BEIJING, Oct.17 -- Hundreds of high school students applied for the chance to become pilots over the weekend, but even the small number of successful applicants will have to wait several years before taking control of a commercial jet.
Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines were both surprised at the number of applicants who showed up to recruitment events over the weekend.
"Two hundred application forms were grabbed up within 45 minutes and we had to copy more for the applicants," said Li Honglin, a Shanghai Airlines official responsible for pilot recruitment.
"We had nearly 300 applicants a day at this site, while last year we had only 190 applicants," he added.
Moe than 500 students underwent health checks during a preliminary test at Shanghai Airlines' recruitment sites in Jing'an, Yangpu and Minhang districts. The recruitment will expand to other districts in the coming weeks.
The carrier said it plans to accept about 200 future pilots in Shanghai and Jiangsu Province this year, about the same number as previous years.
The airlines will subsidize successful applicants during their training over the next six years. To become a commercial pilot, applicants must first take a four-year course at an aviation college and then spend two years undergoing training with one of the airlines.
The training costs hundreds of thousands of yuan.
"I don't have much idea of what being a pilot involves, but I know they are paid well," said 17-year-old applicant Chen Xunzhi.
New commercial pilots can earn up to 10,000 yuan (1,250 U.S. dollars) a month.
Poor eyesight is a major barrier for many of the applicants and the main reason less than one-third passed the physical exam, said Li.
(Source: Shanghai Daily)