Deciphering Pilot Cadet Programs

Each airline cadet program differs so you will need to do your research. To take some of the confusion out, here is a brief run down and a few inside tips.

Ab Initio Programs

This means you have totally fresh, you don’t have to have any flying experience at all, although you could have a recreational or private licence but nothing else.

  • This assessment will cover your potential in a variety of areas:
  • your potential to be trained
  •  your hands on flying potential or aptitude
  • your communication and team skills
  • your understanding of the role of the Second or First Officer

Advanced Cadet Programs

Advanced Cadet Programs can also be called Transition Training or Traineeship Level 2 Programs.

This means you can have your CPL and limited flying hours, say under 800-1000 as a guide, and you can still enter under an advanced cadet program.

It does not matter if you have worked as an instructor or as a charter pilot as long as you have not amassed a huge about of hours.

The cadetship is usually shorter than the Ab Initio program.

Cadet programs the airline funds

Just because it is called a cadet program, do not assume that all airlines pay for all your training.

Do you research so that you know what each cadet program actually covers.

Airlines who fund your training will be require that you train on site at their training facility or contracted flying school and this can mean relocation.

Most funded cadet programs require a bond period so you would have to commit to them anywhere from 3 – 7 years.

Beware, if you leave the program you will likely have to refund the training costs.

Cadet programs the airline does not fund – you pay up front

Some airlines offer cadet programs that must be fully funded by the cadet. Often the airline only provide a limited flying role at the completion of the cadetship, so ensure you know what the airline is offering post training.

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You may only be offered 12 months of flying before being asked to find another role, that’s pretty common.

What If I don’t meet the educational minimum requirements to join the cadet program?

Ok, this happens often, because different countries and states have different educational requirements.

Many require that you have finish High School and have advanced Maths and Physics passes. If you don’t have these, often the airline will accept a bridging course at a TAFE or similar.

What if you don’t have the exact educational requirements. It is always a good idea to ask the airline if the additional study you have obtained will be accepted in lieu of those final exams. Recently I have had cadet candidates with Trade Certificates and non-related Degrees and courses have their applications accepted.

The key here is don’t be too literal when looking at those requirements, and always ask.

Motivation and Commitment

Many of you will not have any flying experience, but the airline still needs to see your motivation, commitment and understanding of this career.

You might be thinking, how do I show this? Well, you have two opportunities, either in your Resume “Career Objectives’ section or in your cover letter.

This is not pie in the sky stuff, like “having my office at 30,000ft” or “I’ve always been fascinated with flying and travel” stuff. It is your chance to show that you really know what you like about the pilot role.

Consider including the following:

  • The on-going training standards and professional challenges
  • The technology of the aircraft and aerodynamics
  • The detail and process required in flight planning
  • The Multi Crew team environment
  • A role that includes ongoing educational challenges alongside hands on flying and aptitude
  • The high sense of responsibility for the safety of the flight, the customers and the aircraft

Don’t confuse motivation with passion.

Motivation is always about doing the job.

In conclusion, Cadet Programs are a great way to get to get started in this career path, one where finance is often a key hurdle. Starting with your application, you must be prepared well in advance as it is a rigorous recruitment process.

Get in touch if you have any questions at all.

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