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View Full Version : Tianjin Airlines??


EuroMexPilot
11-14-2016, 06:23 PM
So I have read through the "working in China" thread and even downloaded the FUD and got a good way through it. To be honest though, it reads a bit like a woman-scorned. It's hard to take the writer seriously with all the name calling and the early reference to "[email protected]" on page 13.
So, I'm hoping to get some serious answers from people who are either currently contracted or recently contracted with Tianjin.
1. Hiring process. How many trips to China does one have to make for interview, medical, background, testing etc. Does the airline or the agency pay for these trips? (Hotel/airfare)
2. Training process. If you actually make it through step 1, how long and how difficult is the training process? What is the pay during training? Where is the training? Paid hotel and airfare?
3. Real life on the line. Is it as scary and dangerous as FUD makes it sound? I always take these things with a grain of salt since I don't see a pluthera of accident reports coming out of China. Do they allow other pilots to smoke in the flight deck? As CA could you not allow it?
4. Bases. They are currently advertising Haikou as a base option. Is this a legitimate base one could expect to hold? Google pictures make this look like a clean and beautiful place. Are they all photo shopped? What is the base bidding process? Can that be negotiated in the contract?
5. Pay. Is the pay as advertised? Is it easy to fly over 80 hours a month and make overtime?
6. Keeping the $$. How do you bring the money back stateside without incurring taxes? I read one poster transferring $140,000 with no issues.
Thank you for your answers and responses.


NEDude
11-14-2016, 10:51 PM
So I have read through the "working in China" thread and even downloaded the FUD and got a good way through it. To be honest though, it reads a bit like a woman-scorned. It's hard to take the writer seriously with all the name calling and the early reference to "[email protected]" on page 13.
So, I'm hoping to get some serious answers from people who are either currently contracted or recently contracted with Tianjin.
1. Hiring process. How many trips to China does one have to make for interview, medical, background, testing etc. Does the airline or the agency pay for these trips? (Hotel/airfare)
2. Training process. If you actually make it through step 1, how long and how difficult is the training process? What is the pay during training? Where is the training? Paid hotel and airfare?
3. Real life on the line. Is it as scary and dangerous as FUD makes it sound? I always take these things with a grain of salt since I don't see a pluthera of accident reports coming out of China. Do they allow other pilots to smoke in the flight deck? As CA could you not allow it?
4. Bases. They are currently advertising Haikou as a base option. Is this a legitimate base one could expect to hold? Google pictures make this look like a clean and beautiful place. Are they all photo shopped? What is the base bidding process? Can that be negotiated in the contract?
5. Pay. Is the pay as advertised? Is it easy to fly over 80 hours a month and make overtime?
6. Keeping the $$. How do you bring the money back stateside without incurring taxes? I read one poster transferring $140,000 with no issues.
Thank you for your answers and responses.

I interviewed with Tianjin a few years back, but they did not hire me due to the Beijing CAAC having issues with my LASIK. So I ended up at Sichuan for three years. So I can answer a little bit about the Tianjin process, at least how it was a few years ago.

First of all most of what I have read in FUD is true, you do see a lot of that stuff in China. May read like a woman scorned, but that does not mean it is not true.

So moving on to some answers-
1) My Tianjin process started with a sim eval in MCO. Trip was covered by Tianjin/agency. After the sim was successful, they arranged the trip to China. Hotel and airfare was covered for that as well. It began with a few days of study for the CAAC ATPL written exam. We stayed in Beijing and were given the equivalent of their Gleim book. They then flew us to Guangzhou to sit the exam. Again airfare and hotel was covered. After that it was a flight to Tianjin to begin the initial medical screening. After a day there we were sent on the high speed train back to Beijing to finish the medical screening with the CAAC. That is where I got canned, after they decided they did not like LASIK. But for the guys who continued with the process, they went home for a few months and then returned for their sim training, CAAC ATPL check ride and line training. So they only had one trip to China, paid by the company, before actually starting. The process with Sichuan was very similar with the exception of everything being done in Chengdu or very nearby.

2) Not specific to Tianjin, but most companies have a flat rate that they pay during the training period. Sichuan was $300 per day until line check was completed. Once the contract was signed, after the CAAC sim check ride, the company gave you two weeks to find an apartment. After that we got the $300 per day plus the monthly housing allowance until completion of the line check, when the regular salary kicked in.

3) The diet of the younger Chinese pilots consists of rice, noodles, and cigarettes. Yes, they do smoke, a lot. You can officially tell them not to smoke, but by the end of a flight they might be crawling up the walls due to needing their fix. What I did was allowed them to have one or two during the flight, when I would take a lavatory break. That seemed to make them pretty happy. Overall my experience in China was that the competence of the first officers ran a wide spectrum from very skilled to complete incompetence. Most were at least acceptable, but only know how to operate the aircraft in a very small range of operations. If the weather is not too bad, you are getting decent vectors for an ILS approach, etc. then most are just fine. But I have had guys panic over an RNAV or VOR approach. I have had some FOs that could not speak English to save their lives. The best way to put it is that most of the time things are just fine, but you do need to be on guard because you can, and do, occasionally see some stuff that makes you wonder how they are not crashing airplanes every day. And to be honest, there is a lot of safety related stuff that never is presented to the western public. They work very hard at trying to control information and many of the smaller incidents are never spoken of.

4) Never was based in Haikou, but had a lot of layovers. It is like most Chinese cities, although the air quality was a bit better from my experience. Honestly I think most Chinese cities look alike. You could get blindfolded and dropped in any of a number of cities and you would be hard pressed to identify which city you were in. The architecture and cleanliness are very much alike. Haikou did have a few western restaurants, but I am not sure how much of an expat community there is, or how much western food is available at the grocery stores. In addition to that, the other thing you may want to consider is how easy it is to reach your base from home, especially if you are doing a commuting contract. If you can get direct to Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong from your home city, then Haikou may not be too bad with just one stop. But if you have to a connect just to get to PEK, PVG, or HKG, then you are looking at a two stop trip to get to your base. I know a few guys who do have to make a couple of stops and it really kills them every time they go back home. It takes a few guys close to 36 hours to get home.

5) Again, not Tianjin specific, but in my experience and what guys who have flown with other airlines in China have said, pay is as advertised. Overtime tends to depend on the time of year. Summer months and February (Chinese new year) seem to be great months for getting over time.

6) You are not going to get away with not paying taxes of some sort. The U.S. and China do have a tax treaty, so when the airline pays Chinese taxes on your behalf, you will be credited for those taxes in the States (you will get a tax certificate each quarter that you then file with your U.S. taxes). When your credit for Chinese taxes is combined with the foreign earned income exemption (around $100,000USD, it varies each year), you will most likely end up owing little to nothing for income tax. But it will be very hard to get around the 15% social security tax as you no longer have an employer making contributions for you. Basically you will need to hire an experienced tax professional/accountant to help you figure out taxes and the best way to set things up (DO NOT IGNORE THIS ADVICE!!!) Also, do not try to think about hiding money. FATCA has made hiding money overseas virtually impossible and the consequences for being caught doing so are severe (huge fines and long prison sentences type of severe). Virtually every country has agreed to cooperate with the United States on FATCA, including China, so do not get fooled into thinking the IRS will never know how much you have in your Chinese account because the Chinese banks are ratting you out. I know a few guys who claim to be hiding money in China, but they are playing with fire. FATCA enforcement is new as of 2014, and I think China only signed the treaty last year, so even if guys have been successful in hiding money in China for a while, it is only a matter of time before they get caught. Anyway, get a good tax professional who has experience in dealing with expats and pilots, and do not try to think about hiding money overseas (Google FATCA to get a good understanding of the law and its consequences).

Hope that helps a bit even though it was not Tianjin specific.

EuroMexPilot
11-14-2016, 11:32 PM
Hope that helps a bit even though it was not Tianjin specific.

Yes! Thank you so much for taking the time to write all that.


Braniff DC8
11-17-2016, 06:13 AM
Euromex, You should honestly visit China via a Chinese Airline if you are serious about it. The agencies offer amazing deals for a reason. It's all a ruse. The culture is very different than most and a lot find it difficult to adapt. The contracts are worthless and get violated all the time. Find a place close to home and enjoy being home and not somewhere in an odd place like China. If you've never been, trust me, it's odd.

NEDude
11-17-2016, 07:28 AM
Euromex, You should honestly visit China via a Chinese Airline if you are serious about it. The agencies offer amazing deals for a reason. It's all a ruse. The culture is very different than most and a lot find it difficult to adapt. The contracts are worthless and get violated all the time. Find a place close to home and enjoy being home and not somewhere in an odd place like China. If you've never been, trust me, it's odd.

I will second that advice for the most part. I never experienced any contract violations in my three years, and was always paid as promised and on time. But I do know some guys who are always having issues, so I may have just been one of the lucky ones.

Typically when guys complain to the airline about the contract being violated, the airline response is something to the effect of - "your contract is between you and your agency, we have nothing to do with it. So if you have a problem you have to take it up with your agency." The agency has far more interest in keeping the airline happy than keeping you happy, so guess how far most complaints end up. As virtually all agencies are based overseas, lawsuits for contract violations will be virtually impossible as well. The last big U.S. based contract agency just moved to Hong Kong earlier this year.

China is very different. A small percentage of guys actually do like it over there. The vast majority view it as a necessary evil and tolerate it for 3-6 years because the money is so good. Some are miserable quite quickly. I know one guy who was clamouring to get out two months after he started because he hated it so much. Personally I never liked it. The pay and month on, month off, was great. But the month in China was quite awful and it quickly got to the point where even half of my month off became consumed by the stress of the impending return trip to China. As soon as I hit the midway point of my time at home I began the mental count-down. It was sort of like a train headlight at the other end of the tunnel, and it would just get closer and closer over the next two weeks. I could not get out of the way and there was nothing I could do to stop it or slow it down. Eventually it was going to hit me. It got so bad towards the end that I was almost a basket case the last four or five days before I left for China.

Anyway, China is not for the faint of heart. The money is quite tempting, but remember this: they are not offering the money because everyone wants to be there.

canuckian
11-23-2016, 12:33 PM
I went two weeks ago for a screening with another airline. I actually had a great time. The medical went smoothly and only took about three hours which was unusual. I did it in Shanghai and the medical center was clean and modern.
I did the written in Haikou and Sim Eval in Sanya. The entire process was pretty low stress and I had a couple of days off while I was there. One day off was in Sanya where I stayed at an incredible hotel on the beach. The rooms I stayed in were night and day above what I typically get on a layover here.
I actually enjoyed the food too. I did see intestines and other gross items on the menu but managed to avoid it.
I was only there a week but it was a fun vacation and didn't cost me a dime. I had someone from the agency with me the entire time so I was never lost or confused and always had a translator.
I'm looking forward to returning in January for the CAAC checkride. I know a couple of guys over there now, one at Tianjin and they both seem to like it.