Nearly 500 visitors attended Pilot Careers Live in Dublin on Saturday, to take the first step in their pilot journey.
This year saw a move for the exhibition, from the Dublin Convention Centre to the new venue of Croke Park, an effective choice as the day saw the highest visitor numbers in the Dublin event’s history. More than 20 Approved Training Organisations (ATOs), Universities, airlines and Armed Forces packed into the Hogan Mezzanine, on hand to offer plenty of information on training to become a pilot.
Exhibition Manager, Darran Ward, explained, “In a time where it’s upwards of €70,000 for most flight training packages, it’s more important than ever that future pilots do their research, knowing exactly what they’re signing up for.
“Yes, there are definitely indications of a pilot shortage, from Boeing’s projections and elsewhere, which means that there likely will be opportunities if you put yourself in a good position. But remember, that’s still no guarantee of a job at the end of training.
“People still need to ask the right questions and do their research, and that’s what we’re seeing plenty of today.”
The theme of being sure to ask the right questions was the overriding message from many of the presenters, too. The seminar programme began with Mike Comyn, a pilot himself and a broadcaster for RTÉ Radio and TV, who welcomed the visitors to the event and gave an overview of the important considerations when planning for a pilot career.
“No airline takes on a First Officer to remain a First Officer, they want future Captains.”
Margie Burns, founding director of Aviation Selection Consultants, was the next speaker on hand to offer tips on the competencies and key skills that aspiring pilots need to look at when considering the career.
She advised future aviators to ask the harsh questions of themselves, emphasising the importance of personal analysis and development. “No airline takes on a First Officer to remain a First Officer, they want future Captains. Look to develop your leadership skills, your communication skills, decision making, to name a few.”
She urged visitors to remember that buying any kind of flight training is a two-way process. “You’re the customer – just because you have pass an assessment of some kind doesn’t mean that you should definitely train with that school. Make sure you’re asking the right questions of them, too.”
Two pilots from the Irish Air Corps also presented later in the day, talking about a flying career with the air component of Defence Forces of Ireland. Captain Michael Barcoe explained that the Force looks for “leadership, technical aptitude and high stress tolerance” in applicants, while Lieutenant Paul McDermott added, “And how much does it cost you to train as a pilot with us? €0.00.”
Good news was on hand for aspiring Aer Lingus pilots, as Captain Steve Kelly, People and Change Manager, confirmed that airline’s cadet scheme is set to continue for the foreseeable future, taking on 12 students a year. With rumours that more than 2,800 applicants applied for the carrier’s 12 places earlier in 2016, the message from Captain Kelly was one of perseverance. He told the story of one applicant who had reached the final round a couple of times previously, before getting accepted on to the scheme on her third attempt. “She went away and analysed her interview, worked on the things she could have improved on her interview, and came back stronger – that’s what we want to see.”
He also advised that the huge application numbers are a little misleading, explaining, “Those numbers get cut down pretty quickly with an initial aptitude test online which you’ll carry out alongside your application. So if you get through that first round, you’re already in the room, so to speak.”