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Cathay B747 Second Officer

Pilot's Blog

Pilot Details
Company Cathay Pacific
Based in Hong Kong
Age 31
Gender Male
Pilot's Blog


I have been with Cathay Pacific for 15 months now. I have been checked to the

line as a Second Officer for 6 months or so and have nothing but great things to

say for the job and for the company. For me working for Cathay Pacific is

working for the best airline in the world. Working as a second officer has

been a rewarding challenging position thus far and with the right mind set will

continue to be so. Cathay Pacific does not hire pilots to be second officers

they hire future captains, pilots who are devoted to continued learning and


Before comming to Cathay Pacific I was working on the west coast of Canada

flying freight initially in a Navajo and then in an MU-2. The initial years of

a pilots life seem with consistency to be years of turmoil and personal

sacrifice to make the move to a career airline. With no doubt those years are

worth the effort!!! I have wanted to work for Cathay Pacific since 1996 when my

commercial pilots licence was nearing completion. At that time I contacted the

company and remained in contact with them updating my profile until such time as

I was granted an interview, and now here I am. I am working for Cathay Pacific

Airways and am flying the Boeing 747-400. Many pilots do not refer to working

as a second officer (or relief pilot) as flying but the job is very real and it

is as challenging as you want to make it. After being hired with Cathay

Pacific we were flown to Adelaide in Autralia where at the BAE flight training

academy we were starting our careers with Cathay. We were there for a month

conducting what is known as a "finess" course. We did a quick type rating in a

Beech Duchess for the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department and then moved into a

modified 737 simulator where we were introduced to Cathay Pacific procedures and

standard opperations. During our 7 simulator sessions we were also conducting

classes in aviation subjects for the exams that would be required by the HKCAD

for converting our licences. I held an ATPL in Canada and was required to write

9 conversion exams when returning to Hong Kong. That represented our first week

in Hong Kong. After passing the exams we started our introductory courses with

Cathay Pacific. Generally a couple of days of tours around Cathay Pacific City

and then into the ground school. Our ground school was no different from the

Captains or First Officers in fact many are on course with you. The ground

school is primarily done through CBT (computer based training) where you make

your schedule around the outline and are responsible for two exams a week for

three weeks. During this time we also did a number of fixed based sim sessions

with technicians who would work to solidify what we were learning in the CBT.

During this time we also had a number of FMC simulator sessions to practice

using the Flight Management Computer and the Autopilot Flight Director System.

After this section of training was completed we began our full motion sim

training which consisted of 6 sessions and 3 flight tests. Once completed we

were given an observation flight and then had 9sectors of line training. These

were actual line flights that were done with training captains and would

include many different elements of line flight and company procedures. The 10th

sector was the "line check", five trips in total. Each trip was separated by a

minimum of 5 days off and would have one sim session before the actual line

check. Now that I am checked to the line I fly a regular schedule of roughly

three trips a month and maybe a block of reserve which is 5 or so days of time

"on call". We have sim sessions every month or two that are geared towards

continuing the training schedule that we left off with after our initial

sessions of sim training.

Cathay Pacific is a wonderful company to work for and the life of an airline

pilot has been relatively everything I expected. In the last six months I have

flown around the world to many destinations, London, Frankfurt, Paris,

Johanesburg, Vancouver, LA, and Sydney to list a few.

We operate a four pilot

crew to most destinations in the 744 except Australia. This means that the four

of us are like two crews and hence we split the time. After top of climb or as

specified by the organization of the crew I will hop in the seat and do 5-8 hrs.

Cathay Pacific is the pioneer of Ultra Long Haul flying and our Hong Kong to LA

flight is the longest operating sector currently in the world. My longest

flight has been 15hrs and 45min. LAX-HKG. The life of an S/O at Cathay Pacific

is one of learning. For myself I am coming from flying an airplane that weighs

in at below 12500lbs to flying an airplane that has engines that weigh more than

that. Flying is flying and the experience that you gain in the very beging of

your career can be some of the best but there is a definite level of difference

that takes time to adjust to and having the center seat on take off and on

landing offers a great deal of learning potential...not to mention another set

of eyes working the cockpit.

Living in Hong Kong as been a wonderful opportunity to experience a different

culture and take a look at my own life...personal growth is a wonderful thing.

We have continued to maintain many of the things that we like to do. I have

enjoyed the access to computer and technology items here in Hong Kong. My wife

and I traveled to Macau to furnish our flat with some furniture. We have

enjoyed meeting new people and experiencing the world from different eyes so to

speak. I continue to keep in contact with hockey and the many sports that I

used to enjoy in Canada. There is a great ice hockey league here which I will

try to get into next year. For the mean time I enjoy playing roller hockey

twice a week when I am home in a fully equiped arena. My wife and I have been

doing some mountain biking, hiking and general touring. We are going to start

rock climbing and scuba diving is also on the schedule for the next few months.

Next month we are going to go to Thailand. I have managed to bring my wife to

LA and London so far and will take her next month with me to Paris. Most of our

layovers are only around 28 to 36 hrs but that is enough to play tourist for a


In my short time at Cathay Pacific I have had nothing but respect for all of the

crews that I have worked with. Everyone that I have crewed with have been

professional and team orientated. I can expect an upgrade in a couple of years

or perhaps somewhat sooner but when that comes I will be given the opportunity

to fly as a First Officer on an Airbus A330 or on the Boeing 777.

In short, I

love the company, I love the aircraft, I love the flying and most of all I love

the career.

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