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Wannabe pilot from Hong Kong. Need your wisdom regarding career path

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Wannabe pilot from Hong Kong. Need your wisdom regarding career path

Old 19th Jan 2021, 14:57
  #1 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: Smelly Harbour
Posts: 11
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should I choose this route, as the CX CPP megathread is filled with "cAn I jOiN a StUdY gRoUp PlZ" and (presumably) outdated information from 2017 or earlier.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
Sleepsleep is offline  
Old 3rd Feb 2021, 20:41
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Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 1
(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)

Gooday, I can't really answer most of the question but I can share some of my personal experience for you. I've trained in NZ and training here is awesome but very depends on which organization you go thru.

During my time to start is hard as aviation is blooming during 2017, good flying school is picky and they rejected lots of students, as im not the smartest student to fly, I've nearly been kick out from the school.

And getting a GA job after graduate in here is always hard and i thinks its the same as over OZ especially post COVID19.
15 of us local students maybe 3 got a aviation job, others of us = supermarket.

I met alots of Hkers came over our flying club and grab a PPL license and go back to apply cadet back in Hk. Maybe you can do that just to experience the taste of flying to see if it suits you.

All the best!
sddsddppl is offline  
Old 3rd Feb 2021, 23:29
  #3 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: UAE
Posts: 21
I dont know about NZ and Aus, but for you to be a Flight Instructor or getting any flying job in US I'm pretty sure you must have a green card first. You are already in the right option, in today world I think securing a job after flight training is the most important and convinience things to do. Because it will make you easier to do flight training without thinking about getting a job after getting your license. Doesn't matter if its only sitting in jumpseat as long as it pays you for your flight training. And also for SO program in Singapore, they dont state it in their website but its usually SG and MY citizen only who get called for interview.
chobo97 is offline  
Old 4th Feb 2021, 00:30
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: FL, USA
Posts: 2,592
As an initial thought Id stay away from Airline cadet programs as its possible for these airlines to not survive for the duration of your training course.
May I suggest you look at studying in the USA for a 4-year degree at a University that has a strong aviation faculty.
After your ratings you will be able to instruct for the remainder of your student visa.
Just one example:

https://und.edu/programs/professiona...nor/index.html
B2N2 is offline  
Old 4th Feb 2021, 06:58
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Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: Smelly Harbour
Posts: 11
Originally Posted by chobo97 View Post
I dont know about NZ and Aus, but for you to be a Flight Instructor or getting any flying job in US I'm pretty sure you must have a green card first. You are already in the right option, in today world I think securing a job after flight training is the most important and convinience things to do. Because it will make you easier to do flight training without thinking about getting a job after getting your license. Doesn't matter if its only sitting in jumpseat as long as it pays you for your flight training. And also for SO program in Singapore, they dont state it in their website but its usually SG and MY citizen only who get called for interview.
The bottom 2 lines. That's the disadvantages of being a Hongkonger (I guess) when your hometown airline is a s##tty place to work at...
Not to mention the NSL and the tightening grip in general which makes the QOL of Hong Kong deteriorate at an unprecedented rate. Hongkongers, regardless of status, are emigrating, or planning to emigrate, left and right.
Looks like the hour building process for me would be much longer and much more painful...

sddsddppl, good idea and CX's cadet program may be the only choice that works out for me. Having a PPL can show to the interviewers that you care about flying. Thank you so much for the idea
My first priority ATM is to save my school grades

Last edited by Sleepsleep; 4th Feb 2021 at 07:01. Reason: added my response to 1 more person's reply
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