Interview with Aer Lingus First Officer, Lisa Cusack. - Simtech
The Aviation Industry Faces A Global Pilot Shortage
September 7, 2018

As part of our #WomenWithWings campaign, we are celebrating and recognizing the achievement of female aviators, throughout the month of March – International Women’s Month. We are looking at historical figures such as Ameilia Earhert and Harriot Quimby, who was Ireland’s first female pilot. As part of our series we are also meeting the female first officers and captains who are actively flying some of the largest aircraft in the skies today.

Aer Lingus Pilot’s Sonya Bisset and Lisa Cusack pictured at Dublin Airport.
PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN

1) Name, rank and Aircraft
Lisa Cusack, First Officer, Airbus 330

2) What/who inspired you to become a pilot (be it a person, quote etc)?
I was lucky enough to grow up right beside Weston Airport, in Lucan. Seeing so many planes pass overhead each day, sparked my interest, and later inspired me to take my first flying lesson, aged 13.

3) You do a lot of STEM/Females in Aviation work with schools, what encouragement or advice do you give young women who are looking to enter a traditionally ‘male’ dominated industry?
I would say don’t let gender deter you from pursuing anything you have an interest in. This advice applies to selecting school subjects, college courses and future professions. Studying STEM subjects, can expose you to fantastic career opportunities in the future.
If it interests you, then follow it, and don’t ever let gender be something that holds you back.

4)Has your aviation career been restricted or limited due to your gender?

I’m happy to say, no it hasn’t.

Aer Lingus Pilot’s Sonya Bisset and Lisa Cusack pictured at Dublin Airport.
PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN

 5) Is the aviation world moving in the right direction, in terms of encouraging more female pilots?
Thanks to inspiring pilots like Captain Grainne Cronin paving the way for women in Ireland, there has been a great increase in interest, especially in the last few years. This combined with social media platforms, school visits and great cadetship programs available, has resulted in a significant amount of awareness, slowly being raised.

6) Are their specific restrictions preventing women from becoming pilots?
None that I am aware of. Although some airlines in Europe and the Air Corps do have a minimum height restriction, which applies to everyone regardless of gender.

7) What would you say to a cadet who is in the middle of their training?
It took me 12 years from leaving school to actually flying an Airbus. For some it’s a long road, but most pilots have made the same sacrifices. Keep up the study and hard work, and it will all be worth it in the end.

Also don’t forget to enjoy each day, as it’s all part of the journey!

8) What life advice would you give to a future pilot?
Make sure to do a few lessons to ensure it’s really what you’d like to do. Shift work can be tough, and it will mean missing some important family events over the years, so be prepared for this. A medical is an important requirement in this job, so it’s also something to keep in mind. Overall, it’s an extremely challenging, exciting and rewarding career and those who pursue it develop a lifelong passion for the industry.