A320/21 and A330 Senior First Officer
Most recent airline: Cathay Dragon, (Oct 2014 – Oct 2020)
Previous/Additional role/s: Transport Canada Civil Aviation Department / Programs Officer 2010 – 2011 & Student Intern 2009 - 2010
Uni degree? University of Western Ontario, Business Administration with Specialisation in Aviation Management
Other than English, do you speak any other languages? Cantonese & Mandarin
Airline training route: Integrated ATPL: Hong Kong CAD Cadet Pilot Program
ATOs attended: Flight Training Adelaide, Australia (2013 – 2014) and Diamond Flight Centre, London Ontario (2007-2008)
Why did you want to become a pilot?
A dream job for many and when I turned 18, I realised I can attain a business degree and get my pilot licenses on the side so it was a very enticing offer. To quote my Dragonair cadet interview back in 2012, the Chief Pilot asked me “why do I want to be a pilot?” and my answer was that I feel that a Captain conveys a sense of professionalism and assertiveness, they are able to present themselves in a concise and knowledgeable manner. I wish to have those qualities in myself therefore I want to become a pilot.
How did you fund your training?
Initial my family supported me and I took a $30,000 Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan to fund my degree and flight training. After I graduated I got on contract-works with Transport Canada and repaid my loan before departing for Hong Kong in pursuit to become a commercial pilot.
Was training a breeze or did you find it a challenge?
It was challenging at times. Especially in London Ontario where training flights will slow to crawl in the winter due to the lake effect snow. I remember waking up before sunrise to drive (fortunately had a car in university) to the airport and due to the limited amount of heaters and glycol in the hangar, I had to de-ice the DA20’s frosted wings with a few towels and the heat from my hands. The period before the cadet flight grading was also challenging as I have to use my soon-to-run-out savings to purchase air tickets to Clark in the Philippines to conduct flights in a C152 to refresh my memory on how to fly after 3 years of office work. I fell really sick during that 1-week period but had to persevere and push on to complete the flight package before I return to Hong Kong to head for Adelaide.
In Adelaide the 54-week program was also demanding but with the support of my course mates and very good instructors I graduated the cadet program smoothly.
What was most challenging?
The most challenging aspect of being a cadet pilot is the need to perform and learn materials in a relatively short amount of time. ie. learn the Airbus FCOM SOPs from preliminary cockpit inspection to engine start in one evening and be expected to perform the actions the next day in the sim. Training time is money for the airlines and if you are unable to meet the deadline and handle the steep learning curve then you will get cut.
In terms of being an airline pilot, the most challenging part I would say is to maintain the focus to learn and ask others how to do the job better. Once you are on the line and sitting in the cockpit, often it is very easy to breeze through the day and chat about current events, the latest sports scores or investment opportunities. However, it takes a disciplined pilot to open the flight bag and pull out his/her Ipad to read the FCTM and EQRH. Many line captains are willing to share their years of experience in the flight deck, and conversely there are also captains who are hands-off and will not chip in until safety or legality becomes a concern.
It’s a challenge not only for myself, but for First Officers in general to stay curious, to ask questions, and not to become arrogant in my operation. Just because I have 3,000 hours, does not mean I know everything there is about flying the Airbus.
i.e “When we follow the EQRH smoke procedure, why and what is the point of pushing the button at that time? What is the cause and effect?” à Critical-thinking ability, not only be able to action the QRH but understand why we need to do it.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Ability to learn and hone my skills as a pilot and the hand-flying portion of take offs and landings. I also enjoy inspiring younger people who want to become a pilot and answering any questions they may have about my profession.
What is most challenging about your job?
The Cathay Dragon bi-annual, 2-day Proficiency Checks and Line Checks are notorious for being particularly difficult. I do not have any other benchmarks since it is the only airline that I’ve worked for, but speaking to many other Captains from diverse flying backgrounds it is one of the most stringent and challenging checks in the industry. It was a challenge to prepare for the PCs and keeping the “ready for command assessment” tick box.
Which Pilot Competencies are of most interest to you and why?
Many pilot competencies interest me, if I have to single one out it may be Operation Manual knowledge because every other competencies depends upon a strong understanding of the aircraft that you are flying.
I was a mentee of the Dragonair Aviation Certificate Program in 2012 and completed the program with distinction. I received a letter of recommendation which I believe greatly helped me kick-start my flying career when I applied for the cadetship. Since returning to Hong Kong in 2014, I have kept in touch with mentors and mentees in the DACP program and mentored aspiring students in some capacity. Sometimes students or cabin crew will ask about how to apply and become a pilot, and I will be very happy to have coffee with them and discuss any questions that they may have.
I have been networking with tech recruiters in Canada and Hong Kong and made a switch into the tech industry while aviation recovers. I will be happy to assist in providing tips on how to create a strong resume and edit any materials as required.