Categories: AirlineCAAS

Failed the SIA Cadet Interview? Your dream is not dead


Singapore Airlines is the only Airline in Singapore that sponsors the SGD$200,000 cost of training a pilot through its SIA Cadet Programme. However, the competition for SIA’s Cadet Pilot selection is exceptionally fierce. There are just too many applications for too few slots (who’s hiring?). Unless you have an extremely impressive CV, you stand a slim chance of getting selected as an SIA cadet. 

That is not to say you shouldn’t at least put your application on their website. You’ll never know, and you might just get through!

Even if you do not meet their minimum requirements, or if you failed to get through the selection, your dream of becoming an Airline Pilot in Singapore is not dead. Here are some of the viable options for you!

Scoot or Jetstar Asia’s Cadet Programme

Scoot and Jetstar Asia run their own cadet programmes. The most significant difference between SIA’s cadet programme and these programmes is that these programmes are Self-Sponsored Cadet Programmes. Training will cost you SGD$150,000. The advantage in getting your licence through these cadet programmes, as opposed to getting a licence on your own, is that you more or less secured a job after graduation, thereby reducing the risk of being jobless after getting your licence. 

There is a lot of competition for these self-sponsored programmes though. If you’re unable to secure a place in any of these self-sponsored cadet programmes, you could consider getting a licence on your own. For an updated status of which cadet programmes are open for application, visit our hiring status page.


A CAAS CPL is a Commercial Pilot Licence issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, and it is the minimum requirement for any individual to be considered for positions as an Airline Pilot in Singapore. Getting the CAAS CPL will cost about SGD$150,000 and training will take about 1 year.

If you can’t raise the SGD$150,000 required for training, you could take a loan from a bank or from family members. If you do not want to get into debt or do not have family members that are able to lend, you could consider working and saving up the course fees yourself.

The most significant difference between going for a self-sponsored cadet programme and getting your own licence is that you don’t have a job ready for you upon graduation.  

If you’re unable to raise SGD$150,000 for your licence, the cheaper FAA CPL is another option to consider. 



The FAA CPL is the USA’s equivalent Commercial Pilot Licence. While an FAA CPL licence holder is technically not allowed to work for an Airline in Singapore, there are steps the licence holder can take to convert the FAA CPL to a CAAS CPL. Airlines in Singapore will consider an FAA CPL holder for positions as an Airline Pilot in Singapore. 

Getting an FAA CPL is comparatively cheaper. It will cost about SGD $100,000 and can take as short as 3 months. While relatively less expensive, SGD$100,000 is still a substantial amount. Not everyone can afford to invest SGD$100,000. And if you can’t, you could consider joining the RSAF as a Pilot Trainee.

Joining the RSAF as a Pilot Trainee

The RSAF has more than enough pilot trainee candidates to choose from, so getting selected as an RSAF Pilot Trainee is going to difficult. While the RSAF doesn’t help their pilots attain a civilian Commercial Pilot certification, through your career in the RSAF, you should meet the FAA requirements for an FAA CPL or an FAA ATPL. Once you have all the prerequisites, getting an FAA licence with these requirements will only cost SGD$25,000. 

The RSAF training bond is long though. You’ll be bonded to the RSAF for 10 years after getting your wings. You will need to commit to an RSAF career to at least 31 years old. The good thing is, you’ll be working in a job that pays exceptionally well. Maybe you might decide to stay on in the RSAF till retirement! Here’s the step by step guide for RSAF Fighter & Transport Pilots, and the guide for Helicopter Pilots.

If you are unable to get selected as an RSAF Pilot Trainee, you could consider a career as an RSAF WSO(Fighter)!

Joining the RSAF as a WSO(Fighter)

The RSAF Weapons System Officer (Fighter) assists the Pilot in missions by operating the controls of the aircraft from the back seat in a 2 seater fighter such as the F-15SG. While getting a licence for a WSO(Fighter) is not as straightforward as for an RSAF Pilot, it is still possible. A WSO(Fighter) can get their FAA CPL, and have their hours recognised by CAAS for an FAA to CAAS CPL licence conversion later. Read about how a WSO(Fighter) can make the switch to the Airlines in Singapore.


The road to becoming an Airline Pilot can be a difficult one, especially if doors continuously get shut. If flying is your dream, do not give up. 

The options that have been highlighted in this article are just some of the possibilities that I know of. There could be others. Let me know through Facebook Messenger or through the comments below!

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Captain Ong

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  • Hi Captain Ong,

    Which FAA school (preferably with an associate's degree as well) would you recommend for completing from FAA PPL to FAA CFI? I have done quite a bit of research, and I can't seem to find a reputable flight school. Maybe with your experience, you would know better.

    Please advise, thank you.

    Yours sincerely,


    • Hi there, if you really want a degree with your licence, you can checkout Massey University's school of aviation. It will take 2-3 years to complete your studies.

      If you want to get a FAA CPL + CFI quick, you can go to any schools in USA. If you want a recommendation, feel free to contact me. These options take between 0.25 to 1 year.

  • Hi Captain Ong, what do you think about my prospects at Singapore based airlines as a Junior FO or FO as an FAA ATPL holder with 1600 Flight Hours (FAA PPL TO MEI) with most flight hours from Flight Instructing?

    I want to understand more before I commit to flight school. Is it necessary to get a BSc in Aeronautics (from Embry Riddle Asia) to be a pilot in Singapore? Also is Phoenix East Aviation a reputable or good school in your professional opinion?

    Thank you in advance for your kind advisement.

    PS. Do you think someone with those qualifications stand to work at STAA or similar institutions with a mediocre diploma unrelated to aviation?

    Yours sincerely,


    • Hi, a FAA ATPL holder with 1600 flight hours from Flight Instruction should stand better chance (compared to 200 hour CPL holders) in getting a job not only in Singapore but anywhere in the wold.

      Does Embry Riddle Asia 's BSc in Aeronautics come with a CPL?

      Phoenix East Aviation is a Part 141 FAA certified flight school, and I would say it's "reputable".

      Re your question about getting a job at STAA with a non related diploma, i'm assuming you want to find temp work at STAA just to get a feel of the aviation industry? If you get a job at companies like that, its most likey going to be filled in non aviation departments. like Operations or a corporate function.

      • Hi Captain Ong,

        Thanks for a prompt response. If getting a BSc is necessary, my current plan is to complete a BSc in Aeronautics (If necessary), then be licensed up to MEI.


        -Would you recommend a BSc in Aeronautics to be a pilot in SG?

        -Can I compete with an (R)ATPL of 1000hr-1500hr against Local Uni grads with similar or fewer qualifications in flight (CPL with 300-400 hours.)

        -If not, what would be chances be if I took a BSc in Aeronautics from Embry Riddle Asia?

        *Cadet Pilot*

        -If my diploma is unrelated to aviation, how can my Cadet Pilot application stand out? I have yet to serve NS if that provides context.

        -Would a Senior FO's recommendation help my case as a cadet officer?

        I truly appreciate your kind response.

        Yours sincerely,


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Captain Ong

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