Sunday, May 9, 2021
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Cadet Pilot Programme: You Have Control!

Last week, Francine write about forwarding your education academically with the IB. However, this week we’re going to take on a different perspective through ‘Mr OW'(his nickname), who is currently training under the AirAsia Cadet Pilot Programme to become a pilot.

Aicraft: “APAC ONE-SIX SIERRA, TURNING FINAL”
ATC: “APAC ONE-SIX SIERRA, SURFACE WINDS ONE-ONE-ZERO AT TWO KNOTS, CLEARED TO LAND”
Aircraft: “CLEARED TO LAND, APAC ONE-SIX SIERRA”

About a minute later, I safely landed the Diamond DA-40 aircraft I was piloting on the active runway, marking the completion of my first solo flight. This was upon being cleared by my flight instructor with whom I flew a solo check flight to demonstrate my proficiency in single-pilot operations before I was cleared to fly solo and log as a flight Captain for the very first time in my piloting career. Till today, that euphoric feeling has never gone past me, as a Captain, for the very first time.

Being an aspiring pilot since my childhood days, it did not take me much effort nor time after my SPM to decide on which career I should pursue. Unlike many other jobs where academic degrees are your tickets in to the workforce, a career in professional piloting requires one to first obtain a Commercial Pilot’s License (CPL) through an Approved Flight Training Organisation (AFTO), prior to filling up your job application form. One would be signing up for a self-funded, ab-initio flight training which takes about a year, where a total of 200 hours will be logged during the said period.

Myself in a Diamond DA-40- the aircraft used for MPL flight training

 As for myself, I’ve had my mindset on securing a cadetship since day one and have never looked back. Many major airlines today offer cadet pilot programmes, where a chance to join the airline as a pilot without having any previous flying experience, is made available. It is too an effective approach to ensure a constant supply of pilots to meet the airline’s forecasted market demand, hence filling up positions two years away. Differing from direct entry pilot jobs, these airlines handpick the cream of the crop and train a selected handful of people to become pilots for them. Yes, that would mean that you are GUARANTEED of a job with the airline upon completion of your flight training. I chose to be part of the Allstar family.

I was given the golden opportunity to realise my lifelong piloting dream by AirAsia, upon passing their cadet pilot assessment. One may apply for the position of a Malaysia-based cadet through the AirAsia website. The pilot recruitment team designed the assessment in such a way that they would be able to screen candidates through the few stages of a strict and challenging selection process. The preliminary round is no more than a written academic test, which covers SPM-level English, Mathematics and Physics, followed by an IQ test. Candidates are required to achieve a grade of 80% on each paper before proceeding to the next stage.

Having passed the written exam stage, candidates would then advance to the ADAPT assessment.

Simulation-based training allows for the recreation of abnormal situations that may occur in actual flight, as pilots have to be prepared to face unprecedented scenarios at any given time.

ADAPT is essentially a pilot aptitude test comprising of an interview, an English proficiency test, and a physical task- better known as the psychomotor test. Such aptitude tests have been proven effective in identifying current and future skills and ability. A notable mention would be how Formula 1 teams have also benefited from Symbiotic Ltd’s tests to identify potential F1 drivers! My interview was done with a panel of 2 persons from CAE (as AirAsia partners with CAE for the delivery of Multi-crew Pilot License training).

The psychomotor test is principally a flight simulator scenario where one is expected to demonstrate multi-tasking abilities and hand-eye coordination by means of flying the airplane by joystick and throttle control input, over a set of navigation waypoints and solve mathematical questions, answer to general knowledge, aviation-related questions and attempt a stroop test simultaneously as you fly the airplane. The general idea here is about testing one’s ability to work under pressure. A pretty daunting task but practice helps improves this fundamental piloting skill. Your performance during the entire ADAPT stage will be analysed and if in the case that it meets the standards required of you, an invitation will be sent to you via e-mail to attend the final stage.

The final interview is where the number of candidates left is down to 20 or so. Pretty much the elites out of the initial pool. This is where AirAsia themselves will be conducting the interview, with a panel comprising of a two or more Captains. A formal interview environment, where your personality traits, emotion control, confidence level and also the way one presents himself will be assessed upon. Having passed the entire selection process and selected as a cadet pilot, the successful candidate will then be offered the cadet pilot training along with a letter of intent employment for the co-pilot position. And there you go!

Starting up the engine prior to a flight, after completing a total of 52 checklist items

Many have asked me as to how tough the entire selection process was. Honestly speaking, I’m of the opinion that no task is ever too difficult if one comes thoroughly prepared. Back then I was well aware that this could be the gateway to my dream career. Achievement-motivated and backed by a burning passion, I made it a point that I would go all-out and realise that dream of mine. And I did. In the words of Eddie Rickenbacker- “Aviation is proof that given, the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible.

When one is given such an opportunity to fulfil his dreams, I see no reason why he should not give his whole heart into it, for that is the purpose of life- to succeed. Success may be multifaceted by definition but as one establishes this concept, he is well on track towards the direction of becoming an accomplished individual. In the words of Eddie Rickenbacker- “Aviation is proof that gives, the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible.”

Reach for the skies.
Thank you for that wonderful post, Mr Ow

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