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Home > Becoming a Pilot > Is it that bad – the Cathay Cadet Pilot Program?
Is it that bad – the Cathay Cadet Pilot Program?
Pilot Career - Becoming a Pilot
Sunday, 19 June 2011 18:07

Cathay Boeing 777 takes off

Hi Captain Lim,

I looked into PPrune sometimes and I keep reading bad things about Cathay’s Cadet Pilot Program. Things like:
  • You have a bond with them for 5 years (how is that bad? sounds good to me).
  • They treat you poorly and you won’t be sitting on the left seat for a long time.
  • Salary is disgusting etc...
Can you explain to me what all this is about and how is it bad that people are bonded for 5 years.

Also, is the progress you make in the company at the same pace as a pilot that got recruited outside and was not part of their Cadet Program?

Thank you.


Hi Simon,

I am not sure if you are a local resident or a foreign pilot wannabe aiming for the Cathay Cadet Pilot Program.

What you read at PPrune (Professional Pilots Rumor Network) Forum reflects mainly the views of foreign pilot wannabes or current expatriates (Australians, NZ, English, Canadian, etc). Naturally salary would be an issue to them.

If you are a local resident, then it is not as bad as the housing issue would probably have been solved and the lower salary may be more palatable.

Firstly, you must understand and appreciate that the airline industry, especially the legacy airlines, are not doing well economically and to cut cost, various measures are put in place. One of them is to fly long haul flights by making use of cruise relief pilots (CRP).

In the USA, FAA regulations require an additional pilot to be carried on every flight over 8 hours in duration. Some airlines rotate their First Officers to fulfill this position; other have a separate Second Officer position or the CRP to fulfill this role.

The main role of the CRP is to relieve the Captain and First Officer during the cruise portion of the flight. The CRP will sit on the Captain's seat and the First Officers seat as they take their breaks respectively. In a longer flight of, say 12 hours or more, two sets of crew must be carried. So instead of 2 Captains and 2 First Officers, there would be one Captain, two First Officers and one CRP (Second Officer in some airlines). Hence there is saving of cost.

If you are selected as a Cathay Cadet Pilot, you have to be very good. Your training would be paid by the airline and obviously, you would have to sign a bond. So a 5 years bond, as you said is good because you are assured of a job in an airline.

The CRP may play a lesser role but many who have performed it have found it to be a challenging and rewarding position. Depending on the airlines expansion program, your progression to First Officer and Captain varies from time to time. If you have the passion to fly, then the CRP or Second Officer job with Cathay is well worth it.

Whether the progress you make in the company is at the same pace as a pilot that got recruited outside and was not part of their cadet program, is difficult for me to say. In the airlines business, promotion sometimes is based on the right timing. During bad times when the window of opportunity closes, the airlines may even stop recruiting pilots.

Thank your lucky stars if you are selected!

I wish you all the bestalt.

PS. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my new Twitter at @CaptKHLim

Cathay Pacific Commercial


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Comments (4)

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Dear Sir ,
I am absolutely okay with the 5yr bond in this airline .All I want to know is how many hours will I accumulate in 5yrs in your company .
Thank You
wannabe indian pilot , 11 Sep, 2011
flight hours
it depends on regulations in HK but i think you will get less than
1000/year => 5000/5years in your logbook
also it might depend on other criteria
Response , 22 Jan, 2013
The 5 year bond is NOT good. They can still let you go or make you redundant. It is a one way street for The company. if you choose to leave before the end of the bond period ( I think it is actually 6 years), you will have to repay the company the cost of the training which I believe is around $1.2 million HKD.

Regarding logging flight time, you can only log time spent in the control seat, not the entire flight time. As an SO, expect to log around 350-400 hours per year.
Explainer , 04 Feb, 2013
Dream Job
If it is even 10 years bond I will do, becoming a pilot by sponsorship is one in billion opportunity in my perception. I just want to become a pilot in CP, if anybody can help me, then pls..
SS , 09 Apr, 2013

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