Careers in the air - Pilots

Aer Lingus offers pilots an exciting and rewarding career flying modern Airbus aircraft on routes from Ireland and the UK to destinations in Europe and North America.

If you are a qualified Pilot, you can join us through our Direct Entry route. If you have not yet qualified, you may apply for our Cadet programme when this is available for application. Both routes follow a rigorous selection process to ensure that only the best pilots fly for Aer Lingus. Check our current vacancies and the FAQs below to find out more. If you are interested in a career with us you can also make a speculative application and we will get in touch with you as soon as a suitable opportunity arises.

If you fly with Aer Lingus, you will fly an Airbus, either an A320, A321 or A330.

It is hard to define the normal day of a pilot. Each one is different. However, all flying days will involve the pilot and crew going through certain steps, including

  • Check-in
  • Getting all the data required for the routes for that day, ie
    • Checking flight plans
    • Checking the expected weather
    • Calculating the fuel and performance required for the flight
  • Preparing the aircraft for flight, ie
    • Conducting a thorough safety check
    • Preparing onboard computers for the route
    • Communicating and liaising with cabin crew, engineering, operations, air traffic control
  • Flying the aircraft
    • Monitoring the systems
    • Liaising with all the Air Traffic Control stations on route
    • Communicating with passengers, and
  • Preparing for the next journey
    • Pilots ‘turn around’ the airplane
    • A pilot on the European network may fly 4 or 5 flights a day, 5 days a week.

There are two ways you can become an Aer Lingus Pilot. You can join as a Direct Entry Pilot, or you can be awarded an Aer Lingus Cadetship. Both involve getting your Airline Transport Pilot's Licence.

If you want to be an Aer Lingus Cadet, monitor the Aer Lingus website to see when cadets are being recruited. After applying you can expect to be tested through aptitude tests, interviews, group exercises and medicals. If you are awarded a Cadetship, Aer Lingus will send you to an approved ATPL training school in order for you to get your ATPL.

The ATPL which you need to secure, either as a Cadet or as a potential Direct Entry Pilot, is referred to as a ‘Frozen’ Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence. (It becomes ‘unfrozen’ after 1500 hours of commercial flying, and is thereafter simply referred to as the ATPL). It includes a Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPL), multi-engine instrument rating (IR) and the ATPL written exams.

ATPL training is delivered through two main methods. One is through an Integrated flight training programme at an approved flight training school (the programme used by Aer Lingus to train its cadets); the other is through a Modular method.

The Integrated training course takes a student with little or no previous flying experience to a 'frozen ATPL' in approximately 16 months. On completion, the student is eligible to work as First Officer with an airline as soon as specific aircraft type training has been completed.

During the course, students live on or near the flight school and undergo extensive studies in technical and navigational subjects. Flying generally starts on light, single engine aircraft and advances to twin engine aircraft towards the end of the course.

Each course differs slightly depending on the training school selected, but the full course usually costs approximately €100,000. For further details, see or contact the individual schools.

The Modular method was originally known as the 'self-improver' route. Prospective pilots begin by getting experience and flying hours on basic aircraft and then gradually work their way through the various licences until they eventually gain an Airline Transport Pilot's Licence (ATPL). There are no restrictions on where or when each module is completed, provided each school involved is certified to deliver the specific training.

Modular courses were developed for those who do not wish to undertake a full-time course or who are unable to do so for personal, family, or other reasons. They tend to be less expensive than Integrated Courses, but they take longer to complete.

You are not quite finished, even when you have got your ATPL. You will still need a Type Rating for the specific aircraft that you will fly for an airline. However, if Aer Lingus is recruiting First Officers, you can apply for the position with your ATPL and if you are successful, the Type Rating and training will be supplied by Aer Lingus.

Ongoing training is a huge part of the life of Aer Lingus pilots, whatever their level.

In the beginning, with a frozen ATPL, and an invitation to join Aer Lingus, a new pilot can expect to start Type Rating and Safety and Emergency Procedures training. This is usually delivered at Dublin Airport. The Type Rating includes ground school tuition and exams, and a course in the A320 simulator. When all the elements are successfully completed, the pilot is eligible to begin online flying training in the right hand seat of the actual aircraft. The first number of sectors undertaken will be with a Training Captain and when fully trained and successfully checked-out, the pilot is qualified.

You are not quite finished, even when you have got your ATPL. You will still need a Type Rating for the specific aircraft that you will fly for an airline. However, if Aer Lingus is recruiting First Officers, you can apply for the position with your ATPL and if you are successful, the Type Rating and training will be supplied by Aer Lingus.

All new Aer Lingus pilots are assigned to one of the airline's four bases, Dublin, Cork, Belfast and Gatwick. From there, they can expect to fly in the right hand seat of the Airbus A319, A320 and A321 as a First Officer. They will spend a number of years gaining valuable experience on the Aer Lingus European network. The career progression is clearly defined through the Command Development Process, which ultimately leads to promotion to Captain, for those who are successful.

Ongoing training is a huge part of the life of Aer Lingus pilots, whatever their level.

Aer Lingus pilots also have the opportunity, after a number of years, to operate on our long haul network, initially flying as a First Officer on the Airbus A330 and with experience, as Captain. Of course safety and ongoing training are priorities for the airline, so along the way, pilots can expect many assessments, in addition to the 6 monthly simulator checks and annual on-line checks which are required to maintain a valid and current license.

There are opportunities for pilots to contribute to Aer Lingus other than through their work in the cockpit. There may be management roles available within the Flight Operations department. Line pilots can assist on many Flight Operation Projects which arise. Some pilots also deliver training while continuing to carry out flying duties. The crew training delivered in Aer Lingus is varied and may include

  • recurrent simulator sessions,
  • converting new pilots to aircraft type,
  • conducting statutory checks,
  • presenting ground school topics, and
  • assisting the Chief Instructors and Manager of Training and Standards as required.

Aer Lingus offers a competitive incremental salary scale with additional allowances based upon the number of flying hours that are achieved. Employees can expect attractive leave and extensive staff travel benefits.