(File pix) The local flying academy offered a flying course, including twin-engine instrument rating, for an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL), which is recognised by airlines worldwide. (pix by MUHD ZAABA ZAKERIA)

YOUTHS aspiring to take up flying as a career should check with the Civil Aviation Department (DCA) in Putrajaya to find out whether courses offered by flying schools in foreign countries are recognised by the government and airlines operating in the country.

Recently, one of my cousins’ sons attended a seminar conducted by an agent for three flying schools — one local and two foreign.

The local flying academy offered a flying course, including twin-engine instrument rating, for an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL), which is recognised by airlines worldwide.

The foreign ones train cadets only for a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), which is not recognised by Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Malindo Air, AirAsia X, MASwings and Firefly.

As one who works closely with the aviation industry in the Asia Pacific, I would like to say that those who obtained a CPL abroad need to train at a local flying school to acquire an ATPL if they want a job with a local carrier.

While on assignment in a foreign country recently, I met five Malaysian cadet pilots who were attending a CPL course at a flying school that was recommended by an agent. They said they only realised it was not recognised by DCA on the first day of the course.

On a different note, local flying schools should consider raising the admission requirements, which is currently five Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia credits.

Many cadets with ATPL are unable to secure jobs because they have failed the aptitude tests conducted by the respective airlines.

There are an estimated 620 jobless graduates who completed their courses at local flying schools. My nephew is one of them. He sent applications to four local airlines and a carrier in a neighbouring country, and only received negative replies.

The ATPL is only valid for five years. During this period graduates must get a job as a commercial pilot and activate the licence by logging 1,500 hours to be promoted to a senior first officer before he can harbour hopes of being promoted to captain with the required number of flying hours when he is due to be upgraded.

Students who want to enrol in flying courses locally must take note of the fact besides basic academic qualifications with ATPL, they also have to sit for pre-entry written papers set by the airlines. There is also an interview followed by a stringent medical check-up by a doctor authorised by DCA.

Parents must realise that having the money to finance the course does not guarantee their children a job after obtaining an ATPL.

This is the painful experience that my younger brother had to go through, more so as his son is only anSPM holder.

My brother spent RM320,000 on his son’s course which dragged on for three years and seven months when he should have completed it in 18 months, as stated by the flying school. The school has since closed.

The delay was due to the fact that the school did not have an airworthy twin engine aircraft. Towards the end of my nephew’s course, the school had one leased twin-engine aircraft while another was grounded for technical reasons.

Students with higher academic qualifications and recruited by an airline and sent for training are the ones who are assured of a job when they finish their course with an ATPL.

WILLIAM DENNIS

Subang Jaya, Selangor

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