THE Civil Aviation Department (CAD) is to hire an inspector to monitor China National Aviation Corp's (CNAC) future operations in another sign the state-owned company's new airline will soon get off the ground. The department placed an advertisement in the latest issue of industry magazine Flight International calling for a flight operations inspector with at least 12 years in the industry and experience on an aircraft type only CNAC's airline will be flying. The job, which pays up to $1.7 million a year, including housing and flight allowances, is at a senior operations level and duties include 'the monitoring of the operating standards of the holders of Air Operators' Certificates', known as AOCs. The state-owned CNAC (Hong Kong), a subsidiary of Beijing-based CNAC controlled by the regulatory Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), last year applied for an AOC in a bid to challenge Cathay Pacific Airways and sister airline Hong Kong Dragon Airlines (Dragonair). An AOC is a technical document certifying the operator is deemed competent from a safety standpoint, and it is the first step in setting up a locally based airline. Sources close to CNAC said the company hoped to get China Hongkong Airlines off the ground by April 1 with charter flights to several mainland cities. Its AOC is expected to be approved by the end of next month. With a fourth airline soon to be operating flights from Hong Kong - the third is an all-cargo airline called Air Hong Kong that is 75 per cent owned by Cathay - the CAD will need to add staff to handle the increased workload. The CAD job calls for an inspector holding an Airline Transport Pilot's Licence with at least 5,000 hours flying experience and recent experience as a training captain in civil aviation flight operations management. The advertisement said preference would be given to those with experience on Boeing B737-500, B747-200/300/400, B777 and Airbus Industrie A320/A330 and A340 aircraft. Cathay Pacific Airways and Air Hong Kong operate Boeing 747s of the three specified types and Cathay will soon be operating B777s. Dragonair operates A320s and A330s, and Cathay operates both A330s and A340s. No B737s - there are five different types and three more are being developed by Boeing - are registered to Hong Kong airlines. CNAC, however, has just signed a lease for a B737-500 from General Electric Capital Aviation Services of the United States as part of its start-up. A CAD spokesman could not confirm that the specification for B737-500 experience was a result of CNAC's plans, but a department insider said: 'I think you can come to your own conclusion on that one. It's quite obvious from the ad.' The source added: 'It's just planning for the future. It's pretty clear by now that they're moving in the right direction on their AOC and we've got to be prepared for that.