Interview with direct entry pilot Padhraic Hoey

Monaghan native and Aer Lingus pilot, Padhraic Hoey may have only joined us in February and finished his training in 2017 – but already he’s thinking ahead to the day he will command his own aircraft. He currently operates on our A320 family aircraft and looks forward to the opportunities that the A321neo LR will bring in 2019.

Aer Lingus Direct Entry Pilot Profile

Why did you decide to become a pilot?

My background is in engineering, and as far back as I can remember, I was always fascinated with how things worked, especially how planes fly. The design of the aircraft, the equipment used and the systems involved. This interested me more so than actually flying a plane. It was only when I first started dating my wife that I got exposed to flying. Her dad has a PPL (private pilots licence) and used to hire out small aircraft to fly. Sometimes I would go with him. From the first time I took control and started to actually fly the aircraft, I realised that not only am I fascinated with how aircraft fly, but now I really like flying them.

That was it for me. Over the next few years, my desire to become a pilot grew bigger and bigger. I had applied for a few cadetships but unfortunately was unsuccessful. However, that did not discourage me. I worked very hard to save as much as I could to go down the self-sponsored route. I decided to attend FTE in Jerez because of their great reputation, and they have a longstanding relationship with Aer Lingus.

How did you become a commercial pilot?

I started my training in July 2016 and finished in October 2017, so almost 15 months. I attended Flight Training Europe (FTE) in Jerez, Spain. It’s an excellent school that has great relationships with very reputable airlines such as British Airways, EasyJet, and of course, Aer Lingus.

Aer Lingus A320

What attracted you to a career with Aer Lingus?

Three reasons. Firstly, the strong reputation Aer Lingus has had for many years. Both nationally and internationally. The airline and its staff are professional, courteous, and helpful – focussing on the guest throughout their journey. This along with their impressive safety record, thanks to a reliable fleet of aircraft and a great maintenance team. So, to be able to go to work every day and work with highly experienced and professional people in aircraft that you feel very safe in, it makes every flight more enjoyable.

Secondly, the career opportunities within Aer Lingus. You can progress from flying the A320 across Europe to flying the A330 across the Atlantic. There are also great opportunities to move into training where you can become an instructor or examiner.

Lastly, growth. Aer Lingus as an airline is growing stronger and faster than many of its competitors. It’s a great feeling to be part of a company that’s expanding its network, its fleet and has the demand to recruit more staff.

Aer Lingus A320 Flying

What aircraft type do you fly?

I currently fly the Airbus A320 and A321. There are great opportunities to progress to the A330 over the next few years, along with the exciting arrival of the A321neo LR aircraft in 2019.

Tell us about your lifestyle in Ireland.

I am Irish and have lived in Ireland all my life. I commute to work which is approximately one hour from the airport. I have made some good friends since I started working in Aer Lingus. There is a real sense of teamwork within the company and everyone wants to help each other out.

In my spare time I try to meet up with family and friends as much as possible, whether it’s going for dinner, the cinema or going away for a few days break. But it can be difficult sometimes with the schedule. Because the job involves sitting down a lot, I try to do as much exercise as I can during my time off. I train in my local gym and I like to cycle and run.

What can you tell us about the application process?

I was very fortunate to get accepted for the application process in Dublin shortly after finishing my training at FTE in Jerez. Whilst I was quite nervous in the days leading up to the assessments in Dublin – due to the fact that I really wanted to get the job! – the entire assessment process itself was very enjoyable. The interviewers and assessors created a very relaxed atmosphere. My favourite part was probably the simulator assessment. It was the first time I got to fly the Airbus A320. It was an amazing feeling. Slightly intimidating, but really enjoyable! The assessor added to the whole experience. He was highly experienced and extremely helpful.

How do you see your career progressing over the next 3-5 years?

Although I am only in the airline since February, I am very focused on working towards getting command. Every day there is always something new to learn about this career, whether it’s operational or actually managing the aircraft. It’s all very valuable experience that will contribute to command assessments. Aer Lingus has an accelerated command process which reduces the time to command compared to what it used to be. This is very exciting for anyone starting with the airline. There are many possibilities to advance provided you have the drive and a solid work ethic.

In addition, over the next few years Aer Lingus will be introducing the A321neo LR aircraft and this, along with some additional training, will allow transatlantic flights with my current type rating.

Do you have any advice for potential candidates?
Yes. Work as hard as you can and it will pay off. The training staff are highly experienced and extremely helpful. They have gone through this process themselves and understand how stressful and challenging it can be, and are willing to help but you have to put the work in.

There is no secret recipe to excelling in this job. Listen to any advice given by other experienced pilots, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The rewards at the end are worth it.

To learn more about our direct entry pilot careers click here.