Dear Captain Lim,
I*m 21 years old and dropping out of college to pursue a pilot career. I do not want to enroll in a local airline training college, MAS or the Malaysian Flying Academy.
I*ve been searching on the web for a pilot school in New Zealand or Australia and there seems to be many of them. I don*t know which one to choose from. I was hoping that you could give me some answers to my questions:
1. If I go for the free training like those provided by MAS/SIA and would have to sign a 5-year bond, would it be a good or bad thing?
2. Could I know of some prestigious flying schools outside of Southeast Asia? My budget is about $USD 50K. I read in your website that it would make me more marketable. I would like that for I wouldn*t want to be working for MAS/SIA. I would like to go for the better-paying airlines.
3. Is it better if I get a degree? If it*s yes, should I get it before or after getting a pilot license?
Thank you very much.
1. The training is not exactly free - you may have to pay back a certain portion of the *loan* when you are *on line* meaning, when you are trained and fully operational. A bond can be a good thing or a disadvantage. Personally, I think it is good because you are assured of a job with a good airline - bad in that you have to pay a penalty in case you quit for a better airline that can offer you twice as much. Ah, don*t *salivate* yet :-) - you are generally marketable only when you become a Captain or a First Officer with some experience!
2. Training in a prestigious school does not mean you would be taken in by the best-paying airlines. In the Asian region, I think Cathay Pacific Airways can be considered as one of the best-paying airlines. If you go through my Forum on this airline, you will note that their selection process for the cadet pilot or experienced pilot positions is very tough. Remember, good-paying airlines like Cathay Pacific only take in Hong Kong citizens or PR for its cadet pilot program.
There are many flying schools around and those selected by any major airlines for their cadet pilot training are generally good. Off hand, I can say that Flight Training Adelaide (FTA) in Adelaide, Australia is a good training college as it is training cadet pilots for airlines such Qantas, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Dragonair, Emirates and Air China.
3. If time were not a factor, a degree would be an advantage. The basic requirements of some airlines do not require you to have a degree, but having one would give you the edge if all the final 5 candidates have more or less the same qualification as you have. On the other hand, if you have the natural-pilot talent, I have advised many others before you, to give it a go now and see if you can make it. If not, then you can continue to pursue your degree course and try again later.
However, if you want to pay for your own flying training, get your ATPL/ME/IR first and then apply for the airlines later, I would advise you to pursue your degree first as you may get *rusty* to exercise your flying licenses after a 3-to-4 years gap in the University.
Good luck to your future flying career!