Every month: A very special interview on Pilotman.net!
This month we have the honor to interview Stan, a student pilot currently following the Swiss International Airlines Cadet Pilot programme.
Hi Tim! Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us. Could you introduce yourself to our visitors?
Hi everyone! My name is Stan and I am in the process of finishing the basic training courses for the Swiss Cadet Pilot Program (Swiss Aviation Training) in order to become an airline pilot. I was born and raised in a small town near Lausanne and located in the French speaking region of Switzerland. As a child, I’ve always been fascinated by sciences and mechanics.
One day, I received a game called “Flight Simulator 2002” as a present. That particular moment was a revelation and I discovered that I would love flying airplanes as a pilot. Furthermore, I do love all the sciences that are involved with the aviation world! Unfortunately, I realized that becoming an airline pilot was very costly in terms of founds. I do come from a middle class family, and money has always been tight. Therefore, it would be a compromise to finance my studies, and I thought I orient myself with another career in a different field.
However, I really had the desire to fulfill my dreams and made up my mind. I had to give it a try by working hard, extremely hard.
I need to add that everyone who has a dream in his or her life should make it happen! Someone who does not try hard enough gets nothing!
We already had an interview with Tom (Clic to here to view Tom’s interview), who is a pilot at Swiss International Airlines, but as previously mentioned, you are currently attending the Swiss pilot training as a Cadet. What are the entry requirements to become a Swiss Cadet?
The requirements in order to become a Cadet are quiet similar compared to other European airlines. A potential candidate must be a Swiss or a European resident. Applicants must be between twenty to thirty-three years old. The size and weight should be average, within a certain range of tolerances, of course. In addition, each candidate must hold a “Maturité fédérale” (Abitur for the German speakers or a “Baccalauréat”) if he or she wants to apply at Swiss Int’l Airlines.
On the other hand, a candidate must have reached the highest apprenticeship level with at least a three-year degree if he or she applies to Swiss European. Furthermore, Swiss male candidates must have completed their basic military training service which corresponds to the basic 21 weeks. As far as I am concerned, the main requirements for any applicant are foreign languages. Each one should be fluent in English and German with a B2 Level at least in order to succeed.
Now regarding the French native speaker applicants, I would suggest to them learning well German and reach a little C1 Level as a minimum. A French or even Italian native speaker needs to realize that most courses will be taught in this language, and his or her future classmates are most likely to be German native speakers as well.
Please, can you briefly describe all the different steps in regards to the Cadet Pilot selection process of Swiss International Airlines?
The very first step is to fill an application with Swiss Int’l Airlines. Then the selection process will begin. Please, note that each test is eliminatory.
– First, the candidate will be tested on a computer. It includes mathematics, self-concentration, memorization and spaced orientation competencies etc…
– The second step is a group assignment. Each candidate will receive a segment of a problem to be solved. Please, note that team efforts and working abilities will be tested.
– If the candidate succeeds, he or she will be requested to pass the “instruments test”. The candidate will be seated in front of a panel of flying instruments in order to coordinate movements with frequent cross-checks. Meanwhile, he or she will need to resolve some other tasks.
– Now, the candidate will be evaluated with a Pilot Instrument Trainer (PIT). The PIT is a small flying simulator composed with a panel of basic instruments, which includes clusters such as RPM, attitude, altitude and a few more. Then, the candidate will receive several verbal orders along with a flight plan that must be followed. This is a crucial moment and each candidate must remain concentrated.
– Furthermore, the applicant needs to be fit in order to fly an airline. He or she has to pass a medical examination to obtain a Medical Class 1 Certificate, proving he or she is healthy. There is no preparation for this exam besides being a healthy individual to begin with.
– Last but not least: The Interview. This is the final step of the selection process. The candidate will be interviewed by a psychologist and a Swiss-official. It is important to remain calm and honest. Be yourself! There are no dead-end questions that will be asked. Each candidate will tell about his or her life, his or her hobbies and so one. Overall, this is a normal, down to earth discussion.
From that point, the candidate will need to wait up to thirty days until the committee at Swiss makes a final decision. This is called the Board 1. Then if a candidate is selected, he or she will be incorporated into Swiss’s training program as a “Pre-financed trainee” or a “self-financed trainee”.
What is the training process and what are the differences between the Swiss International pilot training and other pilot schools?
At Swiss Aviation Training, all students must meet the company’s requirements during the selection process by displaying an outstanding level of skills and fulfill a predefined psychological profile. The training is well-defined and each trainee is required to attend it, and in addition, teamwork efforts between students is capital in order to success.
Swiss Aviation Training do offers many courses which are given in classrooms as well as via distance learning. All ground and flight instructors are very experienced and bring their knowledge to trainees.
For his or her major, a trainee must select one of the two following options: Air Transport Pilot (ATPL) or Multi Pilot (MPL). Once the ATPL course is achieved, the trainee will be licensed with a frozen ATPL. The frozen ATPL corresponds to the ATPL theoretical knowledge examination with a Commercial Pilot License (CPL) and as well as Instrument Rating (IR).
Furthermore, the ATPL major is based on trainee’s experience inside a cockpit with many hours of flying achieved.
On the other hand, the MPL program is primarily based on trainee’s competency and each exam must be passed throughout the entire length of the program. When the course is completed, the future pilot will be licensed with the theoretical ATPL only. Please, note that the MPL generally leads to a direct employment opportunity with Swiss International Airlines because this option is oriented towards airline operations.
Welcome in Vero Beach
The Swiss Aviation Training step by step
Your training at Swiss Aviation Training is composed by different Theoretical (T) and Practical (P) Blocks:
For seven weeks, all students will be taught the basic foundations of aviation such as the following: air law, instrumentation, airframe, systems, the principles of flight and much more. At the end of this block, there are some examinations to make sure each trainee has understood the theory.
During seven weeks, each trainee is piloting a Diamond DA40NG equipped with Garmin-1000 in order to acquire the basics such as take-off, landing, stall, steep turns and the first solo flight, which is an unforgettable moment.
This block is essentially a home studying. Even though most of the theory has been completed at school, students have many homework assigned. It lasts four weeks and there are many in-depth subjects to carefully study.
This twelve weeks block consists of theory and practice, and lots of subjects are covered. For example, the basic principles of Instrument Rules (IR) are instructed by flying a twin engine Diamond DA42 simulator. I must underline this block is very intense. At the end of this block, there are some other exams, which are compulsory.
All students are traveling to Vero Beach Municipal Airport, Florida in the United States for VFR and IFR training. The training lasts two to three months altogether. At first, each student pilots a Piper PA28 Warrior equipped with a Garmin-500. I must admit this is a very nice VFR and IFR flight phase. Each phase lasts for about one month. During the last month, all trainees are flying for the very first time a Piper PA44 Seminole, which is a multi-engine aircraft. A trainee executes his or her first IFR Flight, which is a memorial moment.
All trainees return to Switzerland in order to fly into the European sky onboard of an amazing Diamond DA42 Twin Star equipped with a Garmin-1000 and an Autopilot. One must note that the Central European weather is quite different compared to Florida’s weather. In my own opinion, P5 is certainly the best block.
Flying is fun experience but there is also more theory such as ATPL that needs to be covered. There will be lots of studying hours ahead, the new subjects are very interesting to learn. At the end, all students are contacted by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) in order to achieve the ATPL theoretical examination.
– Basic MCC:
Once the theoretical ATPL exam is completed and if a trainee is enrolled in a MPL course, he or she will attend the very last practical block. This is primarily a MCC introduction course onboard of a Beech 200 King Air simulator. Please, note that all flights will be executed as a pilot or as co-pilot. The B200 is quite different compared to all the other aircrafts or simulators previously flown by students because it has a pressurized cabin, allowing flying up to 31’000 ft. Other features are a twin turboprop engine of 850 SHP each.
At this point, each trainee obtains his or her final qualification, which is delivered by the Training Supervisor. Now, all students must await the final decision of Swiss International Airlines for further employment opportunities.
Bad weather Approach
What are the following steps of your flight training?
At the end of April 2014, I successfully passed the ATPL theoretical exam. Now, the following step is the Basic MCC training onboard of a Beech 200 King Air simulator until next July.
Do you have a job guarantee after completing your training? How does it work?
Not really. In fact, the training itself is a selection on itself. It might happen if Swiss Aviation Training concludes that a trainee is not fulfilling all their final requirements. In that particular case, a trainee might not complete his or her training and will not be incorporated within Swiss International Airlines. However, If a student encounters some troubles during his or her training, Swiss Aviation Training will help him or her to their best abilities. No one abandons the training process without any valid reasons and/or preliminary warnings! This procedure tends to happen on very rare occasions.
Kennedy Space Center
Until now, what is your best memory from your pilot training?
It was when I succeed all the ATPL exams. So far, I have been really enjoying all my trainings. In addition, I have really liked the block and my staying in Florida. It was just wonderful! However, I think I liked the P5 in Europe overall because flying across Europe is radically different than flying across the United States. We experienced a lot of fog, so we had to depart with the company weather minima’s including take-off alternatives. Therefore, we had to select two alternate destinations. The DA42 is weight-sensitive, and we had to calculate very precisely the fuel consumption and as well as refueling. I must say this was a very instructive exercise because we had to use the autopilot mode for the very first time.
After your training is over and if you get the job, for how many years are you “required” to stay within the company?
First of all, I do recommend to visit the following website:
Students are not required to stay within the company. If a student is “Vorfinaziert”, he or she must finance at least CHF 115’000. As a pilot working for Swiss International Airlines a total of 40’000 can be deducted. If a pilot works for more than three years in this case, only 75’000 will need to be reimbursed to the company.
Nowadays, Swiss Aviation Training is recognized by Switzerland as a College of higher education. This enables each student fulfilling some requirements to obtain subsidies from State. The entire amount will be paid to the trainee as a quite comfortable debt reduction.
In addition, please note that Swiss International Airlines is an excellent company, and as a trainee I would prefer working for the company that has trained me, rather than low-cost airline company.
Florida’s typical Thunderstorm
What would you recommend to anyone wanting to apply for the Swiss Cadet Pilot program?
This person should enjoy flying, enjoy teamwork and must be learning German. If he or she believes its place belongs within the “SwIss”, go for it! For further information regarding the selection training process of Swiss Aviation, I would suggest to visit Pilote Suisse, a website I created: www.pilotesuisse.ch
On behalf of the Pilotman.net team, we wish you a successful career and good luck for the rest of your training.
I would like to thank everyone. Please, keep up the good work!
Swiss A320 from the Jumpseat
Credit: YOUTUBE and COLIN CUTLER