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Aviation course in SA: Kenyan student shares experience

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It’s a career of prestige and none sketches that picture fairer than the fact that there’re few recognized flight academies in Kenya e.g. Kenya School of Flying.

The general course in South Africa will put you back roughly 4 million if you chose to pay for it privately.

We got a current student under the KQ program to speak. But since she doesn’t want to offend the ‘authorities’ we will use her alias, Cindy.

Most people probably know someone who’s gone through the program yet no one really knows when it happens leading to the impression it’s an elitist club. So first of all, how often does the recruitment take place?

Cindy: It’s an open interview done 3-4 times a year. 8-15 people hack it. It’s very vigorous. Basically it’s KQ trying to hire new pilots considering the global shortage and their current expansion plan (Project Mawingu).

What does the application and eventual recruitment process entail?

It’s a 5-stage extremely rigorous interview. The tests are aptitude, psychometric, psychomotor, medicals and oral interview. If you don’t think you can hack it you probably can’t (sic). You have to be very dedicated to make it to the interview let alone pass it. It’s not biased or discriminative in any way and no one is given preferential treatment. One’s height should be between 5’6 and 6’4 and age 18-24.

Can someone who has already cleared his undergraduate still take part instead of having to defer studies mid way as most people do?

They allow graduates so long as you don’t exceed age limits. The course takes 14 to 19 months on average.  It’s very intense and you have to be on top of your game-all the
time. Most guys have deferred campus and plan to finish some day or start a degree one day.

Is there a specific undergraduate degree given preference, say Engineering or the sciences?

Having an undergraduate means naught in aviation; experience on the cockpit and safety records are what mostly get you promoted. A degree might be of value should you later want to get into management or administrative positions. It’s a gamble with your undergraduate education. I’ve seen guys kicked out for the smallest of things. You get discontinued if you don’t progress as expected or if you have discipline issues.
It’s a very tricky field to be in.

How is it studying in SA? How do Kenyans perform against international students and SA students?

Getting to South Africa is just the beginning. You can get kicked out any day if mess up or fail checks, this means you go back home and start all over from where you left campus. Kenyan students actually do fairly well. They do particularly well in the written exams. You tend to miss home though and have to adapt to the cultural differences.

Are people with corrective lenses (spectacles) less preferred?

Specs aren’t an issue but color blindness is, alongside lots of other medical conditions that CAA doesn’t allow. You should probably google them.

What are the career prospects?

They really don’t let you know how much you will earn after graduation but it’s lucrative with a starting salary already in the middle range. The course is prestigious and relatively short taking at most 2 years; but its greatest plus is it can easily be done as a second degree.

How many hours do trainee pilots need to clock before they get their license?

Flight hours vary and they vary widely depending on the privileged level and the aircraft’s class rating. For each class rating you must have obtained particular hours to be allowed to fly airplanes in that class, for students you first start with duals (i.e. with flight instructors).

Check KQ careers website for more information on the sponsorship program

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