Cadet Program: The Shortest Way to an Airline’s Cockpit


Why taking a circuit if you can go straight to where you want to be? The question is somewhat rhetorical, especially that what seems the shortest path to some people might not seem the same to others. Nevertheless, some rationale makes thousands of future pilots all over the world prefer cadet programs to, for example, ATPL Integrated or CPL modular. What is so enticing about a cadet program? Can it save you time? Money? Or maybe nerves? Please continue reading to figure it out.

What is a cadet program?

A cadet program is an initial training program designed to meet specific airline’s needs and collaboratively developed by an airline and a training school. Aiming to satisfy its demand for highly-trained and strongly motivated pilots, an airline entrusts a training facility with helping its cadets acquire the theoretical and hands-on flying experience necessary to join that airline’s staff ranks.

Hence, the training school undertakes a commitment to adhere to the carrier’s particular requirements and guidelines while delivering the training. In other words, the training center starts preparing a cadet for their future work at a specific airline since day one of their studies.

Please note that cadet programs are designed for individuals with no previous flying experience and are part of “Ab Initio” training, which translates as “from the beginning.” This stage smoothly transitions into a binding Type Rating course necessary to acquire a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL). After completing a cadet program, one can find themselves as the First Officer in the cockpit of the desired airline.

How to get enrolled in a cadet program?

In BAA Training, the process for a future aviator usually looks as follows:

  1. A candidate applies for the preferred cadet program.
  2. The academy performs document screening.
  3. The candidate performs a series of assessments (including personality assessment, an aptitude test, measuring control, slalom, memory, math, orientation and task management, an English level test).
  4. A structural interview at the academy is conducted.
  5. If the candidate is suitable, they are presented to the airline and interviewed/assessed once more.
  6. The last talk and/or evaluation with the airline is organized.
  7. The airline decides whether to give a Letter of undertaking or not.

What is attractive about a cadet program?

The seven-step list “does not qualify” for “the shortest way to the cockpit,” you would say. But! By enrolling in a cadet program, not only do you choose purposeful studies and, consequently, more fruitful results, but also a conditional job guarantee nicely packed into a Letter of undertaking.

An airline’s “Letter of undertaking” to a successful candidate is very much like a “Conditional offer” from a university to someone who has convinced the committee of their potential by just writing a motivational letter. Same as a prospective university student finds the conditions they have to comply with (e.g., high grades for IELTS or TOEFL English language exam) in a Conditional offer, a student pilot familiarizes themselves with their obligations. If a pilot achieves predetermined scores at the exams, they will eventually get employed by the airline.

Now imagine an aspiring student settles to pursue their career “their way.” Then they would need to set the millstones by themselves. The list could appear to be twice as long as the cadet program offers. There would not be an “all-inclusive” pack, but separate steps, instead. Selecting the Type Rating – the benchmark allowing them to operate a certain type of aircraft – would likely give them the worst headache.

Let’s draw a parallel. You do not typically purchase a car without knowing where you will exploit it. If you frequently go on road trips, you would most likely eye a sporty and roomy vehicle, whereas you would want a compact and efficient city car for driving in busy city streets. The same is with choosing a Type Rating – you have to be sure about the ultimate goal.

How do you know if you should go for Airbus A320, Boeing 737 NG, or Embraer 135/145 if you cannot predict which airline will have a vacancy for you in the end?

Why choose a SmarLynx cadet program?

A Latvian SmartLynx Airlines is not a regular carrier – it is a European charter and largest ACMI (Aircraft-Crew-Maintenance-Insurance) operator on Airbus A320 family aircraft – the airliner that bet Boeing 737 by orders in deliveries in 2019. In addition to the aforementioned Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) and a job guarantee to dutiful students, SmarLynx also offers dynamics for the working environment.

Working for SmarLynx means taking to flying in various conditions and markets like a duck to water. The nature of an ACMI is similar to a car rental business. Since an ACMI leases an aircraft, a complete crew, the aircraft’s maintenance, and insurance to many clients worldwide, its pilots get to work with multiple

airlines instead of being tied to only one. Switching between Jetstar Pacific, EasyJet, Norwegian, Travel Service, Tui Group, Vietjet Air, Blue Air, Monarch, Aigle Azur, Thomas Cook Airlines will never let you feel bored.

SmartLynx Airlines’ background speaks for itself:

  • almost 30 years in the market;
  • 21480 flights made in 2019;
  • 3.6 million passengers in 2019;
  • 260 destinations in 2019;
  • services include wet lease and full charter operations;
  • the fleet consists of 18 Airbus A320 and 6 Airbus A321 aircraft;
  • flight crew members represent more than 18 nationalities.

The airline does value people in the company and encourages diversity. Professional qualities, experience, and expertise are essential for winning the airline’s trust. However, personal qualities, such as a positive attitude and shared values, are also important.

Even though the severe Covid-19 pandemic has forced some prominent airlines to stop admission to cadet programs, SmartLynx is accepting new students through a SmarLynx cadet program at BAA Training. Use this exciting and currently rare opportunity to have your CPL by 2023, just around the time when the industry hopefully gets back on its feet.

To summarize, a cadet program is indeed a shortcut to an airline, provided that you know which company’s culture resonates with your intentions best. Once you have set your “smart goal,” get to work and try to remember this Steve Martin’s advice when looking in the eyes of an airline’s interviewer: “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” One more thing – a “smart goal” deserves a “smart” airline, doesn’t it? What about “SmartLynx”?

Read more about SmartLynx cadet program

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