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So You Want to be a Pilot?

14 December, 2023
Daniela Behan

We know that you have so many questions about becoming a pilot and here at Simtech Aviation, we have all the answers!

The exciting and challenging journey to becoming a commercial pilot is one of the most rewarding experiences that one can embark on, it is sure to fill you, your family and friends with pride at your amazing achievements and provide you with the only career you’ll ever need.

The road to becoming a Commercial pilot can be completed at your own pace. You can choose a dedicated full time course, or it can be completed in stages, which allows you to work, earn money, and fly in your spare time. The choice is yours!

So where does a budding pilot begin? 10 steps to success coming right up!

Step 1: Introductory Flight

Visit a flight school or flying club and take your first flight. These are known as introductory flights. They are usually 1 hour long and includes a briefing by a licenced instructor, covering the basic controls of the aircraft. The instructor will perform the takeoff and landing and once you are in the air, the instructor will let you take the controls for the very first time. We have no doubt it will be an exhilarating experience and most people decide right there and then, I want to be a Pilot! What next?

Step 2: Medical

If you want to be an Airline Pilot, you must gain a Class 1 medical. This takes place at the aeromedical centre in the Mater Private hospital. This can take many hours, but is completed on the same day and you will be issued with your Pilots Medical Certificate upon completion. Contact: [email protected] to book your appointment or visit materprivate.ie – Aero Medical for more details.

Step 3: Modular or Integrated

Now you simply choose the route that suits you best. A full time committed course, which is called Integrated, or a step by step route which is known as Modular. Whichever route you choose, both arrive in the same place. The flight deck of a passenger Jet! Both require progressive learning, helping you to attain various licences and ratings along the way the only difference being full time, or part time. Both start with the all-important Private Pilots Licence.

Step 4: Private Pilots Licence ( PPL )

To gain your PPL you will need to complete 45 hours of instruction in a light aircraft 35 hours dual instruction and 10 hours supervised solo time. Complete ground school theory and pass 9 Irish aviation authority exams and 1 flight test where you will be awarded your private pilots licence.

Step 5: Night Rating

A night rating is required to move on to the next stage. It gives you the skills, confidence and rating to fly at night. It will be conducted at a controlled airport like Cork, Shannon or Dublin and will take an additional 5 hours of flight. Gaining your PPL and night rating will ensure you have all of the most important basic skills to enjoy flying any time you want.

Step 6: ATPL

Airline Transport Pilots Licence theory examinations. This is probably the slowest part of your training and will require absolute dedication in order to pass. There are 14 Exams in total. This can be done in an instructor led environment with our partners at ASG.ie or in a self-study format from home which takes longer. The ATPL exam certificate is required before you are permitted to take on your commercial pilots licence. Each exam has a pass mark of 75% but most students exceed this substantially.

Step 7: Instrument Rating (IR)

The instrument rating portion teaches a pilot to fly in the clouds with no visual reference to the ground. This is the point at which most pilots really feel like professional pilots. The ability to take off and climb high above the clouds safely relying on just your instruments, skills and knowledge is a feeling like no other!

Step 8: Multi Engine Rating (ME)

You will get to enjoy the challenge of a slightly larger aircraft with two engines. It can be completed on its own, or as part of your CPL or Instrument Rating (MEIR) and includes general handling and flying with one engine failed. You are required to have accumulated 70 hours of solo flying known as PIC time (Pilot in Command) before commencing your Multi engine training.

Step 9: Commercial Pilots Licence (CPL)

The CPL legally allows you to fly for hire or reward. You need to have accumulated 100 hours to begin your CPL and the course itself takes an additional 25 hours of flight time. 5 of these hours can include the night rating. This is similar to the PPL course, but the flying standard and skill set you learn is to a higher degree of proficiency and a greater emphasis is placed on navigation skills and emergency procedures. You will build hours in between each of the steps and you will need a total of 200 hours prior to taking your CPL flight test. Now you have completed these steps, you have in your hands a shiny news ATPL licence and you are ready for the final step.

Step 10: MCC / APS Course

This final course completes your training and now you are ready for your airline interview.

An MCC or APS course is the vital last step in producing the finished product of a Professional Pilot. MCC stands for Multi Crew Co-operation and APS stands for Airline Pilot Standard. Both of these courses take all of your existing training into a professional environment and enhances them with all the knowledge skills and attitudes needed to work in a professional multi crew environment and best of all, it teaches you how to fly the Big airline Jets that you have been dreaming about.

The MCC certificate is the minimum required to gain an airline interview. It involves 3 days of ground school instruction and 7 days (28 hours) in a Boeing 737 Simulator. This is 5 days of MCC and 2 days of Jet Orientation Course (JOC)

APS is a more advanced MCC/JOC course, which best positions you to have a greater awareness of airline operating standards and includes 4 days of ground school and an impressive 10 days (40 hours) in a Boeing 737 Simulator with extensive technical, non technical, normal and emergency procedures covered.

Which course you choose is up to you, but here at Simtech Aviation we provide both of these courses to award winning standards. They are comprehensive, broad ranging and non airline specific, expanding your career opportunities by making you the perfect candidate for all of Europe’s Airlines.

For more information, contact us any time and we are happy to guide you and support you on your journey to your dream career in the skies. We have Airline Captains on hand to answer your questions and point you in the right direction.
email: [email protected]

The Job Market

There is an almost constant demand for pilots throughout Europe and between pilot retirements and aircraft orders there currently exists a pilot shortage for the foreseeable future. There is never a better time to start your aviation career.
Many airlines have an ongoing hiring process, and it is best to keep your aviation training as broad as possible to ensure maximum opportunities are available to you once you complete your 10 step training process.

But there are other routes outside of airlines. With your licence you can go on to become an instructor, passing on your knowledge and skills to the next generation of pilots and flying up to 900 hours per year and earning a salary as you get to do the thing you love. Other jobs include Aerial photography pilot, parachute pilot and corporate jet jobs flying VIP’s around the world are also exciting career paths.

Irish Air Corps

The Irish Air Corps offer cadetships to become a pilot and this would not only require a passion for aviation, but also for military service as it is primarily a military position. The selection process can be gruelling and is not for the faint of heart. It is no doubt a rewarding and unique route to take.

Whatever your dreams, we at Simtech Aviation encourage you to follow yours.