Ask Brian: My daughter wants to be a pilot. How much will it cost?

Courses are hugely expensive, though there are ways of cushioning costs

A professional qualification to fly as a commercial pilot can cost up to €100,000. Photo: iStock

A professional qualification to fly as a commercial pilot can cost up to €100,000. Photo: iStock


Question: My daughter has been fascinated with aviation for years. Now that she is completing transition year and starting into her Leaving Cert studies, she is as determined as ever to pursue her dream. As parents we don’t want to stand in her way, but I am aware it can be hugely expensive. What options are available?

Answer: The journey to secure a licence is an incredibly demanding one which requires a range of aptitude and skills possessed by only a small cohort of interested applicants.

They include excellent interpersonal skills, decision-making abilities, a technological aptitude, strong team player with ability to build and maintain positive working relationships, along with excellent analytical and problem-solving skills.

If your daughter believes she fits this profile, she should consider the range of options open to her to achieve her dream.

Aer Lingus recruits a cohort of airline cadets occasionally; it last did so in 2016. I would advise her to register her interest online with Aer Lingus and they will let her know when they launch another recruitment programme.

Be warned: competition is fierce. Expect several thousand applicants to apply for fewer than 20 places, so only a fortunate few will achieve their dream through that route.

There are also minimum education standards such as completing the Leaving Cert with grades required for level eight degrees (Two H4/H5s, Four H/O6s). There is also a requirement for a class one medicals as required under EASA (European Air Safety Agency) regulations, as well passing a colour blindness test.

A popular though expensive route are private training courses. There are several in Ireland. Check out for more information. If your daughter decides to go this route, it can more than €100,000.

One of the longest-established is a flight training school based at Cork airport, the Atlantic Flight Training Academy, which provided full time integrated courses.

Some trainee pilots secure their commercial pilots’ licence on a modular basis, enabling them to work in between modules to earn the income to cover the next lump of fees.

There are many similarly high-quality training schools in the UK. There is a flight training exhibition in Croke Park Conference Centre this coming Saturday 24th March ( ).

A further option your daughter might consider is Ireland’s only “aviation management” degree at DCU (DC117), which combines aviation management studies with the option to train as a commercial pilot.

This course would give your daughter a broad insight into all aspects of the structures, operations and management of the aviation industry.

DCU’s aviation management degree does offer a route to professional qualification as a commercial pilot, combined with a strong background in business education.

In the fourth year, the course divides into two streams. Students who opt to pursue integrated flight training do so at Flight Training Europe (Jerez, Spain) or Oxford Aviation Academy (Oxford, UK). The cost of such training is not covered by the degree itself and are estimated to be around €100,000.