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Cathay Pacific to require cadet pilots to gain work experience at Hong Kong's Airport

Aviation Updates Philippines – Cathay Pacific will require its newly qualified cadet pilots to gain two months of working experience on the ground at Hong Kong International Airport. 

 Image: Cathay Pacific A350 Over Hong Kong (Credit: Cathay Pacific)

The requirement was reported on outlets such as The South China Morning Post, and a copy of a notice by Cathay Pacific from the airline's Head of Flying Training Jules Tidmarsh stating the new trial program was posted on Twitter by Hong Kong-based journalist Aaron Busch.

“As part of our continuous efforts to improve our induction offering for Second Officers, and considering the timeline to commencement of your flying training, we seek to broaden and thus add value to your induction experience; therefore, we will shortly begin to trial a new induction program,” the notice by the Hong Kong-based airline said.

Required to graduate, Second Officers under the program will complete one rotation of two months commencing in June 2023. Following three days of classroom training and a two day on-job training at boarding gates and Hong Kong Airport's arrival concourse, the cadet pilots will be assigned various customer-facing touch-points at airports such as assisting passengers upon arrival or boarding procedures at the gate.

“The primary goal of this initiative is to provide you with greater understanding of our customer service ethos and our airport operations. The experience will help you develop strong customer service skills and provide you with knowledge of a range of airport functions,” the airline's letter added.

Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association Response

As Cathay Pacific launches the customer service training for cadet pilots, the Chairman of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association Paul Weatherilt voiced his disagreement with the new requirement.

“This training is not required to be a pilot. The Civil Aviation Department, which issues our licenses, is only interested in pilot competency. Pilots are not generalists that need to be exposed to the whole operation like a management trainee”, Weatherilt told the South China Morning Post.

Suspended amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Cathay Pacific relaunched its Cadet Pilot Program in March 2022. The 55-60 week training course starts with lectures at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Successful candidates then continue on to flight training before undergoing multi-crew simulator training. 

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