Cathay Pacific Cadet Pilot Program Info!

Due to the recent surge in number of emails I receive with regards to the Cathay Pacific Cadet Pilot Process, especially from international applicants, I have summarize my interview process in this post… I hope this will help some of your guys on your Cadet Pilot Application! (Note: please do not leave me a message in my old blog [this new one is fine], I will not be able to reply to your comments, there’s a few people who have message me on my old blog [blogger and my old wowpeter blog], if you are still interested to have your question answers, please message me here!)

[Note: If you are an international applicants. You will still do everything that I have mention below but the order of events will be rearranged to fit with the schedule used for international applicants. I got an update from a friend who got in as an international applicant and he has provided a general timeline for the international applicants. You can see it at the end of this post!]

Stage 1 – Initial Test:

1) English Listening Test:
This is a 100 questions test and everyone is in the same room and you listen to a tape and try to pick out the key words said in the tape by underlining the correct answer. This is based on the Oxford English Listening Test. Watch out though as the speaker on the tape has a very strong English accent, so you might want to brush that up if you are from North America.

2) English Grammer Test:
This is another 100 questions test and everyone is in the same room again. You have 40 minutes to complete this test. Again, you are suppose to underline one of the three correct answer.

3) Aptitute Test:
There are different parts in the Aptitute Test.

a) First part of the test, there are two short parallel lines with a dot in between. The two parallel lines will move left and right at varing speed and distance and you are suppose to use the joy-stick to move to dot and keep the dot as close to the lines as possible. This test will gets more difficult when your scores get higher and if you are not keeping up, your score will drop. You get 3 tries to get an average score.

b) In the second test, it is pretty much the same thing but with a twist. Instead of having the computer increasing you score and difficulty, you are suppose to press the green button to increase your score and thus increase your difficulty. And if things get too hard and it is out of control, you are suppose to press the red button to reduce your score and difficulty. If you did not press the red button, you will automatically lose score onces things get out of control. So it is quite hard as you try to get maximum points while keeping things under control. Again, you get 3 tries to get an average score.

c) In this test, you are suppose to bring this aircraft to this point in the glide path. You are suppose to align the plane with the runway and bring it down to 50 feet from touch down at the same time reduce the speed to 100km/h. In this test, you use your joy-stick and the red and green button for throttle control. You will get points according to the speed of your approach (you are suppose to keep your speed as fast as possible before you reach 50 feet as you get higher points for a faster average approach speed), your angle of alignment. You will get 1 test try and 5 real tries.

d) Quick Subtraction, you will need to do 50 quick subtaction questions. All you need to do is to confirm the answer is right or wrong. You will get points for your speed and accuracy.

e) In this test, you are going to use the rudder paddle and your joy-stick to try to keep this cross within this box. The computer will try to move the cross away from the box to simulate wind. It is an interesting test. You will get points for the horizontal and vertical errors. You get 3 tries.

f) Shoot the bandit. This test use the red and green button. You will be shown two aircraft with two different wing span, the one with the longer wing span is the bad guy, the one with the shorter span is the good guy. Then the computer will randomly pop up planes with different wing span on the screen and you get 1.5 seconds to decide to press the green to shot or red to stop. If you did not decided within 1.5 seconds, the computer will automatically shot it down. You will do this for a total of 3 times and each time there will be 50 planes to decide which to shoot or not, the different in the wing span size get smaller on each time. In the last try, you can barely tell the difference. You will be score for your reaction time and accuracy.

4) Reasoning Test:
There’s two section to this test but basically you are being test on the same type of questions. You are suppose to decide which one of the 8 symbols belong to the missing one. You have 5 minutes for the first test, you should have enough time to do it as it only has 10 questions. Then you have 40 minutes for 36 questions. These questions are more difficult but you should have more then enough time to do this.

5) Presentation:
Finally, you are suppose to do your presentation in front of one of the recruitment lady. She is very nice and I think the actual substnace of the presentation does not really matter that much but it is more of an oral test. They want to know that you can actually speak proper English. The lady really only paid attention to me for the first 30 seconds and then she begin to do her own thing and write something down on your application. But you need to at least do some research on your assigned topics before you go into your presentation.

Anyway, so this is the run down of my initial test. I am suppose to hear back from them within 3 weeks. I think I did pretty good. I was a little bit nervous during my presentation but I think I did ok. I don’t think I get perfect in my grammer test but I think I did ok also. On the other hand, I did great in the reasoning test and I am pretty good on the aptitude test so we will see. I hope I will get to move onto Stage 2… I want this job… We will see what happen.

Stage 1 – 1st Interview:

Anyway, in my 1st interview though, I was being interviewed by 2 pilot (one local & one overseas) from the CX airbus fleet. The overseas pilot is name Joe and he is the main interviewer. So before the interview starts, Joe pretty much gave me the overall plan for the interview and then he begin asking me questions… he starts off with what I am doing right now and why I am doing it… then move onto my family, so they are pretty much getting the background information about me. The ask me about school, I told him I go to Queen’s because I got a scholarship… After that they move onto specific topics on your resume, they asked me about being a student member on the Canadian Aeronautical & Space Institute… they ask me being on the Mini-Baja Off Road Vehicle Team while in school… etc etc… I guess just know yourself and you will be fine…

After that they ask me about Cathay stuff… they ask me if I am to complete the cadet pilot program, what position will you be as a flight crew… so that’s easy, second officer… then they ask me do I know what a second officer do, I told them right away that the second officer will babysit the autopilot (I think that’s a bad answer but it gave the interviewer a laugh) and then I get more serious, and I told them that I am there as a relief crew and I am there to monitor the airplane system during cruise and also to maintain communications with the ground and report locations… then they ask me what happen if something goes wrong during cruise, what will you do… I told them that if the problem is minor, I am sure me and the first officer (relief captain) will be able to hand it… if it is a major problem, then I think I will inform the captain about the situations… Joe move on to ask me what kind of aircraft does CX operate, so I name them easily enough… then he wants to know how many aircarft… that kinda gave me a hard time, I told him about 80 something (I should have know the
answer to that)… Joe then ask me the runway name at the Hong Kong airport, I told them 7L and 7R… he ask me how about if you fly in the opposite direction… so I was like, just add 180 degree… and then I was like 180 + 7… 187 and then I was like that’s not right… and then Joe said don’t worry about it… and then suddenly, it came across my mind that it is 18+7… I said it out loud, I am so stupid… it is 180 + 70… so it is 25L and 25R… so he said it was correct and he wrote something down on paper… haha… hope that didn’t give them any bad impression… haha… Then Joe ask me if I am an second officer on the airbuses, which destination will I go to… I only know a few, so I told them NYC, Toronto, sometimes Europe like Frankfort… and I told him they use airbus on australian route also but I donno will they have a second officer…. and then Joe (I think he is from australia) ask me to name all the CX destination for Austrialia… I can only name 4 out of the 6… Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Adaliede… I donno the rest… he clearly know that I donno the rest of them… so Joe get up and go to the write board and drew a map of Austrialia and then put a few dots on the map and he wanted me to start naming them on the map… now that kinda mess me up, a geography test… haha… that tense me up a little bit… I still can not answer the last 2 destination… but at the end, he even ask me the rock in the middle of australia… haha… I donno the exact name… something spring… he told me it is alice spring and then he move on to tell me that he don’t expect me to know all that… so I can breath easier after that… haha… so that was the most difficult part of the interview for me :O)

After that Joe starts asking me airplane related stuff because Joe said I must know about airplanes since I study Engineering (and I do :OP)… so Joe first started and wanting me to tell them how a Jet Engine work… so straight away, I told him I took a course on TurboMachinery so I know a lot about Jet Engine… after I said that, before I can explain… Joe quickly said, then if that’s the case, you probably know more then I do, so I am going to ask you something else… and the whole time Joe is smiling and the interview feels very causal and comfortable. Then he moves on to ask me do I know what is winglet, I told him that a winglet is a device to reduce drag… and then I move on to explain how a winglet works on the wing… I told Joe that the air on the upper surface of the wing will move toward the wing root and the air at the bottom surface will move away from the wing root and when that air leaves the wing, it will create vortex and then increase drag… so a winglet is there to reduce that drag and create more lift… I also told him that on a 747-400, a winglet will reduce drag about 3%… he seems surprise that I know all that… and then he ask me other stuff like flaps, and I told him it is to increase lift but at the same time increase drag also… and I told him on a 747, it has triple slotted flaps and A340 has double slotted… so I think I gave Joe a good impression from the technical part of the conversation…

At the end, Joe ask me how do I think about my interview… I told him I think I did ok and then he ask me how to improve it if I can… I told him I will stop moving my hand, I told him I am a little bit nervous and whenever I am nervous, I tend to explain things with my hand… (after the interview though, I though I should have also said that I should read more about the Cathay Pacific destinations, but I didn’t… oh well…)…

Then the local pilots starts asking me questions, I think his name was Chris if I remember it correctly… he only ask me a few questions like… do I know any flying club at Kingston, Ontario (where I go to school)… I told him there’s the kingston flying club and the fontanic flying club… there is also an military base there and the cadet from the military college also learns how to fly there… and then Chris ask me why don’t I learn how to fly at the flying club… I simply gave him an honest answer, I can not afford it while I was in school… It will cost about $16,000 to $20,000 canadian to just get your PPL… so he ask me did I try a demonstration flights, I told him I never did, when I ask the club, I have only ask them about information on getting a PPL licience… but I told him it will cost a few hundred to get a short flight around kingston…

After that Joe cuts in and asked, what is the one thing that you think me and Chris will remember you as after this interview? So I gave them an honest answer again, I told them I think I have shown them that I am someone who is really interested in aviation. I think that counts a lot and I am really interested in working in the aviation industry.

So after that, Joe asked me do I have any questions for them… I just ask them how long is the whole selection process… and Joe told me assuming I passes all stages, it will take a few months… but it is better if I asked the office lady, they will know better… after that I said I don’t have any more questions for them… and that’s the end of my interview… we shook hands… and that’s it…

ICAO English Test:

Somewhere between Stage 1 and Flight Grading, you will need to do you ICAO English Test, this is the new international requirements for anyone who is pursuing a career in aviation. You will need a minimum of ICAO Level 4 to pass this test… as ICAO Level 4 is the minimum requirements for pilot working in airline operations. I do not have any info on this ICAO English test, as I only need to do this English test after my training in Australia (because it is a new requirement back then)… and I am one of the first batch for this ICAO English test, so the test itself have been change and modified over the past few years. But basically, if you can speak descent English and grew up in an English speaking environment (even if your mother tongue is not english), you should get level 5 or 6. If you are not a native speaker and did not grew up in an English speaking environment, you will still get level 4 if you work hard enough over the years on your English skills.

Stage 2:

1) Math and Personality Test on Computer…

The honest truth after doing the Math test is that you can not really study for this… the Math component of this test is very simple and straight forward, if you can do simple add, subtract, multiply and dividing then you will be fine… the most difficult part of this test is that the amount of questions and the actual questions is long and you have to understand what they are asking… also there’s a lot of charts and tables and data analyse… so when you have 33 questions and a time limit of 30 minutes (there’s a timer on the computer and the program will shut off after 30 minutes), there’s no way that you can finish this test… it is simply not possible… just reading the questions or looking at the chart will takes you 45 secs to a minute each… what I eventually have done is that I simply skip the chart and data and go right into the questions and then trying to search out the data later… I manage to finish 26 questions this way and I am sure I have answer most of them correctly… so i think I am pretty good at this test…

For the personality test, you have 45 minutes to do 187 questions… you have to answer 5 to 6 questions every minute to finish this test and you are required to finish this test… although there’s no official timer on the computer, they expect you to finish within this time frame… so in truth, they don’t want you to think about the answer, they just want you to be honest and just answer the questions… and I think that’s all you need to do… there’s no point of thinking too much onto each questions… It is a test to see if u r crazy, if u r not, I am sure you will pass…

2) Job Knowledge Test

Every candidate will receive a book to study before the stage 2 interview… and that’s what
this test is all about… there’s a total of 50 questions and you need to complete it in 45 minutes… there’s a few trick questions where you need to know more then what they have told you in the book… lucky that I have done some reserach and go more in depth into each subject, so I manage to answer a lot of them… some of them I still can not answer… but overall, if you study everything from the book, you should do fine in this test… the last 5 questions is Cathay Pacific related which is not in the book… it is about their aircraft and company, etc… so you might want to brush up on the info. on their web-site before hand also… overall, I think I did well in this test also :O)

3) Group Exercise

All four candidate take part in this together… we were presented each with a set of information and we have 35 minutes to work together to try to come up with an idea answers to the problem… each candidate have slightly different informations so it is important to commuicate… there are two cathay staffs (Alan & Kelly) there to observe our interaction… so it is important to speak up and at the same time listen to others… it is a fun exercise and it is not difficult at all but they want to see some team work there and they really want to see that you can work well with others.

After that we finish the morning section and a few of us (the candidates) went to lunch together at Cathay City.. And after lunch, we head back to the waiting area and me and this other candidate Chris also from Canada, we were to do the flight planning exercise together…

4) Flight Planning Exercise

The flight planning exercise is pretty straight forward, we were allow 15 minutes to read up and work together… then one of the two Cathay Staff (one of them is a pilot, his name is Jacky and he is the same pilot that interview me during the 1st interview… As for the other guy, his name is Glen and he is also a pilot. They gave us a sheet of paper each and told us to read the info on the sheet of paper, then they start asking us questions while the other observe… and he asked us some basic questions and then observe our answers… he then told us to work together to figure out the ideal flight path… then he ask us to work individually to work out the math involve in the exercise… overall, this is a pretty easy exercise and it’s actually pretty fun too :O) But once again, there is a little trick where u actaully do not have all the information to get the final answers to this test, each person has a slightly different information and if you don’t communication you will get the wrong answers! After you finish, u r supposed to write a one page summary of your results of this exercise!

5) Panel Interview

So the final things for me to do for the day is the panel interview… Belinda Chan and Kylie Smith were there to interview us individually and it last about 50 minutes… Belinda ask the general questions, like why do you want to be a pilot… stuff that you have doing… but it is pretty tough… she will pick on every details that you mention and they will question you on it… so don’t say the wrong stuff… if you did say the wrong stuff and she manage to get you in a corner and you donno what to answer (like me)… then simply tell them truthfully what you feel and why did you feel a certain way or think a certain way… I thinnk Belinda is pushing very hard just so that she can make sure that you are committed to do this… after Belinda finish her questioning, Kylie takes over on the technical questions… Kylie ask me some pretty engineering stuff about airplanes (I heard from Chris who have flying experience, Kylie ask her about flying procedure and stuff, so I guess it depends on your background)… Kylie ask me about everything from aerodynamics, to flaps and slot and slat… to fluid dynamic equations… to why certain device is certain shape… explain how this work… etc etc… there’s a few questions that I can not answer, like why did the A380 and the A340 have different type of winglet… why did Airbus use the same type of winglet originally design for A320… and implement it on the A380 instead of using the A340 types… I have no idea why, so I just told her the I donno, and she doesn’t seems to mind… and she asked me other stuff like what happen if the static tube on the pressure head is iced up during decend… what will the altimeter indicate… I know it will show no decend at all and I got that right… and then she ask, what will happen to the airspeed indicator… then after thinking for a minute or two… I told her the indicator will reflect a speed faster then the actual speed… and I got that right also… so overall, I think I did pretty well… I think I have made a good impression for Belinda and Kylie…


So today, I have my medical at Cathay City… The nurse told me that if pass this medical, I will have pass the Class 1 Aircrew medical for the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department… So overall, I think today went well I guess… I am quite nervous the whole time though… I am just never comfortable in the doctors office… so when the doctor measrure my blood pressure, it read a little high but still within the limit according to the doctor at Cathay (normally when I see a doctor, this never happens)… the Cathay doctor told me the high blood pressure is probably “White-coat tension” which means it is probably due to me getting nervous when visiting a doctor (hence white coat)… he said he just have to monitor my blood pressure next time I visit his office… so I guess my blood pressure pass :O)
As for the eye and the ear test, I think I pass… the ECG test, I have no idea… finally the blood and urine test, I probably will not known until later in the week… so let’s hope that I pass them also… I hope I will pass medical… I really wanna this job and if medical is the one that fails me, I will have no idea what else I can do… so I really wish I will pass… I guess I will know in a few days…
As for now, I am going to prepare for my management interview on Wednesday… it will be fun fun fun :O)

Management Interview (could be the same day as the medical):

I just got a call from the Cathay doctor about the Medical results… I pass… so at least Medical is out the the way…

Now, lets talk about the Management Interview today… it was pretty interesting… this was an interview with two senior management pilot… it was pretty relaxing and they asked me a lot of personal questions and they asked me some technical questions… overall, it was a very interesting experience… I think I did pretty well in the interview today… so let’s hope that I will pass this stage also…

After the interview… I got to meet and have lunch with all the other candidates invited to the management interview… there was a total 6 of us… and we had lunch with the 4 management pilots and other human resources staff members… there was also a management trainee there also… At lunch, I got to talk to a few of the pilots, the human resources staff and other candidates also… It was an interesting and relaxing events… It was more talking and very little eating :O) haha… Anyway, it was fun…

So apparently we will hear back from them probably in the next one or two days… if I pass the management interview then I will be going to Adeliade for two weeks of flight grading… It will be fun, let’s just hope that I pass today… wish me luck :O)

Flight Grading:

As I did not write up anything about flight grading from before, I am writting this section up based on my memory 3 years ago. You might be able to obtain more updated information on the internet.

Flight grading schedule depends on your prior flying experience, but pretty much CX will send you to Adelaide for 2 weeks to test how quickly you learn how to fly. If you have less than 10 hours (or 20 not sure) of flying experience, you will do basic flight grading. More th
an 10 hours, you will perform advance flight grading. Since I have no prior experience, I am assigned to basic flight grading.

Basic Flight Grading:

Basically, we will take a total of 10 flight (#10 flight being the test flight). During the first 9 flights, you learn everything that you will need to learn for your first solo. You learn take-off, straight and level, rate 1 turn, steep turn, climb, descent, wing-over, unusual attitude recovery, circuits, and landing. You will perform all 10 flights on the grob at the training school in adelaide. On each of the 10 flights, you will be evaluated on everything that you do on a 1 to 10 scale. At the end of the 10 flight (including the test flight), they will review your ability to learn, your retention rate and your improvement after each flight. The training school will submit a report back to Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong. If the training school deem you are suitable, you will be accepted for the program.

Advance Flight Grading:

Basically, you will do 4 flights instead of 10 flights on the grob. You will be doing the exactly the same thing within that 4 flights. After the 4 flights, you will have 4 simulator ride (on a fix based simulator), this is to teach you point to point and basic IFR navigation. After that, there is a test of your basic IFR. Don’t worry if you have never don’t IFR before, they will teach you. They just want to test how quickly can you learn and pick it up.

Experience as a cadet:

My cadet pilot experience is generally good. CX Cadet pilot is probably the best way to enter an airline if being an airline pilot is your childhood dreams. It allow u to skip the 7 to 10 years of instructing and regional flying that you normally needed before you can apply and enter a major carrier like Cathay Pacific (however CX do require you to sign a 6 year non-binding bond with them, so you will have to work for them for 6 years or else they can ask u to pay them back the training cost, but it is non-binding as it is not legal to have a binding contract in Hobg Kong, so you can look at it as there are no bond if u want)… But because cadet is a program tailor to train airline pilot, The training is hard work as they cramp in about 2 and a half to 3 years worth of training into a 14 months program. This basically means you will have to work 6 days a week for 60 weeks straight! I still remember on certains days i will have full day ground school from 8am to 5pm and on my flying days i could have 2 flight (1 hour circuit and a 3 hour navigation exercise) plus a 3 hour simulator at night… So it can get quit busy at times! If you are lucky and if u r ahead of the schedule, you will get a week holiday midway through, if you are behind schedule you won’t get your holiday. Also, CX train you to the CX standard from day 1 of ur training, that means u r getting the best training you can get anywhere. From day one, you are taught how to think like an airline pilot (unlike what u will normally learn at other flight school).
The cadet training nowdays is generally less stressful than before, as they now have a dedicated manager from CX who is incharge of each course. Also the graduation schedule is a little bit more flexible because of the current economy, before we can’t be late and there are people who are taken off the course because they are too far behind schedule on their training… Nowadays, the new managers are friendlier than the old manager who used to be incharge back when I was doing my training. However that does not mean there won’t be any stress. There is a general policy that u have 2 chances during ur cadet training (this will reduce to 1 if u make a major fuck up), if u mess up twice u will be remove from the course. This is a way for CX to ensure their high standard is maintain. However, CX is not there to fail you, as they are not there to throw money down the drain, so if u work hard u should pass the course without any problem.

Beside the training part, I think the most important questions is what is it like after the training. Once you finish ur training in Australia (that’s where the cadet training will be done), you will return to Hong Kong for 4 more months of type training and than became a second officer at Cathay Pacific. Life as a first year second officer will be very exciting however the initial excitment wears off and it can get a bit boring until you get upgrade to become a first officer… As a second officer, u don’t actually get to do any take off and landing except in the simulator (you will do a 4 hours simulator every 2 to 3 months, this is used as your 90 days recency). However the travel and the excitment in the cockpit is still there and I won’t trade my experience with anything else.

Time Line for International Applicant:

A general breakdown of what I went through:
Online Application – Perhaps the most important step…. your application must stand out from thousands of others. Put some effort into it and be honest.

Stage 1 – Vancouver, B.C. 1 day. JKI (job knowledge test based on booklet), Interview, Reasoning Test, English Test.
*Interview – Majority was personal questions, however, there were technical questions that got progressively more difficult. I believe they are trying to see how you react to their questions and your process to reason an answer…. again, be honest.

Stage 2 – Hong Kong. 1 day. Briefing on days events w/ Carol De La Harpe.
* Group Exercise – Obviously to see how you interact with other individuals to complete a task (teamwork). The task is very straight forward, don’t try to control the situation, however, don’t be a mute…. be yourself and be cooperative.

* Interview – two active pilots. Questions were again personal and technical….remember they are trying to see what kind of personality and character strengths you possess and how they would transfer into the company.

* Aptitude Test – Has not changed….. parallel line chase, approach and landing, quick subtraction, box and cross-hairs

* Math and Psychology testing – Again it has not changed…. 33 question math test, impossible to finish….187 question Psyc test.

* Flight Planning Exercise – Emphasis on teamwork…. the planning and simple math required is secondary to how well you can work with someone else.

Stage 3 – Hong Kong. Following stage 2 for 1 day.

* Medical – Standard aviation medical + blood test.

* ICAO English Test – In depth english test ….comprehension based.

* Management Interview – Once again the questions were a mix of personal and technical….. All three interviews were aimed at getting to know you.. you must remember as a cadet applicant they are not necessarily looking for technically savvy pilot’s they are looking for someone with the right personality i.e. leadership qualities, teamwork skills, ability to communicate effectively etc… HOWEVER you must keep in mind they do want to see that you have taken initiative and gathered as much information as possible to show your enthusiasm and commitment. As well, if you do have previous flying experience, such as myself, be sure to know everything you should for the amount of hours flown (and maybe a touch more).

Anyway, hope all of the above information will help any perspective applicants! Good luck on all your applications! See you all in CX City one day!


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