THIS letter is to create awareness among unemployed cadet pilots with frozen Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence (ATPL) to be mindful when attempting to seek employment with a local carrier in a foreign country.
Five young Malaysians, in their anxiety to seek employment with a yet to start new turboprop airline, each paid the equivalent of RM140,000 to the carrier for the aircraft type conversion course.
They passed the ground school course but that was as far as they went.
Despite staying in that country for more than a year at their own expense, they were not employed as promised as the company had failed to secure the air operating certificate (AOC) from the local civil aviation regulatory body.
The five returned to Malaysia recently.
At a flying school outside the capital, 21 young Malaysians, aged between 19 and 21, were misled by an agent in Kuala Lumpur to sign up for a course that was not recognised by the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) in Putrajaya.
They paid the full amount for the course to the school through an agent.
In another case, two Malaysians each paid US$20,000 (RM74,000) for the conversion course also for a turboprop type aircraft with an airline in another country and were subsequently offered employment.
The airline, a turboprop operator, ceased operations even before the two could get the feel of their first commercial flight.
Those seeking employment with an airline, especially a yet to start carrier in a foreign country, have a lot of leg work to do.
Of paramount importance is to find out whether the carrier has secured the AOC and the number of aircraft it has.
As for the flying course, it is best to check with the DCA whether it is recognised before signing up and making payment upfront.
According to the DCA, there are currently 1,500 jobless cadet pilots with frozen ATPL.
The number is expected to increase with more cadets passing out from flying schools and only a few will be hired by local airlines. Supply exceeds demand.
The ATPL is only valid for five years. It is during these five years that one must get a job as a commercial pilot and activate the licence by logging at least 1,500 hours as a first officer (co-pilot) before he can harbour hopes of being promoted to captain with the required number of hours flown when he is due to be upgraded.
Students doing their flying course at local flying schools must note that there is no guarantee of securing a job with any airline as one not only has to meet the basic academic qualifications with the ATPL but also pass the pre-entry written papers set by the airline concerned.
That is not the end of it as there is the interview followed by a stringent medical check-up by a doctor authorised by the DCA.
Parents must realise that it is not the case of having money to finance the course that ensures their son of securing a job after obtaining an ATPL.
Students with higher academic qualifications who are recruited by an airline and sent for training by the carrier are the ones who are assured of a job when they finish their course with an ATP.