March 26, 2023

Air France has relaunched its cadet pilot program and it’s a pretty straightforward deal for those who make the cut and the subsequent cuts. After what the airline calls a “rigorous selection process,” prospective candidates are offered an intense two-year training program that will end with them in the right seat of an Air France A320 or Transavia Boeing 737. There are periodic performance reviews. Air France pays the whole bill, but candidates must agree to fly for the company for a period of time and must have a university degree to qualify.
Like most airlines, Air France is trying to attract underrepresented groups to the job. It noted that while only 9 percent of its pilots are women, 13 percent of the candidates in the first cadet intake in 2019 were female. “The cadet programme encourages women to access technical professions and illustrates Air France’s commitment to equal employment opportunities.” Applications are being taken here from Oct. 15 to Nov. 22. The cadet program was launched in 2019 but suspended by the pandemic. Air France is also hiring experienced pilots.
I understand the need but see longer run issues. Pilots going through the normal system are exposed to a lot of variability and information about the state of the sector before they seek out jobs in the big carriers. They have a breadth of experience it would be hard to replicate in a program like this. Especially if bean counters are running the show instead of pilots. And any cultural safety issues seem more likely to be perpetuated.
Ho hum, they do not say if it will be an in-house training school or farmed out. Most Air France pilots come from the state civil aviation pilot school, maybe it is a special class in there — usually there are around 40 places a year for 2,000 candidates.
Lets hope they do better than the Air France trained team who were on the A447 where the young pilot panicked and held the stick full back in the stall till it was too late… He came through Air France ranks from the start, I seem to remember.
Nice program, but I dream of a day when we stop separating people into boxes by their surface appearance.
And I dream of a day when a career like this is truly accessible to all with the interest and capacity. Cheers to programs like this that help to bridge that gap.
It IS accessible and IS open to everyone.
All it takes is an INDIVIDUAL is to want it.
There is no “gap” because it’s open to all.
While Lufthansa also has an outstanding AB Intio training program, some say equivalent to a military training, it’s still that.
Just training.
There’s something to be said about the time consuming traditional “working your way up the ladder” while you work and pay for it. Flying your way up the sh!ty and the gritty eliminates those that don’t have the fortitude to put up with blowing a jug in a light single, runaway prop on a light twin, arguing with a management stooge over weight, routes, fuel loads, crappy weather, unexpected ice, difficult crew members and passengers in small planes, etc …
It seems ordinary life events also naturally weed out those that don’t have the perserverence and emotional stability to overcome all the life issues that coincide (illness, divorce, grief, financial instability, losing a job, sex re-assignment, gender choice etc …) with the pursuit of this career, not exclusive to this career of course.
On a good day this is the best job to get and the hardest to keep.
Who’s to say Lubitz of Germanwings infamy might have called it a day, and dropped the “dream” had he not had the “go to the head of the line” benefit of Ab Initio?
Unfortunately, there is no perfect way to train pilots for the airlines. The “traditional” way sounds romantic, but it has so many variables that it is basically a random process. A structured Ab Initio pathway should have better results if the proper people are in charge of the curriculum and can weed out underperforming students without regard to such sensitive issues as sex or ethnic background. It also depends on how the individual learns. Some people learn by doing, others by reading instruction manuals. Unless the program has the flexibility to accommodate those differences, the structured program will produce a bunch of well trained robots, rather than well-rounded pilots.
Couldn’t agree more John that it’s our job to teach the way they learn. Sex and ethnic background have always been easy fodder for cheap jokes so I apologize if I came off that way as sexist, racist, or misogynistic.
Although in 1988, CFI Miss (ex) Indiana asked me for refresher spin training, and I can still smell the shampoo of that blonde hair flying around the cockpit. CFI’s don’t get many days like that.
I guess you take the good days with the rest or them.
I could not find out where this training would be. Is it in America or oversees?
Nope, like a doctor trained as an EMT.


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