A training contract between Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways and its US flight school partner is to continue, despite three serious incidents involving city trainees.

Tim Burns, Cathay Pacific’s general manager for flying, said on Tuesday the airline’s confidence in Arizona-based AeroGuard Flight Training Centre was unchanged and that there was no cause for concern about the cadets’ professional standards as there were several assessments made throughout their training course.

“They have amazing facilities for pilot training,” Burns said. “In Arizona, they assured us that the weather was good enough to do a lot of flying … so our confidence with the flying school has not changed.”

“And it would be a shame to just point to a couple of incidents which happened recently to say that the cadet programme, or even our relationship with AeroGuard, should come under scrutiny.”

Concerns were raised over the quality of Cathay’s cadet pilots after the flight school banned solo flights by city trainees after a string of major mistakes.

The airline said last week that it was taking the incidents seriously.

Jay Meade, the vice-president and head of training at AeroGuard Flight Training Centre, which has banned solo flights by Cathay Pacific cadet pilots after a string of accidents. Photo: Handout

Jay Meade, AeroGuard’s vice-president and head of training, told Cathay cadets in an email he had been forced to ground them pending an investigation after three incidents in as many weeks.

Meade said the incidents – a wingtip collision with a fixed object, a bounced landing which caused a substantial impact to the aircraft’s propeller and a plane which ran off a runway – were significant.

He added in his email that the pilots in command had decided to continue with their mission, but insisted they should have spoken to their duty flight instructor before they carried on.

The cadets were not “meeting expectations regarding training, guidance and direction, as related to the application of proper aeronautical decision making”, Meade said.

Burns emphasised there were stringent assessment checkpoints to ensure that only those who passed each stage would be allowed to continue to the next phase of training.

“We monitor the cadets as they go through and they don’t proceed to the next phase until they pass that,” Burns said. “So, in a sense, we’re constantly checking.

“We get feedback from the flying school.”

Burns added there would be no delays to the one-year cadet training programme as the suspension of solo flying involved a minor part of the course.

“The solo flying is just one small proportion so the students will continue on the rest of their training,” he explained.

“Some will have some of their solo flying delayed while Aeroguard ensures that the cadets are aware of how to report any incidents and that everyone follows the requirements of the flying school.

“Once that’s satisfied, then they will resume the solo flying so we’re not expecting any delays on the length of the course.”

The training Centre, one of the largest flight training academies in the US, signed a long-term agreement with Cathay in December 2022 as part of the airline’s plans to train several hundred new pilots a year.

The centre, which has more than 20 years of experience in the field, has trained in excess of 7,000 pilots from around the world.

AeroGuard added it would support Cathay in its efforts to work towards a global recovery of airline travel in the wake of the devastation wreaked by the pandemic.

It has worked with the airline on two training programmes – one for those joining the airline with no previous flight experience and another for pilots who need to convert their flying licences to the Hong Kong standard.