Cathay Pacific Cadet Pilots

Cathay Pacific, the Hong Kong based long-haul airline has long offered cadet schemes for budding pilots, to take you from zero hours to the right seat of a large airliner such as their brand new Airbus A350 to their Boeing 747 or 777.

We have put together a brief guide on their latest offering:

Who are Cathay Pacific?

Founded in 1946, Cathay Pacific remains deeply committed to its home base, making substantial investments to develop Hong Kong as one of the world’s leading global passenger and transport hubs. We are a proud member of the Swire Group, and a founder member of the oneworld global alliance, which connects us to over 900 destinations worldwide. The Cathay Pacific group employs nearly 25,000 people in Hong Kong, and 32,000 worldwide. We offer cargo and passenger services to over 180 destinations globally, and through our subsidiary airline Dragonair, ensure convenient connections to additional regional destinations around Asia. Cathay Pacific is the proud sponsor of one of the few fully funded Cadet Pilot programmes available worldwide, and currently employ just over 3,000 pilots from 43 nations.

Cathay’s Worldwide Bases

Captain & First Officers – Hong Kong, New York, Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, Toronto, London, Manchester Frankfurt, Anchorage, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Auckland.

As a Second Officer (Cadet Pilot) you will be based in Hong Kong.

Cathay Pacific Fleet

Boeing 747-400, 747-8, 777-300ER and Airbus A330-300, A350-900, A350-1000.

Being a Cathay Pacific Second Officer…

You’ve studied hard, undertaken relentless training, sat the theoretical exams and flight tests, and now you are a fully-fledged Cathay Pacific Second Officer. What next?

As a Second Officer, you will be based in Hong Kong and operating long haul and ultra long haul flights to many exciting destinations.

From the moment you first don your Cathay Pacific uniform and take your place in the cockpit of one of the best and most modern aircraft in the world, you’ll feel a sense of pride and excitement at being part of this professional operation. Every flight is different, filled with challenge and adventure. You’ll work with an incredible diversity of people, experience cultures from all over the globe, learn in a supportive environment, and work with the very best technologies in the world.

Cathay Pacific Second Officers are integral members of our flight deck crew. You’ll fly as a cruise co-pilot and monitor the activities of our operating crew – a pivotal role in the efficient operation of our airline. You will also be exposed to our standard operating procedures, and encouraged to learn, grow and develop.


When you graduate from Cadet to Second Officer, you will be based in Hong Kong and continue your learning at Cathay Pacific City.

As our on-going training reinforces our emphasis on safety and technical proficiency, study outside of your scheduled flights will be required. Our pilots are scheduled for regional, long haul and ultra long haul operations 365 days a year. Given that Second Officers only operate on long haul and ultra long haul routes, their roster allows a significant amount of ‘free time’ to pursue sports and other activities. Our crew are able to maintain a work-life balance which many other professionals can only envy.

Built on four hectares of land, Cathay Pacific City is a purpose-built, self-contained ‘city’, right next to Hong Kong International Airport. It incorporates a crew hotel, several restaurants, medical /dental facilities, shops, gymnasium, a swimming pool and world class sporting facilities.


At Cathay Pacific, you’ll be offered a competitive remuneration package, the numerous lifestyle benefits provided reflect their intention to attract and retain the best, and they regularly review their salary packages to ensure their competitiveness. They also put safety first and support you with exceptional benefits, like:

  • 21 days’ annual leave, increasing to 42 days on upgrade to First Officer
  • Loss of Licence, Life and Medical insurance
  • Up to 90% education allowance to help with your children’s education in Hong Kong
  • 50% reimbursement of nursery and reception fees
  • Comprehensive private medical insurance for you, your spouse and your children
  • Discretionary 13th-month salary and profit share
  • Travel discounts for you, your spouse, your children and your parents or in-laws
  • 15.5% company contribution to a pension scheme
  • Salary tax capped at 15%
  • Annual salary increments within rank

The Programme
(From Cathay Pacific’s Webpage)

The Cathay Pacific Cadet Pilot Programme typically comprises training for people with little or no flying experience. Our goal is to help you achieve your dream of becoming a fully qualified Second Officer at Cathay Pacific.

You will initially undergo just over one year of training at Australia’s Flight Training Adelaide (FTA). Training includes 160 hours of flying by day and night, in a variety of single and twin-engine light aircraft, and 40 hours in simulators. Our intensive programme of classroom lectures will also prepare you for the many examinations that must be passed before you can obtain your CPL licence.

After successful completion of the FTA course, you will return to Hong Kong as a Second Officer, and embark on your new career. The first three to five months of your return will focus on induction, ground school training, full-flight simulator sessions, and line flying. These three months are intended to consolidate what you’ve learnt about multi-crew operations, as well as introduce commercial considerations and other operational requirements. You will also learn more technical aspects that are specific to the aircraft type that you will fly.


The Cadet Pilot Programme is a 55 week programme for Hong Kong permanent Identity card holders with zero or little flying experience. There are also two entry programmes to incorporate global applicants, these include:

The Advanced Entry programme – a 32 week programme for applicants who possess an ICAO CPL and have in excess of 250 hours flight time in specified categories.

The Transition Training programme – a 5 week programme for applicants with an ICAO ATPL, with a minimum of 1500 hours total time, including 500 hours multi-engine time on aircraft with a MTOW greater than 2000kg.


There are several stages in Cathay’s selection process. Initially, two stages of interviews will assess you on many levels. They will want to gauge your discipline, determination, ambition, enthusiasm for aviation, problem solving skills, competencies in mathematics and English, your technical aptitude and, of course, compatibility with their corporate standards.

You will also:

  • Be physically fit and qualify for a Class 1 Medical
  • Meet their flight deck reach requirements
  • Have the right of abode in Hong Kong
  • Have a secondary school education with good passes in mathematics and science, or a degree or diploma, or passes in all ATPL subjects
  • Be 18 years of age or more.

If you successfully navigate the interview process, you will be sent to Adelaide for your flight grading assessment. If successful during this final assessment you will then commence your training.

Interview process

When you apply for the Cadet Pilot Programme, you will need to pass several stages of a rigorous selection process. This includes a mixture of interviews, medical examinations, computer aptitude tests, and tests of spoken and written English.

  • Stage 1: COMPASS aptitude testing, Reasoning test , Job knowledge test and interview.
  • Stage 2: Group exercise, Flight Planning assessment, Professional Profile, Aptitude test, and interview
  • Stage 3: Aircrew medical, English language test
  • Stage 4: Pilot specific computer based testing

If you’re interested in flying a modern long-haul airliner for a World renowned airline, and you’re happy to live and work in Hong Kong, then this scheme is probably for you.

Find out more information and apply.

Related Articles

Please wait...

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Sign up for all the latest news direct to your inbox