Questions regarding to flight schools - New to this forum

Hello everyone,

My name is Eugene, I am a year 11 student, and am preparing to study for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP). My plan is to become an airline pilot in Hong Kong, however, I was wondering if going to an aviation university is worth it or not. (I am a US citizen)

I have done some research related to this area. Currently, I find Embry Riddle quite interesting, and saw good reviews about it. My current plan is to complete a four year aviation (aeronautics) degree first, obtain a PPL and CPL license and eventually apply for a job in Hong Kong (perhaps enter Cathay as a cadet pilot). However, I am unsure whether the licenses are accepted outside of the United States as I have heard that conversions are required.

Moreover, my other plan is to complete a degree program and enter an airline directly as a cadet program, but it would be a lot harder to do so.

I am looking forward for some answers, thanks a lot! :slight_smile:



Welcome to the forums. I am actually a fellow International Baccalaureate student, I received my diploma in the year 2000. I will tell you that obtaining that diploma was far more difficult than getting my college degree.

As for portability of US licenses, generally speaking, US licenses will be accepted in Africa, Asia, and South America, whereas Europe will want to see a conversion (which is very costly). That being said, check with your desired country and airline for their own requirements.

While Asia is in need of pilots, they are looking for qualified people with a lot of hours. Don’t think that you will be able to just walk into a job over there without some serious flight time.

I have to ask, why is your plan to do a degree program? Have you thought of getting a degree in something else, then doing your flight training? Also, why do you perceive it to be much harder to work for a US based airline? I am simply trying to understand your thoughts better so I can provide better answers to you.


Hi Chris,

Thanks for your thorough reply. I understand that the diploma program is extremely stressful. I have recently chosen my DP subjects; Physics, Geography and Business as higher level, and English + Chinese language and literature and Math interpretation for standard level.

My entire family lives in Hong Kong and my primary goal is to apply Cathay’s Cadet Program. Although the company says “no flying experience is required,” I personally think it would increase the chances of getting accepted if you have some prior experience. (I will still consider other HK based airlines; HK Airlines, Cathay Dragon, HK Express etc. if possible)

Likewise, I think Hong Kong is more similar to Australia’s system, therefore a conversion may be needed. I once thought of obtaining a PPL and CPL license in Australia since it only takes three years to complete the bachelor degree. Unfortunately, I am not an Australian resident. Thus, there would be less financial support than the United States.

Nonetheless, further to your questions, my purpose for a bachelor degree in aviation is quite evident - I want to become an airline pilot! I think getting a degree in this area could allow my CV to look better when I apply for a job in an airline (HK based airlines are very competitive). Also, I have thought of getting a degree in another area, which is my other plan. I am considering getting an engineering degree either in HK or US, but I would like to apply for a commercial pilot job after the degree as Cathay Pacific will send local citizens to Australia for trainings. This path would definitely narrow down the tuition fee.

Not sure whether Embry Riddle is a good choice. I would like to obtain a PPL and CPL throughout the four years and then subsequently earn an ATPL license during the airline cadet program. Any thoughts?

Once again, thanks for your help and I look forward hearing from you. :slight_smile:

I train at the Daytona location and share the airspace with the ERAU students. I also got to talk to a couple of local DPEs that had experience with Riddle students and had a roommate that graduated from Riddle and then came to train at ATP.

That school provides a solid theoretical foundation on aeronautics. They spend 3-4 years teaching the same material that we learn at ATP through ground instruction and on our own. My former roommate was most definitely well educated but came to ATP to get his flight training because ERAU would cost him significantly more to do the same thing. How valuable that is to you personally is your choice and depends on how motivated you are to learn. If you study well, whether you get the material from a college professor or from a CFI is irrelevant in my eyes. That being said the program at ERAU is enormously expensive. Expect to spend close to $300k and full 4 years on your degree and ratings unless you obtain scholarships. I see absolutely no superior skill in airmanship from the Riddle students.

Interestingly enough, one of my roommates is a US citizen who grew up in HK, and is training at ATP Daytona. We also had a former classmate that was a UK citizen that just finished up his training in the international program that ATP discontinued and moved back to HK to fly for Cathay. So, at least based on those examples I know that the ATP route is doable. I suggest you continue to do your research, find out what other career fields interest you and can provide you with a good fall back option, and make a decision when the time comes.

Hi Sergey,

Thanks for sharing your experience.

The ATP option sounds interesting too, due to the less amount of tuition required. I was wondering whether the ATP route provide you a bachelor degree or not. Is that only for CPL and PPL licenses only, like an external course after your degree?

Most importantly, I will continue to research and find the most suitable path.

Thank you!!


Going to ATP does not provide a degree, you would still need to obtain one from a college. The advantage of going this route is that it can save a significant amount of time and money. I suggest that you take a look at the FAQ section as there is a lot of knowledge there that I think you could benefit from.



From talking to a few former Cathay pilots having your licenses really won’t help you much. Cathay’s cadet program prefers well educated and rounded applicants with min flight experience so they can train you from day 1. Riddle is a fine university but since Cathay doesn’t require an aviation degree I’d diversify and pick a field of study that’s also of interest to you as a back up. When you get close to graduation start applying and again if Cathay selects you they will train you and you’ll have saved a ton of money flight training. If not you can always then get trained, reapply with them and other carriers as well.

That’s what I would do.


Hello Adam,

I really appreciate your suggestions, along with examples. I indeed agree with point since Cathay does not require an aviation degree, whereby there’s no point wasting an enermous amount of money.

Currently, I think the best thing I could do is receive a bachelor degree in another faculty. Perhaps, something related like engineering. Hence, I could thereafter apply for Cathay near the end of year four - This should take approximately 52 weeks if you start from zero knowledge.

In case of getting rejected, I will be obtaining a PPL and CPL license in the United States and then reapply. I think if you hold a valid CPL, it should take less than 52 weeks for the training as you have prior knowledge.

Those routes sound a lot more reasonable in terms of the money needed for a job.

I have also heard that the interview process could take more than six months, so I may need to prepare myself with some work experience beforehand. Furthermore, the interview could be rather competitive. Consequently, I think it’s essential to seek for airline interview courses beforehand. Do you agree? Does ATP provide that service as well? Is passing the ICAO English test difficult?

I do apologize for a long message, but I am just a little worried about my future! As always, thank you so much for the taking your time to reply.


Morning Chris,

Sorry for an extremely late reply. I will continue to research and hope that I could end up with a good diploma result. Thanks



From what I understand the interview is VERY competitive and quite a bear. While they don’t expect you to have any flight experience they do want you to have VERY thorough knowledge base. I would do some Googling and check some of the forums that deal more with foreign carriers ( is a good one). There’s tons of info on what to study. ATP does not offer anything other than flight training but again a good Google search will help. When it comes to interview prep I personally am a fan of Cage Marshall Consulting ( I don’t know if they have experience with Cathay’s Cadet but I’d be very surprised if they didn’t. They literally wrote the book on airline interview prep and know many people who have used them and had success.

As for the ICAO English test it’s not difficult and if you speak anywhere as good as you write you’ll be fine.

While I understand your concern you’ve got ample time to prepare and if you continue as you are you should be successful.


Hi again Adam,

Thanks for the clear explanations. I’ll conduct more research for sure.

Happy new year!

Hi Adam,

Happy new year to you!

I was wondering whether it would be a good route if I study for either “Civil Engineering” or “Mechanic Engineering” at one of the Hong Kong Universities, and then apply for one of the local airline companies in Hong Kong. In case of getting rejected, I could possibly consider obtaining a PPL and CPL license at ATP or elsewhere.

Any thoughts?

Thank you so much!!


Honestly I couldn’t tell you what the local Hong Kong airlines prefer or desire but they certainly can. All the airlines are hungry for pilots right now. I’d contact their recruiting departments and ask them straight out what they like and what will make you a better candidate. Go straight to the source.