Middle East Many expats still flying in Knoteetingham. Regional issues can be discussed here.


Old 10th Apr 2021, 18:59
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Question OxfordSaudia

Whats the deal with this outfit?

They keep advertising a bunch of positions for flight instructor (among other positions) for the last few months. I've applied in December and even got an email back from Larry W. ( CEO - maybe automated email). I've tried to follow up but i've never gotten anywhere. But i still get emails advertising positions and their website still has all positions listed aswell. So i'm curious - are they really looking to hire? I've got 2 years CFI experience and wouldn't mind putting at least 2 years in for the salary they are seemingly offering.

Thanks for any insight
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Old 12th Apr 2021, 11:49
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These local pilots trained abroad, how where they not up to standard? China, Singapore etc have been doing it for a very long time.
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Old 4th Jun 2021, 22:28
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Are you an Arab? Or perhaps not White? I certainly don't ask out of racism or xenophobia but company policy is to pretty much only hire White men and never hire Arabs. I know of a perfectly qualified candidate who was immediately rejected because his name was Omar (an Arab name). This dude wasn't even an Arab, he had Spanish ancestry.

My reply to another thread copied again for you to read:

I am on my virtual knees begging you not to work for this company. These guys have no idea what they are doing on a professional, aviation, or legal scale.

Anyway, more about the school. The program is a scam of epic proportions. The students pay over $100,000 USD for a course that is supposed to give them ASEL and AMEL commercials along with an A-320 type rating. The school found out early on that the English comprehension and math skills that students get coming out of local high schools were unsatisfactory so the students go through a 1.5-2 year foundational program where they learn how to speak aviation English and perform basic calculations.

The CFIs don't see students until after this phase. Once they get out, they go through ground school classes of 15-30 students in the same cohort. They then reach the flight line. However, here is where the real problems start. First, the school does not have authorization from the Saudi government to fly to a third airport. Currently they are only permitted to fly to OEAH (72 nm away). Flight training activities such as traffic patterns and ground reference maneuvers are not permitted at Dammam (OEDF) so all pattern work has to be preceded and followed by an hour-long xc.

Maneuvers have to be practiced in a practice area in the middle of the desert, also a good 30+nm away. To complicate things further, the dust and sand in the air is so bad in the desert that there is no real way to identify a horizon. Visibility will very regularly make for IMC even though there isn't a cloud in sight. Don't be fooled by the stories of all these brand new DA40s either. GACA, the country's regulator (FAA), has not been to the school since December in order to certificate any new planes.

There are several brand new DA40s on the cargo ramp in OEDF that are untouchable because they are still Austrian-registered, not Saudi. Op Specs are so brutal that these planes cannot operate with a single thing inop. Flights cancel over things as trivial as missing fuel testers and worn out velcro. There are probably about 3-4 airworthy aircraft at any given time. Don't believe me? Check flightaware for OEDF movements, the school's planes all start with HZ-XF and then a number or two.

The school built a nice hangar behind the building but the airport authority won't let them build a patch of pavement to connect it to the taxiway complex so all aircraft are on the cargo ramp. It's a 30 minute shuttle ride from the school to the airport and then you have to go through their equivalent of TSA and take another shuttle to your plane. Because of all this, instructors will get 15-30 hours a month. Tie in the occasional unexplained airspace closure due to Yemeni rockets, and you'll come to the horrifying realization that no student at OxfordSaudia has ever been signed off for a Private Pilot checkride. In fact, due to the inability to get authorization to fly to a third airport, no student has even completed their long solo xc. There are students who have been with the school for about three years now, and they are pissed off.

That's enough about the students, more about you as an instructor. It doesn't say so in the job posting, but you do not get paid your salary until you pass the conversion checkride. Until you pass, you are on a training wage of $2,100/month.

They told us three months for the conversion process. This is wildly inaccurate. First, you will need to go to Jeddah to take the written exams, from Private through CFII. These will not be challenging since they are the same as the current Gleim FAA exams. Even though Saudi Arabia has different aviation laws (think 75% FAA and 25% ICAO), GACA has not bothered to make their own set of written exams. In the interest of professionalism, I will attempt to refrain from giving my personal opinion on GACA, but I think it should be pretty obvious.

As a side note, these are the same exams the students must take before unlearning all of this information to relearn the Saudi regs. Once you pass the written exams, you prepare for the conversion checkride. The conversion checkride is administered by a DPE who flies for Saudia Airlines (not to be confused with OxfordSaudia, which has no relation other than having pilfered the name). He did his training in Tennessee at MTSU. His pass rate is somewhere around 20%, regardless of whether or not he already busted you. His oral exam is usually a full 8 hours and his practical is about 5.5.

Naturally, some of his busts have been totally fair (a guy flew an ILS approach on pink needles. That's a bust in anybody's book), but a lot of his busts have been very arbitrary. When you do fail a checkride, the company will bill you for the DPE fee, which will be somewhere around $900 USD. It will be deducted from your training pay. Right now, there are guys just starting to get their shots on the checkride after arriving about 4-4.5 months ago. But with the new hiring wave, it may well be a year before you test. There were guys on one year contracts last year who never got a chance to test at all and went back home with nothing more than training pay.

The worst part of everything at this company is their abhorrent disregard for labor law even in one of the most laborer-oppressive countries in the world. You will be expected to be present at the academy 9 hours per day, regardless of whether or not you have anything scheduled for the day. The airport is 15-20 miles into the desert and a whole hour away from the compound (which, to the company's credit, is rather nice) so forget about killing time off-premises outside of lunch.

When you get your housing at the compound, unless your family is with you (three months after your first day, per company policy), you will be put in a two-bedroom apartment with another CFI. For me it isn't the end of the world but it is yet another failure by the company to live up to its word. Regularly expect to be given working hours and short rest periods that are illegal per Saudi Labor Law. The company will regularly lie to you about pay in order to get you to comply. Remember (or learn now for the first time) that in Saudi Arabia, you not only need a visa to enter the country; you also need a visa to leave the country. If you don't have an exit visa, you will not be allowed past security at the airport. The exit visa is issued by your employer.

There was a run of six FAA guys who realized that this company was a lie and they all encountered problems with the company. When you try to resign, the company will take the remainder of the contract and bill you training pay for the rest of the contract (if you quit two months in, you owe them $45,000+), even though Saudi Labor Law gives employees the right to quit during probation for free. They will tell you that you cannot receive an exit visa until you pay up. This is also wildly illegal. The first guy had legal representation and got his exit visa and was gone a couple days later, though GACA also denied his medical (even though he held a first class FAA one), so perhaps he was of less value to them. The next three quit as a group and the company refused to give them visas and HR freely admitted that what they were doing was illegal. Somebody sent an email to CAE's HQ and they got super pissed and it ended up with them paying like $2k each to offset for training expenses. Then the last two tried to sue the company for violations of the law and the company is still drawing it out and standing firm on collecting the $45k from each of them.

Usually, I would try to give a balanced synopsis to anybody who wants more info and allow them to reach their own conclusions. But this is not a usual case. This company is absolutely terrible and they will either ruin you financially or drive you insane throughout your contract period. Please do not come here.
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Old 15th Jun 2021, 14:57
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8 hour oral 😀
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Old 23rd Jun 2021, 03:27
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Thanks Saudisurvivor for the detailed review. That's what I love about PPRuNe , at least it gives people a chance to check out a place to see if all's as advertised
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Old 27th Jun 2021, 19:03
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Larry W aka Larry Wail is/was chief pilot of 777 saudia fleet, I wonder how he got connected to Oxfordsaudia.

Having worked in this part of the world, I'm sure Saudisurvivor is spot on.
I myself was wondering what's wrong with this academy posting FI vacancies back to back for over 2 years now.
Stay away guys, you don't want to work of these people or even in this country.

Last edited by Flyboy_SG; 12th Nov 2021 at 06:59.
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Old 4th Jul 2021, 16:48
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Having lived in the country for quite some time and I did visit the school at the KFIA, but never knew about all of this. I am so sorry about your experience.
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Old 12th Nov 2021, 05:22
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Good info

Thank you for sharing about Saudi Oxford.
it looks like a chinese flight school in 2006/2008.
Same problems, attitudes....
same results : failure to train
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Old 16th Nov 2021, 19:55
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History repeating itself then-

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