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If you have ever dreamt of joining an airline as a pilot, then the South African Express Airways trainee cadet pilot training programme is the ideal place to start.
Designed and delivered by SA’s fastest-growing regional airline, with a focus on new trainees, the course provides an excellent foundation and introduction to the industry.
Nandi Mbele, 25, who is undertaking conversion training in Vienna, Austria, to fly the state-of-the-art DASH8 Q400, says the cadet programme has been invaluable and offered a unique opportunity for recruits to gain experience while networking with aircraft gurus.
How did you end up on an SA Express cadet training programme in Vienna, Austria?
I always had a passion for flying. When I heard about the SA Express cadet pilot programme and the training facilities the airline has developed, I knew I wanted to join and I worked hard to be admitted. I am proud to be a part of the pilot training community, particularly after I was sent to Vienna.
While the programme is rigorous and demanding, the fact is in the airline business safety is paramount and the training will ensure that I have the best training and become a fully fledged SA Express pilot.
How easy was it for you to get into the training programme?
There always has been a huge response to the SA Express Airways advertisements for cadet trainees. It’s not surprising because SA Express has established itself as one of the world’s leading airlines.
I received my basic aircraft theory and practical through the South African Air Force apprentice training programme.
Following a comprehensive selection process, I was sent to the 43 Air School in Port Alfred, where I did basic training of flying different kinds of aircraft.
What are minimum entry requirements?
The minimum entry age to become a pilot is 18.
Following a rigorous selection process, successful candidates are invited to attend presentations from senior members of the SA Express flight deck crew, as well as undertaking comprehensive skills and aptitude testing, plus security and medical checks.
A candidate may or may not have a commercial pilot licence, and must have passed Grade 12 maths and science and English, undergo an aviation medical assessment and have a genuine passion for aviation.
Successful candidates start at an air school designated by SA Express for this purpose. In my case, I was based at the 43 Air School.
To complete the SA Express pilot programme, a cadet has to complete designated hours in the classroom, and also specified hours of flying experience in single- and multi-engine aircraft as well as many hours in the state-of-the-art simulators.
The cadet pilot programme has grown considerably since it was launched in 1998, and now boasts 23 trainees who are currently training to become fully qualified pilots with SA Express.
lFor more information, visit www.flyexpress.aero