Real Answers from Real Pilots

Second officer

I come back with another question I came across today. :sweat_smile:
I was reading the Cathay pacific page, and since I have a permanent hk id card, I am eligible to apply for their cadet program, and they will pay for the whole training in Australia. However, I am not sure what is second officer. I understand SO is third in comment, but other than that I dont know anything, like are they actually consider as a co-pilot or are they student? it said it would take around 5-7 years to upgrade to a junior first officer. It is a fairly long time, so just want to know if this is something worth considering and applying if the tuition for flight school is not a important factor.

Thanks in advance
-Jacob

1 Like

Jacob,

If you continue to read the Cathay Pacific website they give a thorough description as to what a second officer is.

They are not “like” considered co-pilots, they are. You’re basically a relief pilot while the flight is at cruise so the Capt or FO can get some rest. No takeoffs or landings. Whether it’s worth it or not depends on your ultimate goal? If you eventually want to fly for and spend your career at Cathay then the answer is an absolute yes. While 5-7 years may sound like a long time to you, it really isn’t at all. Keep in mind if you did your training in the US it would take 2 yrs to get to a Regional, 5-6 years to upgrade THEN apply to Cathay and if you get the call you’d still be starting out as a Second Officer. Like I said, if your goal is Cathay it’s really not a question.

Adam

I am reading their chinese website, seem like they didnt include the last part in. Thank you for searching into it Adam. I am not sure about my ultimate goal yet, thats why I am concern about being a second office. I dont know if being a second office will be competitive to others if in the future I decided to come back to work in the US, or in anywhere else?
Thanks for the response again.

Jacob,

Either way could work but again if you settle on Cathay, the Cadet program is the way to go.

Adam

Aw okay, thanks for the answer, much appreciated:blush:

Jacob,

I have to agree with Adam here, if you would like to fly for Cathay then there is no doubt that the cadet program would be fantastic for you. Even if you want to fly for another major airline someday I think it would be a really good place to start.

Chris

Thomas,

There’s a lot of questions and also some misconceptions in your above. I’m going to try and navigate through it as best as I can. First off you cannot lump Cathay Pacific in with the rest of the other Asian or Middle Eastern carriers. CP has been around since 1946 (longer than many US carriers) and is widely considered one of the finest airlines in the World. Unlike many of the rapidly expanding foreign carriers who are experiencing pilot shortages, CP receives a constant flow of applications from pilots around the world. The biggest issue they have is finding pilots who meet their qualifications and can pass their pre-interview exams and interview process. While I’ve never applied myself I have friends who have and others who have worked there and apparently it’s a bear. The written exam includes an extensive review of aeronautical science and even includes celestial navigation. Pilot’s will study for months preparing. Now CP will hire pilots directly as FO’s but the mins are high and again they’re very selective (seniority is not a factor since there’s no union AND they respect the fact that someone with more experience can come in at a higher rank). For anyone else it’s Second Officer. CP respects experience and believes pilots must earn their positions. CP takes what they do VERY seriously which is reflected in their status as the #1 Safest Airline on the planet. While you may think being an SO is “boring and unfulfilling” CP considers it an apprenticeship (I also need to say if you believe being a cruise pilot who doesn’t T/O or land is “boring and unfulfilling” it does beg the question if you’ve really thought this career through since T/O and Landing encompasses about 10min of flight time out of the many HOURS at cruise. I’m wondering if you may feel the vast majority of your job is boring and unfulfilling?). Anyway, enough about CP.

As for the rest of the foreign carriers (and there are many) yes they are hiring like crazy and paying BIG money. I’ve known many pilots who’ve gone to both the Middle East and Asia. When you ask how they like it, the usual answer is “the money’s really good”. In the Middle East most airlines have “compounds” where their pilots live with their families (to keep them out of trouble) and in Asia there are many Ex-pat communities so learning the language and assimilating is less of an issue. Probably the biggest complaint is there is no union or union protection. Whether you like the seniority system or not no one can argue it’s fair. While you may believe it prevents better pilots from excelling the fact is it also prevents favoritism. I’ve heard many stories of foreign carriers upgrading their own nationals or simply those they “like” better than others. Don’t like it? You can go. At many foreign carriers you’ll upgrade if and when they decide. Have a bad sim session? You’re gone. Make an error while flying or bust an FAR, you’re gone. Gain too much weight, you’re gone. Duty and rest rules? Sure they have them but if they over fly you what are you going to do? Complain to the authorities? Well in the Middle East the airlines are owned by the Royal Family who also are the government sooooo, yup, you’re gone. In Asia you can file a complaint but by the time it gets addressed, guess what…

Honestly if I were a young man without a family I think it could be a great adventure for a few years. You can make a ton of money and gain some valuable experience but you need to know what you’re getting into. For many US pilots it’s a very humbling experience in that many US pilots think their owed or deserve something. You will get paid but you will earn it and if you don’t or give them some attitude…well, I’ll give you one more guess? :slight_smile:

Adam

Thomas,

Cathay has a strong British and Australian expat work force because of Britian’s history with controlling Hong Kong until recently.

There are no American carriers that use second officers, which is a very good thing as it means that all of our pilots are actively flying and improving their skills.

Chris

1 Like

Hi, Chris.
Sorry for concern.
I’m flight engineer of IL-76. Help me please resolve the dispute with my colleges. I know that some airlines train second officers.
If you participated in such training, is it true that the training programs (for example, Cathay Pacific or Qantas) for the first and second officers are different? This difference is:
Line as a second officer for 6 months or so and have nothing but great things to flight engineer the is primarily concerned with operation monitoring of all aircraft systems required any first may bid line he wishes assignments are made by seniority.
Best regards, Serdar.

Serdar,

I have to be honest, I am not really sure what you are asking. Can you re-phrase the question please?

Chris

Sorry for my english.
The controversy over the fact that SO training is characterized by a large technical knowledge base. The program is designed for a specialist with a technical background. Trying to learn the young pilot having knowledge engineering.


Serdar.

Serdar,

First understand that neither myself nor Chris fly for airlines that have Second Officers. But I do know a few pilots that were at Cathay and here’s what they explained to me. Now Cathay nor Quantas have had Flight Engineers for some time so the Second Officer position is actually a “Cruise Pilot” who never takes off nor lands. Now both Cathay and Quantas both pride themselves on having some of the best, most knowledgeable pilots in the industry and as such both put tremendous emphasis on technical knowledge. So to answer your question (as far as I’ve been told) the training for SO and FO are in fact very similar BUT a greater emphasis is placed on the SO since this is an entry level position and they want to ensure the perspective newhire has the “smarts”.

Adam

1 Like

hey Adam, my name is Ajay am from India.
I do understand the thing which you told, so I have a few questions to share and ask,

Q 1 : As I am intending to join a BSc. (HONS) Professional Aviation Pilot Practice course in Middle sex university, London through L3 airline academy (CTC wings) - for September 2018 intake - will that be a good option for me to work as a airline pilot (or) getting into a airline cadet program would be a good one? As I too have an opportunity to apply for cadet pilot programs in my country -Indigo airlines and Jet Airways - but these are regional airlines will that be a good one than these or a airline pilot course with L3 / CTC wings with a degree?

what are the difference between a cadet pilot program with a airline and a Bsc. hons course with CPL, MPL, ATPL frozen? who would be given a priority for recruitment in other airlines?

Q 2 : In L3 airline academy page they have mentioned that they would be giving intern / work placement in 3rd year of my course along with their Partnered Airlines -will I be recruited / eligible for this placement for intern / job through graduate placement team as I am not an European / have the right to work/live in EEA (European Economic Area) as I am an Indian with a Indian passport.

Q 3 : After completing this BSc. hons course from middle sex university and L3 airline academy I would be obtaining an CPL License, Multi instrument rating and an ATPL (Frozen) with these qualifications will I be able to apply for Second officer programs in other airlines like Singapore airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Virgin Australia, Emirates etc… ?

I have seen in their Second officer program page in the respective airline websites, it shows that they can be of any nationality with a CPL / ATPL frozen along with 250 hours of flying - they can apply for this program - Is that true? will I be selected?
How many years will it take to climb up the ladder as an First Officer though this course?

Please do answer these questions sir! as they may make a clear statement to me!

Ajay,

Honestly neither myself or anyone on this site have any clue as to flight training nor the process in Europe. I recommend you speak with the airlines in Europe, L3 and possibly try some European forums (pprune.org).

Adam