Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cadet Pilot - My career can't take off

My career can’t take off

$140,000 spent on pilot’s licence but I can’t land a job with local carriers

Letter from James Tan

I AM a cadet pilot who has graduated from the flying college which trains all of Singapore Airline’s pilots, be it for the main fleet, cargo division, or SilkAir. I belong to a group of about 20 Singaporeans who were willing to pay for the training course at the Singapore Flying College (a subsidiary of SIA).

This training course cost me about $140,000 to complete.

Even though no promise of a job was made, I was still willing to go through the course hoping for at least an interview for consideration for an SIA job.

But the carrier seems to prefer to take in foreign nationals (including some from Malaysia, India and Hong Kong) over the current crop of local Singaporeans, who have coughed up a large amount of cash and have graduated with a Commercial Pilot Licence – only to be bypassed by this group of foreign nationals SIA has hired with zero hours of flying experience, and provided with training from scratch.

We Singaporeans are being overlooked by SIA without so much as an interview. Most of us have to look to the low-cost carriers like Jetstar and Tiger for jobs, as these are the only airlines based out of Singapore that can take in pilots like us with few hours of flying time.

However, Jetstar has a policy of taking in retired air force pilots, which means Tiger remains our only hope of employment.

Setting our sights on jobs with overseas airlines is proving to be a major hurdle. I have sent in more than 200 applications to airlines all over the world but I’m usually rejected because I am a low-hour pilot or because the aviation authority in that country has a job protection clause in place for their pilots from their own nations. For example, Malaysian and Indonesian carriers only allow low-hours pilots provided they are citizens of those countries.

This means the majority of the Singaporean pilots who have paid for their own training are hung out to dry, since we have to vie for limited places with the foreigners for cadet pilot positions, and we are not very attractive to airlines outside Singapore due to our low hours or the jobs policies put in place by other countries’ aviation authorities.

So, why does our national carrier prefer to take in foreign cadet pilots with zero hours of flying time over their own local pilots, who have paid their dues in the local pilot training school?

Aspiring pilots in Singapore who want to pay their own way through their training should think twice. Career opportunities are very limited and the cost of training is extremely high. Could SIA comment on why local pilots who were trained at their subsidiary training school aren’t given so much as a job interview? 

Article taken from 

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