My daughter wants to be a pilot. How can I help her dreams take flight?

Journey to becoming an airline pilot is demanding and expensive

My daughter is obsessed with flying. She wants to take lessons at our local airstrip and is keen to explore what options are available to qualify as an airline pilot. Could you advise on whether this is realistic? What is the best route for her dream to take flight?

The journey to securing an airline transport pilot licence is a demanding and expensive one. It also requires a wide range of aptitudes and skills. You need to be a strong communicator, have well-developed decision-making skills. You also need to be a strong team player, have a technological aptitude and demonstrate leadership qualities. Good maths and physics skills are essential.

There is no cheap way of training. Some pilot training programmes in Ireland charge up to €90,000. Be sure to research flight schools and their pricing, as they can vary.

There are also options abroad. FTE Jerez is a well-regarded European Union flight school based in Spain. Its offers an airline first officer programme (AFOP) and is aimed at candidates who have little or no previous flying experience. It offers the training required up to airline-entry level. On completion of the programme, a successful applicant will obtain the highest level of aircraft pilot certification: an airline transport pilot licence (ATPL).

The new Technological University of South-East Ireland, through its Carlow campus, offers a BSc in pilot studies. The programme combines FTEJerez's integrated programme and the AFOP with an official degree.

This programme has been developed to allow airline pilot cadets the opportunity to graduate with both an ATPL licence and a European recognised degree. The BSc in pilot studies is compliant with the Bologna Framework and is a starting point to an airline career, especially for students who have just completed the Leaving Cert.

Successful candidates will be offered to join the course commencing in Carlow in September 2022 and, subsequently, positions on AFOP courses commencing in summer 2023.

Atlantic Flight Training Academy (AFTA) is based in Cork with a growing reputation as a leader in pilot training. It offers a mentored scheme with Ryanair. However, after all this you are still not ready to fly commercial jets. It is necessary to be "type rated" for the particular aircraft you will fly.

A pilot I consulted paid €27,500 for their type rating. He indicated that if repeats are required at any stage, it can get very expensive and you are less likely to be hired. Most airlines require first-time passes in everything. Some airlines are reintroducing the cadet route whereby the airline pays for your training, and you give a five-10 year commitment to the airline. This is by far the best route. Aer Lingus, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are some examples of the airlines that were running these schemes prior to Covid. It is unclear at the time of writing if these are due to resume.

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