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 Post subject: Pilot slot criteria
PostPosted: 06 Apr 2012, 13:37 
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Joined: 03 Feb 2009, 21:58
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Hi guys,

I am a graduate student and am looking to join the SAAF as a pilot, but I was wondering if black students are given preference over white students in terms of pilot slots available to them. I know that this is a very sensitive question and I apologize if I have offended anyone as this was definitely not my intention.


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 Post subject: Re: Pilot slot criteria
PostPosted: 06 Apr 2012, 20:03 
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Once applicants have passed the really tough selection process I don't really see how there would be much room for affirmative action. There are however stories/rumours (of indeterminate credibility) that the ab-initio training contractor has come under pressure to "graduate" more black students.


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 Post subject: Re: Pilot slot criteria
PostPosted: 07 Apr 2012, 19:46 
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Good stuff, at least I got that out of the way without too much drama. :oops: Glad the rumours aren't true! I have a few more questions though that I hope can be answered.

1) How many hours do the (a) heavy, (b) fast jet, and (c) chopper pilots get on average per month or year? Again going from rumours heard about 3 years ago, I got the impression that flight hours weren't great for the FJ and rotary guys (not too sure about the heavies though).

2) I'm kind of scared about the 13 years sign on after training, as for a young person straight out of university that feels like most of your life gone right there. So I was wondering when we actually have to sign this "contract", and when is the latest date to call it quits without any repercussions (i.e. having to pay off the flight hours attained during training). Also, if we somehow don't make the cut for pilot standards and are dropped from the flight course, say, halfway through, do they just let you go or do you have to work doing some other job for the SAAF?

3) This last question I'm sure is confidential, but maybe someone has an estimate that they could give. Approximately how many pilots are needed in each of the heavy, fast jet and chopper classes currently?

I know this sounds like I'm worrying too much about things, especially with respect to question 2, but I just want to know completely what I'm getting myself into before I decide to sign up.


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 Post subject: Re: Pilot slot criteria
PostPosted: 07 Apr 2012, 22:08 
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I never said the rumours are definitely not true [-X I said "indeterminate credibility" - I really don't know.
Let's hope someone with direct knowlege joins this topic soon.

Re your question 2: If you want to join the SAAF just to get a pilots licence you don't have to pay for - don't do it!
Military aviation is only for those that really want to do it as their career, you need 100% committment or else don't even try getting in.


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 Post subject: Re: Pilot slot criteria
PostPosted: 08 Apr 2012, 11:04 
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Joined: 03 Feb 2009, 21:58
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I don't want to join the SAAF for a free pilots license. I want to join the SAAF so I can hopefully fly for the air force for the rest of my life. The reason I asked question 2 is because I worked hard at uni and graduated with good marks, and because of that doors were opened (I'm currently doing honours so I still have a few months left before I hit "the real world"). When I was 18 all I could think about was flying and didn't think about any of the other things that go with being part of the SAAF, namely the pay. I still want to fly and would love to make it my life, but I also don't want to have to worry about money at the end of each month (which isn't fun when raising a family). I'm torn between the prospect of having an exciting life in the SAAF versus living a potentially boring life, but not having to worry about income. As such I just wanted to know that, should I decide that a life in the SAAF isn't for me (which I believe can only be decided once you have a few years of experience to truly know), then would I still be bound to years of service or would they understand my decision.

I'm sorry, but the choice I make will essentially decide what path I'll take in life and that isn't something that can be made easily.


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 Post subject: Re: Pilot slot criteria
PostPosted: 08 Apr 2012, 11:39 
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Where are the guys with first hand info? Come on people help a guy out here!

It's pretty much axiomatic that airlines pay better than the SAAF but on the other hand airline flying can be really boring for some people, also the time spent away from home and family as an airline pilot is a factor to consider. In the SAAF you'll be sleeping in your own bed most nights, so it's probably better for family life in that respect.

As far as finances are concerned you need to consider the "fringe benefits" that the SAAF offers (cheap housing, unbeatable medical, a family friendly social life, etc.) and the job security - the airline industry is highly volatile and layoffs are a frequent occurrence.

What is your degree? A relevant degree can be a big factor in your application to the SAAF. On non-flying days pilots do other jobs so a qualification in something relevant - which can be anything from IT to finance to engineering - can be very handy.


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 Post subject: Re: Pilot slot criteria
PostPosted: 08 Apr 2012, 12:04 
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Joined: 09 Feb 2008, 16:47
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Location: Somerset West, South Africa
Alexrey wrote:
I don't want to join the SAAF for a free pilots license. I want to join the SAAF so I can hopefully fly for the air force for the rest of my life. The reason I asked question 2 is because I worked hard at uni and graduated with good marks, and because of that doors were opened (I'm currently doing honours so I still have a few months left before I hit "the real world"). When I was 18 all I could think about was flying and didn't think about any of the other things that go with being part of the SAAF, namely the pay. I still want to fly and would love to make it my life, but I also don't want to have to worry about money at the end of each month (which isn't fun when raising a family). I'm torn between the prospect of having an exciting life in the SAAF versus living a potentially boring life, but not having to worry about income. As such I just wanted to know that, should I decide that a life in the SAAF isn't for me (which I believe can only be decided once you have a few years of experience to truly know), then would I still be bound to years of service or would they understand my decision.

I'm sorry, but the choice I make will essentially decide what path I'll take in life and that isn't something that can be made easily.


I think a number of people will say that trying to find your feet in an aviation career while trying to start/support a family won't be easy. In the SAAF, you go where they want you to go. Same with an airline. It can become tough and puts a lot of strain on the family (I'm the daughter of a corporate and airline pilot, I know).

I don't know what the SAAF pays, but I think they try to look after their people (or at least they used to). The amount of money you have at the end of the month will also depend on how well you manage your money.

I'm also curious to know what you're studying at university. Who knows; get a "boring" job, earn big bucks, and fund your PPL. I know a number of people in the IT industry that have done that, and now they own a variety of aircraft, and seem to be having a ball.

Ask questions. There's no such thing as over-thinking or worrying too much about a decision like this; the decisions you make now could determine how you live the rest of your life.

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 Post subject: Re: Pilot slot criteria
PostPosted: 08 Apr 2012, 14:53 
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I'll just chime in on the contract aspect.

I'm open to correction, but should you be chosen for pilot traning, then you sign a 3 +13 year contract. The intial period is for three years that covers your officer forming, ground and air phases up to obtaining your wings. If you fail to obtain your wings within the allocated period and you do not want to transfer to another mustering if given that option, then you're out. If you obtain your wings, then the additional 13 year period automatically kicks in and you are held to that period. You can, of course, purchase your way out, but it will costs a few million, particularly in the first decade of your contract period.


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 Post subject: Re: Pilot slot criteria
PostPosted: 09 Apr 2012, 12:03 
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I graduated with a degree in mathematics and geography, which funnily enough, I only decided to take in order to have a better CV when applying to the air force. Currently I'm doing my honours in maths and if I do well again this year that could mean a lot for my future.

I know that beggars can't be choosers, but if I specifically say that I want to fly a fixed wing aircraft, will they take that into strong consideration (I know you write your preferences down on paper but how important is that to the guys allocating were we go?), and upon wings graduation do you find out which airframe you'll be flying in your career before or after you receive your wings?

From the SAAF wiki page (I know, I shouldn't really trust wiki too much) it reads: "The SAAF does suffer from a severe shortage of pilots and technical personnel. The impact of this is that the combat force is in effect smaller than it appears on paper. There are currently 60 posts for combat pilots, of which only 34 are filled. Other numbers include: Helicopter Pilots; 167 with 58 vacant posts; Transport Pilots 156 with 48 vacant posts; and the SAAF also has currently 12 vip and 7 maritime pilots. Of the 1630 posts for technical support crew, only 763 are filled. Engineers are down too from 122 posts with only 52 filled."

But how did they calculate those figures? With "60 posts for combat pilots" and only 22 Gripens (albeit 9 Gripen D), does this imply that multiple aircrew are assigned to a single jet, or are Hawks and PC-7s also counted in this number? The same question goes for transport pilots; with 42 transports counted in the inventory and, say, 2 pilots per transport, that would mean 84 pilots needed to fill the ranks, or do we again recruit more pilots than planes? With maintenance taken into account meaning not all planes are operational at once, this seems to show that we have a lot more pilots than flyable planes but I'm guessing that this is in case of a wartime situation where more pilots may be needed in order to maintain combat effectiveness?


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 Post subject: Re: Pilot slot criteria
PostPosted: 09 Apr 2012, 12:56 
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Two or three people per seat is pretty much what any air force needs to be able to guarantee 24/7 availability. I can't imagine you expect to be on duty 24/7. #-o

I'm not sure what proportion of planes in a squadron will be ready to fly at any given moment.
AIUI Gripens claim to have one of the lowest maintenance downtime rates of modern fighters. I have no idea what the rate is for the Hawks or transports and helicopters.

Mathematics and Geography - could be very useful for an intelligence officer.
Although "higher level" intel work is not done in the squadrons each unit does have an intel department - even if it's just a couple of people trained in basic photo analysis.

(BTW I've just slapped an "unsourced" tag on the section of the Wikipedia article you quoted. The writer also failed to define "currently" so I tagged it too.)


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 Post subject: Re: Pilot slot criteria
PostPosted: 11 Apr 2012, 14:54 
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I was just looking around the SAAF website and found this link: http://www.saairforce.co.za/news-and-ev ... al-figures. Looks like those figures were straight from the DoD.


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 Post subject: Re: Pilot slot criteria
PostPosted: 11 Apr 2012, 15:53 
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Good find Alexrey! =D>
The report is dated August 2009, I wonder what the position is now?


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 Post subject: Re: Pilot slot criteria
PostPosted: 15 Apr 2012, 17:33 
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Joined: 05 Aug 2005, 23:18
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Don't hesitate to join, the flying is unique,the pay is good and job security is unlike any other flying job or any occupation for that matter

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 Post subject: Re: Pilot slot criteria
PostPosted: 16 Apr 2012, 13:58 
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Joined: 18 Mar 2012, 13:01
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Location: Auckland Park
I wasted five years of my life in university thinking maybe ill change my mind on civil life, then i worked for jd group as a student graduate. Get this before 10 in the morning first day i wanted to fly out of the window.

Apply you will decide after the interview, i sent in mine yesterday at the rand show. Pls rememba this is something you dont have too much time to consider, soon youll be 27 and mad your whole life for not applying at least. Good luck. I apologise if anyone is offended!


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 Post subject: Re: Pilot slot criteria
PostPosted: 16 Apr 2012, 14:00 
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Joined: 18 Mar 2012, 13:01
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Location: Auckland Park
If one loves the SAAF, then they should be honored by flying alone the pay should be your bonus, lol lol.


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