or Oxford than self improving at the moment - it does cost a lot more, but if you weigh the initial outlay against the improved earning potential (even on flexicrew - crummy for 8 months then pretty darned reasonable cash after that) compared to a few years of good experience/average pay doing other flying it probably all works out fairly even in the end.

The ctc holdpool still has people swimming about in it at present, but the queue is now much shorter than at it's peak. Word has it that the FO requirement at easyjet for 2012 is again going to be about 300, and though nowadays this is filled by a mix of parc and ctc, and the imminent recruitment of experienced FOs, that still offers opportunities for a lot of people, and movement to the majors (even captains at Ezy are moving across to the bottom of the BA seniority list) will most likely mean that this will continue into following years too. On top of this, I believe that less people are being squeezed through the fATPL sausage factory these days on account of the tougher access to cash, so the future availability (12-18 months from now) of cadets for placement is likely to be somewhat reduced.

Hopefully turboprop guys will soon start to get sucked up into jet jobs - this will reduce vacancies for cadets perhaps, but then again those Dash-8s aren't going to fly themselves either...

Having said all that, it's still a lot of money to scrape together, and the prospect of years of hefty loan repayments isn't all that appealing....and though there is an element of a money back guarantee at ctc and oxford, there is no certainty about making it on to the line as a shiny new FO until that final line check is signed off in your training file....
greenfreddie is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2011, 01:03
  #3842 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: London
Posts: 11
I have been through the CTC Integrated system and the Flexicrew system.

I will withhold any opinions about the way in which a person may fund their training. Enough opinions have been expressed and if a person gets money from one place or the other, that's their business. Those with privileges invariably use them, those without have to do something else, and flying is expensive. That's life.

In hindsight, what Donald Rumsfeld once said about AfPaq, "There are known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns" (to paraphrase) is relevant when starting training with CTC and, probably, any other FTO.

It's possible to get a reasonable amount of base information from places like this and any contacts you have in the industry. Flying is a pretty small world and I was surprised about who I came into contact with once I started training, and there are plenty of people going into training after their mates, so if you have sources of reasonable, informed opinion in the aviation industry, talk to them and listen to everything they say, then try to take a balanced view. There are always the hardened cynics, the realists, the optimists, the people who don't know anything else, the people who don't want to know anything else, and plenty of people with a vested interest (usually the FTOs and the airlines). Naturally, information will conflict and be skewed by the party's direct experience of the route they went down. You have to use your own judgement when listening to opinion.

If you are excited at the prospect of being a pilot and pass whatever selection you go through, put the brakes on. FTOs will try to get you signed up and on a course as fast as possible. This is not in your interests, whatsoever, in my experience. Pass selection, then defer as long as you can to earn as much money as you can, get your affairs in order and take legal advice before starting the course.

As others have said, have a plan B. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

Critically, you need to look at the contracts in detail, and pass them to a lawyer for an opinion. This, no doubt, will cost something. Why do this? Well, because it's highly likely that in your excitement and desperation to get into flight school, you'll barely stop to consider the actual meaning and potential implications of the multiple clauses in the contracts, and just as important, the scope of the contracts. Forewarned is forearmed and it's an insurance policy.

CTC provided initially 2 contracts. The first was for foundation training. The second for basic training. Foundation was to NZ PPL. Basic was to CPL/ME/IR. What they considered to be "Advanced Training" was Airline Qualification Course (AQC) which comprises multi-pilot CRM training on a jet (73 or 320). That was covered by another contract, only released a matter of 2 weeks or less before starting on the AQC. Type Rating was another separate contract. Flexicrew was another separate contract. All carefully released very close to when you were going to start the course, limiting one's ability to do anything with the contract. This compartmentalisation of contracts works only in the FTOs favour. It means that no matter what is said to you about the future, you can bank on nothing except what is covered in the currently relevant contract(s).

In practice, what does this mean? Well, if I showed my contracts to any lawyer, they would all laugh at me for having ever signed it. These contracts are some of the most heavily biased contracts you are likely to see. The power balance within the contract is literally 90% in CTCs favour. For example, there is a set of clauses which essentially says "CTC has the right to cancel all training with no refund if the cadet's behaviour, attitude or actions are not in keeping with what CTC deems appropriate for an airline pilot". There is absolutely no definition of acceptable behaviour whatsoever. The supposed 30k of protection for the cadet is practically meaningless because it is totally at CTC's discretion and there are no service levels set out by which to judge whether you are receiving adequate training. I could go on. Suffice to say, the contracts really add up to signing away all your money and rights while you are part of the program. I am not understating this in any way. Whether CTC exercise the full weight of their power is not the point - the game is heavily rigged in the their favour, and the relevance of every clause will not be fully apparent until you are in and spending money. You will be treated like a mushroom - kept in the dark and fed on shit every step of the way. They will answer the questions asked but you won't always know what questions to ask, or how good an answer you are actually getting.

If you are going iCP, I think it's worse. I know of one massive, ridiculous horror story that I cannot recount here, and possibly would not be believed were I to tell it, but I was there and saw it. Be prepared for CTC to try to get away with what it can until you stand up to it backed up by your lawyer. Not for the little nitty gritty, but for the big things. You'll know what they are when you're in the system... The recruitment tactic is to offer iCP to people who don't make it to the Wings standard (whatever the hell that actually is, these days).

Any legal disputes have been resolved out of court and were conditional upon the cadet signing a confidentiality (gagging) clause, which is why specific knowledge of the outcomes of various disputes are not really known and will pretty much never be bunged on a forum anywhere. Suffice to say, a minority of cadets either: left of their own accord in foundation; encountered difficulties in basic (inconsistent training delivery has a lot to do with this) and ultimately got binned (a handful); were allowed through to AQC but then deemed unsuitable for airlines and blocked from TR (less than a handful); got through TR and showed weird behaviour in the flightdeck or struggled in line training (landing a 320 being a sticking point for some) and got binned by the Airline (unsure how many in total, but occasional cadets are being binned from Line Training now). Most cadets made it all the way through to flexicrew. Plenty had some performance issue somewhere along the way and got some extra training and got through. Wings cadets didn't pay extra cash for remedial flights (within reason) but iCP guys had to pay for extra lessons and tests. Those costs can really add up.

CTC will never, ever admit to you as being a customer. They always describe the airline as the customer. They might spin you the line that your training is a "partnership" but that's just marketing spiel. Despite the fact that you are paying for your own training (forget any kind of "sponsorship", it's not and to believe this is to be grossly naive, I think it's primarily a descriptive term used for tax and employment law advantages), CTC will look at you always as "product". During training, you need to stay within the performance and behavioural boundaries for their product. If you do this, even if you encounter difficulties, you should make it out the other side. Leave your sense of expectations behind. You are paying to be trained on a performance curve based around the notion of minimum hours training, plus probably about 10%. If you perform below this level, you are not necessarily a bad pilot, you are just becoming less profitable to train. CTC has budgeted a profit margin into your 85k training costs. There's some slack in there of perhaps 5-10% for some extra training, but there's not a lot before their target profit earnings start to be affected. If you can't show that any repeated performance issues are to do with how CTC is delivering your training (or not), the contracts allow them to bin you at their discretion with no refund if they feel like it.

Make no mistake, risk in this training system is contracted down almost entirely on to the cadet. If your family home is underpinning your loan, the risk runs all the way down to your inheritance.

If you understand this and can accept, mitigate and deal with it without emotion, you will be better off. My advice is have access to a good lawyer, and get everything of importance from CTC in writing. If it is not in writing, it was never said. Ensure that your performance records are accurate and any meetings you may need to have are recorded in detail, accurately. Keep copies of all of your training reports from every stage. Follow the chain of command for raising grievances or problems and always do it in writing, professionally. Never lose your cool with CTC representatives. You may need to rely on all of this one day to survive. If you have it all and never need it, it was good insurance. If you have it and need it, it's better. If you don't have it and do need it, you are your own worst enemy. I have seen enough examples of very hooky performance management in NZ to last me a lifetime.

There is also a situation that you may encounter, that goes like this:

You are on day 1 of the Bournemouth Instrument Rating, having completed the NZ phases of training. A CTC representative gives you an envelope with a letter in it, that you "must sign in order for us to continue your training". That letter says "I, the undersignee, hereby agree to irrevocably authorise CTC to remain in possession of my bond and pass it directly to a partner airline.". Without access to your Basic Contract, you may well believe that you must sign it. If your Basic Contract is like my Basic Contract, then you don't need to sign anything and what the CTC representative is telling you is a material lie. The Basic Contract states that the "Training Bond" is passed back to the cadet who is then responsible for passing it to the Partner Airline [at the appropriate time]... alternatively, the cadet may authorise CTC to pass it directly to the Partner Airline. In no way is further training delivery contingent upon the cadet irrevocably signing away his/her right to ever handle their training bond again. If you do not understand the implications of what I am saying now, just go and check your contract and wait for day one of Bournemouth, and be sure not to sign that letter without a written position from CTC and advice from your legal counsel. It seems like a small thing, but actually, it's a really big thing to do with truth, power and manipulation, and you getting your hands on 85k of bond.

Leave your ego at the door. It sounds harsh, but just because you get into CTC you are not special. The best pilots, IMO, are the open ones with humility about themselves and the whole flying affair. Trainees who give the impression that they get it right every time and don't make mistakes are just not being honest. You'll see this when you backseat your mates. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone makes the same mistakes. Good pilots do the work, take advice and keep learning. The really good ones openly share their experiences, good and bad for the benefit of all, and support each other. The really, really good ones (who actually do get it right most of the time) are pretty rare. All Captains and FOs on the line make mistakes of varying sizes. That's the reason why there's two crew using CRM. Once you get on the line and you are relatively on your own, your attitude and professionalism towards your entire crew is just as important as your knowledge and skill as an individual pilot.

There is a hell of a lot more I could say about the program, but I would be writing forever, so I will try to sum up with some realism and positivity.

The longer I spent in the CTC program, the more and more I grew to feel little but contempt for CTC in respect to the way in which they view and treat cadets. It is important though to always understand the line between CTC management and business/managerial ethos, and your instructors. Most of the instructors I was trained by were good people. Every instructor in Bournemouth was really good and wanted me to succeed, supporting me when I found things difficult. The same with AQC and Type Rating. The whole situation changed with the GFC and Flexicrew. This was not what was described to us when we signed up, so my generation were really, really pissed off about CTC and EJ management moving the goalposts and making us pay more money (which was achievable through the careful compartmentalisation of contracts). Being a Flexicrew pilot was not to my liking, as I was still at the machination of a CTC contract and one of their employees administering aspects of my life. easyJet management are fully complicit in the treatment of Flexicrew pilots. It is an openly stated managerial goal to increase flexicrew and flexiterms within the company, resisted only by the various unions and national employment legislation. But, flexicrew was ultimately a stepping stone to full, permanent employment with an airline in basically the minimum time it can be done (and the greatest upfront and long term outlay!). CTC will train you to fly under a vertically integrated programme. This means, in practical terms, minimum hours and minimum required experience to do the end job. This is not necessarily a good thing, and the onus at all times is on the cadet to put in a lot of work. As a cadet, you are not entitled to anything other than the training you paid for. You are not entitled to a TR, a job, a permanent contract etc. Being a flexicrew pilot does not entitle you to a permanent job. You're a contractor until the day that, for one reason or another, you're not. Once you start at the airline, selection by other means continues. It is not like a regular job. If you turn up on airline day one thinking you've made it, you are very wrong. It's just the next stage of selection, except you're not really being trained in the previous sense anymore because you are now directly responsible for knowing your stuff and the lives of everyone on board. Line Training is really a sort of refinement process.

Forget as well the notion of Partner Airlines. The truth of the matter is this: CTC had a five year training contract with eJ for cadet pilots that expired in 2009. The renegotiation of the subsequent contract resulted in Flexicrew. ~95% of CTC cadets went to eJ as a result of these two inter-company agreements. The ones who went to other airlines were basically "sold", as it were, on a very small scale, almost piecemeal basis. That's not to say that CTC have not shown their cadets positive support. I am aware of individuals who for one reason or another came out of eJ, got some more CTC sim time and managed to go to another UK airline, but they are minority cases. The couple who went to Gulf Air got those jobs off their own back by applying directly when they had the hours (as I understand). The guys in Tiger got that off their own backs (to CTC's financial detriment, triggering contractual changes for later Flexi pilots to lock them down by bonding them for the TR). The current BA recruitment and the guys going there are doing that off their own back. Sure, they started with CTC and eJ, but the BA successes are not of CTC's making. Beware marketing rhetoric, it is always removed from reality.

Also, my advice based on the content of the training, the limit of the license, the price, and the opinions of every airline pilot I've flown with, is to avoid the MPL at all costs. It's nearly the same price as the full integrated programme, I believe. I wouldn't touch that with a barge pole. At least I got to do some real flying and burned some fuel for my 70k before I started trusting an FMGC everyday. I would feel cheated with an MPL. Plus the restrictions on the qualification are utterly ridiculous. You can only fly for that one operator until you get a full ATPL. You're bent over even more barrels than I was! If you're on the MPL, don't expect me to debate this with you. Knowing what I know now, I would rather not have trained than taken the risks you are taking on that course. If you are binned by the airline before you get your ATPL, your TR is not transferrable, as I understand it. That's very, very, very bad IMO. Not to mention the even lower level of net experience.

If you still think that you can enter the game and, if it all goes pear shaped, you can just go bankrupt and write it all off, think again. Aside from the fact that unsecured funding is hard to come by, UK bankruptcy laws have quietly changed. Recent bankruptees have been assessed in detail by the courts and ordered under IPOs to pay all their disposable income to their creditors. 18 months to 2 years ago, people were going bankrupt and not getting IPOs and therefore paying nothing. Trouble in Ireland and bankruptcy tourism has triggered a harder line nowadays, so it's not the dump valve it once was.

By contrast a mate of mine went to another FTO and once getting to CPL/ME/IR, that was it. CTC had more drive to sell their products further down the line (by getting the eJ training contracts) than his flightschool did, who were just happy to take his 65k and leave it there. No AQC, TR, job etc. He's now back doing what he did before (fortunately he earns a fortune) but he'd rather be flying, and if he could get the Flexicrew deal he would take it. Would I do this again? Probably. Overall, it's a pretty good job. There was a lot of crap, stress and big sacrifices, but life moves onwards and upwards. And I had a much, much easier ride than the self-improvers who did every flying and non-flying job for years before getting near a jet.

transcendental is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2011, 13:57
  #3843 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: UK
Posts: 21
An excellent summary of what to expect from CTC. Thank you for the time taken to write that, a real eye-opener!

I applied to CTC and passed selection a year ago and was stunned at the way they tried to sign me up straight away. The contracts were biased and they asked me to make a decision within 24 hours of whether or not to accept. Naturally I had many questions, and whilst most were answered well, some crucial ones were ignored such as my request to see a flexicrew contract.

Having said this, they are still above the other options as far as getting a job goes. How many OAA and FTE non-mentored grads have flying jobs? My bet is fewer than CTC.

Last edited by catfoodtastesbad; 20th Sep 2011 at 21:59.
catfoodtastesbad is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2011, 14:44
  #3844 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 1999
Posts: 2,285

An excellent, honest and well written piece. A valuble contribution of your time and personal experience, that should be read by anybody considering this route into the industry.

A good balance of praise and criticism where due, and where something is an opinion, you make that clear.

I very much believe that this is one of the better routes into a very difficult industry for aspiring "cadets," and have advocated this and similar routes for some time now. That is always balanced by the absolute requirement to do "your homework" and get proper, meaningful advice at all relevant stages.

Risk can only be mitigated, it simply cannot be eliminated, and the pursuit of that mitigation is often time consuming, added expense, and fairly mundane, when wrapped in the excitement and euphoria of a career prospect somewhere over the horizon.

Having read your post a few times, I can find almost nothing I would disagree with materially, and a great deal that I would agree with, much of which is absolutely pure common sense. That you have taken so much time to write something so useful and meaningful, should be appreciated by anybody with a serious interest in this subject.

Well done!
Bealzebub is offline  
Old 9th Oct 2011, 16:50
  #3845 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: London
Age: 41
Posts: 72
Anyone else here starting as a cadet in December 2011?
shorty79 is offline  
Old 10th Oct 2011, 14:17
  #3846 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: England
Age: 33
Posts: 73

I've just finished my groundschool with CTC and I'm due to fly off to NZ on the 9th November.

I completely agree with the above posts, but just to add a few little extras and my personal opinion:

Most of the guys on my course have accepted the fact that flexicrew is the most likely outcome at the end of the course. Looking at the statistics of flexicrew, most of the guys are earning well in excess of what you would be earning as a cadet entry pilot and even some direct entry salaries. The obvious downside is that you are not on a contract, thus no security and no guarantee of flying hours.

The other thing to think about is how the market is set to improve over the next year (touch wood that nothing brings it crashing back down again such as the EU economy...). CTC are bringing a lot more students into the wings course which has been evident of the three courses joining after I started. We've also been told that the hold pool is due to be empty by the end of year and the increasing likelihood of a very short wait, if any, after finishing the AQC. Also, if the demand for pilots keeps increasing, then with it will likely come added benefits including going straight onto contract with Easyjet, joining other airlines as cadet/direct entry, cheaper type ratings and higher wages.

Also, CTC may handover endless pages of contracts to sign, with clauses making you feel like your handing your life over to them, but remember that they are a business, and they will always protect themselves. Saying this, CTC are not in a position to receive bad publicity. As an example, one of the clauses in the contract states that you may be ejected from the hold pool after a period of 12 months if you have not been employed. Whilst this is in the contract, you'll find that CTC have never actually done this. Even during the economic crisis.

However, this is all to be taken with a pinch of salt, as things are said, rumours are spread, and as always, marketing departments remain at the top of the expenditure spreadsheet. What is evident though, as said previously, CTC still provides the best employment opportunities.

pipersam is offline  
Old 10th Oct 2011, 15:14
  #3847 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Nowhere for very long
Posts: 64

Does that seem so stupid now?

TheBeak in mid 2009:

If CTC did make those claims, well, jolly good. I look forward to it happening. As I have said, I use this thread as a measuring stick of the market amongst other things and that sounds like great news - I might have to start up a new thread entitled - 'CTC say there is a pilot shortage looming and that BA will need 400 pilots in a year and a half, Yessss.'
PrestonPilot is offline  
Old 11th Oct 2011, 21:19
  #3848 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 9
Hi folks

I'm attending CTC soon for aptitude tests and the numerical test.

I've had a look through the thread and have seen the type of questions that are in the numerical test.

Can anyone provide examples of questions that may be asked in the numerical test?
MFB is offline  
Old 11th Oct 2011, 21:45
  #3849 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: England
Age: 33
Posts: 73
You can expect to see some long multiplication and division in there for sure.

A typical example would be:

"U.S. Gallons to Litres Conversion Factor = 3.785.

An aircraft has a fuel burn of 200 U.S. Gallons per hour. What is the aircrafts hourly fuel burn in Litres?"

Expect some awkwardly worded questions trying to catch you out as well.
pipersam is offline  
Old 16th Oct 2011, 20:17
  #3850 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Huntingdonshire
Age: 26
Posts: 9
Sorry if this is a FAQ or generally stupid question but do you get a calculator for the numerical tests? or is it all mental maths?
Rastablasta is offline  
Old 16th Oct 2011, 23:17
  #3851 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: England
Age: 33
Posts: 8

No calculator I'm afraid, just pen, paper and brain
G-TD is offline  
Old 17th Oct 2011, 17:40
  #3852 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Earth
Age: 31
Posts: 87
Qatar Airways will, apparently, be taking a number of CTC cadets over the coming months. Initially this will be around 20 but I'd imagine it will increase afterwards.
StevieW is offline  
Old 22nd Oct 2011, 05:06
  #3853 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Perth
Posts: 37

Stevie W

Where did you hear about CTC and Qatar tie up?
ozziecrew is offline  
Old 22nd Oct 2011, 11:22
  #3854 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: England
Age: 33
Posts: 8
I think there was something about CTC and Qatar in their latest internal newsletter. Apparently Qatar require quite a few pilots over the next few years and there will be a requirement for 20 so cadets towards the end of 2012. I don't know whether this will be FO's for their short haul fleet, or SO's for their long haul fleet.
G-TD is offline  
Old 22nd Oct 2011, 13:40
  #3855 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Perth
Posts: 37
cheers for that!
ozziecrew is offline  
Old 23rd Oct 2011, 10:54
  #3856 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Huntingdonshire
Age: 26
Posts: 9
For the CTC wings cadet course, on application through the online facility, are A level predicted grades accepted or will I have to finish my application upon receiving my grades?
Rastablasta is offline  
Old 23rd Oct 2011, 11:24
  #3857 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: England
Age: 33
Posts: 8
This is something that I think you will need to ask the selection team directly. However I would imagine that it would be best to wait until you have official examination results.
G-TD is offline  
Old 23rd Oct 2011, 15:41
  #3858 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: United Kingdom (EGKK)
Posts: 109
Is anyone else starting as a Cadet in February 2012?
patm92 is offline  
Old 23rd Oct 2011, 17:46
  #3859 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: England
Posts: 0

Outstanding post. Thank you very much.

Wee Weasley Welshman is offline  
Old 23rd Oct 2011, 19:23
  #3860 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Huntingdonshire
Age: 26
Posts: 9
Just going through the online application for CTC, on the part where you enter schools and grades, do you need to list a subject twice if you got 2 GCSE's in it?

Also, if I complete both GCSE and A level at the same school, do I list them seperately with one as a secondary school and one as a college?
Rastablasta is offline  

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