More than 2,000 people have applied for about half a dozen pilot vacancies advertised by the Government Flying Service (GFS), Ming Pao Daily reported.
GFS, which now has 40 pilots, is mainly responsible for search and rescue operations in Hong Kong.
Due to the nature of the job, sharp eyesight is a prerequisite. Among the tests, candidates are required to be able make out written words from a distance of six meters.
Given the tough requirement, many applicants fail to pass muster.
As authorities have warned of a retirement wave hitting public servants after 2016, the GFS is also bracing for the prospect of many of its pilots reaching the retirement age in the coming years.
According to some estimates, nearly one in four of its pilots will retire after 2020. Against this backdrop, the GFS has begun to recruit reserve pilots to prevent a manpower shortage in the future.
Captain Michael Chan, controller of GFS, said the agency will speed up pilot training to prepare for the expected retirement wave.
There could be more hiring of pilots if necessary, he said.
Ming Pao cited a source as saying that new recruits will first receive training overseas for 13-14 months as cadet pilots and will then have to accumulate flying experience of 7-10 years in Hong Kong before being made captains.
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