By Jennifer Cairns 24 Oct 2022 6 min read

How I became a Pilot for Ryanair

Meet Fareeha Ahmed...

After years of training and studying, Fareeha is now a Ryanair Pilot! Having expereicned her training and studying through a modular route, Fareeha explains the different schools she has attended. Fareeha also speaks on where the dream started, the challenges she faced and what the recruitment process was like with Ryanair. 


Where did the dream start?

As far back as I can remember, I have always had Aviation in my blood, and I have always known that
I wanted to be a Pilot. Perhaps commercial Pilot jobs is a typical “boys” dream job, up there with
being a professional footballer, wrestler or rally car driver… yet the typical dream job for “girls” is
typically being a vet, dancer, hairdresser or pop star… again, not me! I have always dreamed of being
at the controls of a commercial aircraft!


Where did you start?

So, in 2017, I embarked on the first step of many towards the start of my career and joined Buckinghamshire New University where I studied BSc (Hons) Air Transport with Commercial Pilot Training. While being a pilot does not require you to have a degree, I personally believed that this option offered me safety for my career as it allowed me to study towards a degree and obtain my commercial pilots jobs license at the same time.

The course at Buckinghamshire New University has provided me with an invaluable insight into the Aviation industry and developed me both professionally and academically. I had completed many relevant and exciting modules which have looked at everything from the structure and development of the Air Transport Industry, Airport Operations, and I even had the opportunity to create and run my own airline using an online simulation for our Airline Finance and Economics module!

During the first year of university, I was also flying at least once a week training towards obtaining my PPL(A), and not long after I had started, I had my first solo flight – a day I will never forget! In the summer of that year, I had successfully completed my first step towards my career and was ready to take on the rest!

As part of the course structure, my next step was to complete 6 months of ATPL theory ground school - something every pilot dreads - and that is no exaggeration! I have never sensed such a vast workload in my life. I chose to go to CAE Oxford for this part as I knew their high standards and expectations were something that suited me, especially during this demanding time.

Ground school was nothing like I have ever experienced before. Whilst many can empathise with the significant workload, I think it is difficult for someone to truly understand what it feels like to remove yourself from everyday normality and society to thoroughly embed yourself into ground school and then to feel the weight of the importance of success. It is not ‘just’ passing or failing ... I had the immense feeling and acknowledgement that my academic and career progression rested on these exams, as well as the significant financial commitment placed into this training. 

Before I knew it, 6 months had literally flown by (excuse the pun), and after 750 classroom hours, 650 hours of revision and 42 exams later, I had finally done it. All 14 EASA exams passed – first time! A wave of euphoria overcame me as I truly understood the meaning of the cliché ‘hard work does pay off’. After a well-deserved summer off, I returned to university to complete the remaining modules and the all-important dissertation – ready for graduation by the end of the year.

This is where everything seemed to come crashing down. Halfway through my final year of university, the COVID-19 pandemic unexpectedly engulfed our normal lives, and it seemed like nothing was normal anymore. We quickly adapted to a new, online way of teaching and came to terms with the fact that we wouldn’t actually have a ‘last day of class’ together.

Whilst this wasn’t the way anyone would have pictured university to be, I had much bigger problems. I had planned to finish the last stages of my flight training straight after university so that I would have everything done as quickly as possible and was ready to take to the skies.


How did you reroute during the pandemic?

I made the difficult decision to postpone my training, as all pilot recruitment had come to a halt, with very little prospects of the aviation industry recovering quickly as flights continued to be banned across the world.

Whilst I didn’t want to waste my ‘time off’ doing nothing, I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in International Aviation Law and Regulation. This was greatly out of my comfort zone as I had studied nothing like it during Bachelor’s and touched very little on global regulations during flight training... so it definitely pushed me!

However, it was one of the best decisions I had made as my understanding of the aviation industry deepened and I gained a new appreciation towards an overlooked yet important part of global operations. Once that was over, I was ready to get back on track with my training and the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel began to shine as the aviation industry began to pick up.

I now had to make the all- important decision as to where I would complete the most complex part of my flight training. I had my heart set on joining Ryanair due to their incredible standards of training, and I knew it was an airline that mirrored my work ethic. This meant that I had to ensure that the flight school I chose was EASA compliment so that I was able to get an EASA licence (thanks Brexit!).

Whilst researching schools through online tools such as Pilot Network, and attending events such as Pilots Careers Live, I found that Bartolini Air offered a Ryanair Mentored Program that would allow me to train based on industry leading SOPs and allow me to gain access to exclusive fast track recruitment at Ryanair once I completed my training. Not long after, I was packing my bags and heading off to Łódź which would be my home for the next 4 months.

While this was not my first time living away from home, it was definitely my first time living abroad and it definitely felt overwhelming and nerve-wracking to be moving out of the country to pursue such an important part of training! However, those feelings were quickly settled when I met my course mates, who later turned out to be some lifelong friends – one of which I did my whole 737 type rating with!

Before I knew it, I had completed my Night rating, MEP, CPL, IR, and AUPRT in a few months thanks to Bartolini’s efficient training schedules and I only had one thing left to do before I was airline ready.


When you came back from Poland, what were your next steps?

Once I came back from Poland, I set straight off to Cambridge where I spent the next 3 weeks completing my Ryanair Mentored APS MCC at VA Airline Training. This was a school I had my heart set on joining since the start of my journey, as I was given tailored guidance and preparation, and I felt so confident going into my final assessment at Dublin. Doing the APS MCC at VA gave me such a good head start when it got to the sim phase during the type rating as I had already got to learn most of Ryanair’s SOPs, and I even had an instructor who taught me both at VA and Ryanair! 


Can you tell us about the Ryanair recruitment process?

After 4 years of training, studying and hard work, I was finally ready for the commercial world and was able to send my application off to Ryanair. As I was a mentored cadet, I got a response within 2 days inviting me for my final assessment in Dublin! 

A new wave of excitement and nervousness fell through me as I knew this was the final, and most important step towards getting my dream job. I made sure that no day was wasted and spent hours each day studying for the technical interview and simulator assessment – to the point where I was dreaming about the 737 in my sleep! A few days after the assessment, I got an email saying I was successful and was offered a place on
the B737 type rating course in July! I was absolutely ecstatic and could not believe that all the years of hard work had finally paid off!

The type rating course was significantly challenging – as you’d expect if you were being trusted to fly almost 200 passengers around the world! But I can truly say, it was equally as enjoyable and rewarding throughout. The instructors I had were all so amazing and the high standards Ryanair hold were evident through every single part of the course. It is definitely something I will remember for the rest of my career. I’ve now just completed my base training on the 737-800 and it felt exactly like the time I went for my first solo during my PPL - it was absolutely amazing! I can’t wait to start flying passengers around Europe, exploring the world and meeting more amazing people along the way!


Apply for Pilot jobs with Aviation Job Search today.