Air Asia is running a promotion beginning with the words, "So YOU wanna be a pilot? Simple. What do you have to do? Blog. What? Thats it? Yes, you're reading it right. Blog." Woo! I'm doing it right!
In many countries, including the UK, it is normal for candidates with no flight experience whatsoever to be hired by an airline, trained from square one at that airline's expense and dropped into the right seat of a jet at two hundred odd hours. Students who pay for their own training are considered "self-sponsored," underlining the fat that someone else usually sponsors the process. During my flight training, I had an e-mail correspondence with a fellow student pilot in England. It went pretty much the same, with us debating the differences in radio technique ("what? you're allowed to say 'takeoff' on the radio?") and airspace ("Purple? Our airspace has letters, not colours!") When we both finished, he started flying a B737 and I got a job flying traffic watch in a C172. I'm afraid we kind of lost touch after that.
Usually the selection process for the coveted training spots involves personal interviews, aptitude tests and so on. I'm not sure how they normally choose the people they call to interviews. I imagine a lot of it is the same as me competing with thousands of pilots who meet the minimum standards of Canadian airlines: timing, luck and who you know.
So why not allow ten people whose daddies don't have the right friends to compete with those whose do? As the competition states, "The 10 winners are entitled to be the first to attend the first round of selection for AirAsia's new pilot intake." These folks aren't skipping the interview phase at all. They're just getting an interview. They could winnow resumes based on school marks, but after a certain level you're getting nerdier, not more suited for aviation. Really if you're going to hire someone and train them to fly an airplane, why not select the part of the candidate pool on the basis of spelling, grammar, composition and the knowledge and maturity necessary to write a good blog entry.
The person who pointed me at this thought it was poor publicity for Air Asia, but I don't see that. In my opinion, a passenger delving deeply enough into the workings of his airline to be reading their blog is beyond believing the pilot façade and might be interested to see a bit of the real people who strive to get interviews and make the decisions. Of course I'm biased, but I think you can read a wannabe airline pilot's blog without worrying about the quality of fully-trained pilots.
I'd enter the competition, but I don't have time to learn good Bahasa Malaysian before the competition closes.