How to become a Boeing 737 Ryanair Pilot


[Important note:] Things have changed since I wrote that article. For instance, the process for the interview is slightly different. I wrote a new post more up to date that you can use in complement of this one.

In this article, I will try to explain what you have to go through when you apply to Ryanair as a cadet. It’s a long way since you succeed the interview to when you get the chance to fly the Boeing 737-800 on a scheduled flight.

  1. How to apply and what to expect for the interview
  2. Contractor Pilot: Set up an Irish Ltd Company, CAE contract, IAA transfer licence and Airport ID
  3. Introduction week and CAE B737NG Type Rating
  4. Base Training, Supernumerary flights and Wing Ceremony
  5. Line Training

What I will say in this article is really important because I think most of us, Pilots, don’t know at all what is going to happen. In fact, here you will get many informations of what to expect and when.

First, You need to know that you won’t be flying before 5 or 6 months from the time you got a positive answer. And of course, you won’t get any salary during that period. Above that, you will have to cover a lot of expenses during theses months: Food, accommodation mainly but many others costs as repairs, although other can be perform by you using tools as the electric staple gun which is perfect for many repairs… I just precise that I don’t tell it’s good or bad… I just give informations.

  1. How to apply and what to expect for the interview

I have already written an article with my feedback here:
I will give you some more informations.

You need to apply through CAE website via this link, they manage the recruitment for Ryanair. Everything is already explained on their website, you need to read it carefully.

Basically, when you have applied, you will first receive an email from CAE telling you that they will call you in the next 15 days for a phone interview. When they call, they test your english level. It is really basic, you don’t need to worry if you are able to have a basic conversation in English. They will ask some questions about your licence, medical expiry. And then, they will read a short text and ask you some questions about it. Then, either they will give you a date for the interview or call you back some days later, it depends.

What I recommend for the interview:

  • ACE: The Technical Pilot Interview (Second Edition). This book is a must to prepare any pilot interview. Any questions you will get for the technical part of the Ryanair assessment is present in this book. If you have to buy one, I really recommend this one. It will be useful afterwards also to study anything when you need.

ACE - The technical Pilot Interview
ACE – The technical Pilot Interview

  • If you are not familiar with the B737NG, get at least 2 hours in a simulator center to prepare yourself. There are many in Dublin where you can go with very good instructors and they know how to prepare you for the assessment. It is important to remember at the sim assessment than the examiners want to see good CRM from you guys!

    For that, you need to talk a lot with your sim partner all the time for whatever actions you do. It is not single operation pilot anymore. So you need to rely on each other.Normally, you will be starting the sim assessment already lined up on the runway, engines running. You will have to make a short before take-off briefing as you learnt before. This needs to be simple.Here is an example but you can add informations if you want.

    “This will be a left/right seat take-off, FLAPS 5. The departure, CLIMB straight ahead, STOP altitude 5000ft. The MSA is 3000ft. If we have an emergency before V1, I will close the thrust levers and stop the aircraft, and you will inform ATC. If we have an emergency after V1, no actions below 400ft except to raise the gear. We will then climb straight ahead to the MSA 3000ft, inform ATC and request vectors for an ILS to land. Do you have any questions?”

    Again, this is an example. You will get time before the sim to prepare and know what to say. You can brief the plate if you have an SID departure. You will have to call for all the checklists, but no need to do them, the examiner will tell you “checklist is done”.
    Just call for Before Take-Off, After Take-Off, Descent, Approach and Landing Checklist at the appropriate time.

    After your initial climb to the cleared altitude, the examiner will ask you to do some turns, climbs or descents with a certain rate of climb or speed. Just know your pitch and thrust settings. Then, the examiner will generally give you a heading to come back towards a beacon. He will ask you your position (radial and distance from the beacon) and will show you a plate and ask your position on it. It’s not difficult but I suggest to train with flight simulator for that. After that, you continue flying to the beacon, and maybe few miles before reaching the beacon, the examiner will tell you have an emergency like a cabin fire or passenger heart attack.



    What I suggest here when you get an emergency, first continue flying, then give controls to your Pilot Monitoring but tell him what to do: “I will give you controls, continue flying to the beacon, when passing overhead, do a direct entry, then fly 180° inbound / 360° outbound, right turns and remain in the hold”. Make sure your PM has understood the instructions and verify also if he’s doing correctly.

    When this is done you can contact ATC:

    “MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY, Ryanair 123, we have a cabin fire, holding at the beacon, Standby…”

    Then you have to use something like PIOSEE (Problem, Informations, Options, Execute, Evaluate), this is used to help diagnose and resolve an emergency you have to deal with. After that, you can do a NITS brief (Nature/Intention/Time/Special instructions).

    You need first to call the Number 1: “Number 1 to the Flight Deck”, then you say:

    “This is a NITS brief, we have a cabin fire, the plan is to return to the airport, we will be landing in approximately 15 min, please prepare the cabin for an evacuation”

    and then ask the number one to repeat the brief. Then you prepare the aircraft for the landing, set your minimums, frequencies… Call again ATC and request vectors for an ILS. Do the approach, ILS RAW DATA. Make a perfect landing is not a requirement! Just do a stabilized approach with the good settings, and land on the center line! If you feel you’re not stabilized, GO-AROUND!

    This is just an exemple of what you could get, this is not what you will get. I just want to give you an idea of the scenario, and this is good to prepare.

2. Contractor Pilot: Set up an Irish Ltd Company, CAE contract, IAA transfer licence and Airport ID

When you get a positive answer few days after your assessment, you are enrolled in the Ryanair process. You will have a lot of paperworks to fill… This isn’t the best part, but you have to do it.

You will be contacted by McGinley Aviation that will give you all the informations. You can choose between 3 accountants:

  • Contracting +
  • O’Connor and Associates
  • Scalon Associates

They will send you a lot of forms to fill, and then they create the Ltd Company for you. Everything is done by email. This part is free until you get paid.

You have to sign your CAE Contract for the type rating. You will need to pay 29500€, at least one month before you start the introduction week.

You also need to transfer your licence in Ireland. This might take some time but you have plenty of time before you start flying with Ryanair, but launch the procedure as soon as you can. The IAA will take 450€ for the licence and another 300€ to put your 737 rating on it later…

You will have to get a Ryanair ID and contact crewlink for that. This is the most annoying part because they want to know everything you’ve done in the previous 5 years. You need references that they will call to make sure you’re saying the truth… and also a criminal record.
The ID costs about 200€.

3. Introduction week and CAE B737NG Type Rating

Here you are finally, at least a month after you interview, you go to East Midlands for the introduction week. During this week, you have different courses like CRM, Dangerous Goods, Security Training, Safety and Emergency Procedure, Fire Ground Training. You also go to the pool (you pay £3 for that) to use the life jacket. The last day, you go to Stansted for some exams and visit a 737 in the hangar and jump on the slides.

During the week, you will also get to see the taylor You try shirts, pants… for the uniform, they will ship it to your house. This will cost between 600 and 900€ I would say depending on what you take. Just for your information, from the moment you get your uniform and your Ryanair ID with crewlink, you can jumpseat on all Ryanair flights for free. But not before.

No need to say that you have to organize everything by your own for transports, accommodation.

For the Type Rating, you can have a look at the article I made some time ago:

4. Base Training, Supernumerary flights and Wing Ceremony

Once you’ve completed your Type Rating, you will be scheduled for the Base Training and Line Ops day. This might take some time as there is only one aircraft for the Base Training and a lot of cadets getting type rated every weeks. But I believe, Ryanair will get other aircrafts dedicated to Base Training in the future. Here again, an article about Base Training:

After that you will go to Dublin Headquarters again for the Wing Ceremony. This lasts for a morning. You meet some people from the management and get a diploma.

During theses days, you will have some supernumerary flights. You’re scheduled with crews to observe the flight from behind on the jumpseat. You have 8 sectors to do. This is good opportunity to ask questions before your Line Training.

5. Line Training

After all theses months of training, you will now start to fly under supervision with a Line Training Captain. You will get a base for the Line Training. This might be different from your final base. During your Base Training, they will ask you to choose 3 bases you would like for Line Training but you have no guaranty to get one of them. For the final base, you can request online 5 bases by order of preferences.

It is also possible to be sent to different bases during the Line Training from one week to another and you have again to organize everything.

Line Training is minimum 66 sectors for cadets with a target at 80. Generally takes 2/3 months to complete.

Another important thing. When you start the Line Training, you will have a Safety Pilot with you meaning you’re 3 in the cockpit. This is another Ryanair First Officer with experience. You will not get paid until you are Safety Pilot Released. This take generally 10 to 30 sectors I would say, it depends on your performance.

After that, you start getting paid at a rate of 30.5€ per hour. After you get Line Checked, it will be 50.5€ and from 500 hours, 65.5€. After 1500 hours, 70.5€. This is not net. You will have to pay your accountant, taxes, social insurance and maybe plan for a pension scheme…

Every year, you will get one month off not paid + twice 5 days off.

7 thoughts on “How to become a Boeing 737 Ryanair Pilot

  1. Firstly, thanks Johan!!
    This is very well written, at the I feel like you’re warning the readers about details that are quite important… thanks for that
    and thanks for giving us inspiration and motivation while we need it (currently in training…)

    I am curious to know which will be your base?

  2. Hi Romano and thank you for your comment!
    I am really happy if this can help. I don’t know my final base yet. My next flight should be my line check 😉 After that, I should know for the final base within one month… I requested by order of preferences: Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Palma de Mallorca and Gerona.
    I wish you the best for your training. It’s a really good period to get your licence!

  3. Very nice detailed article, thanks a lot for the tips, and infos Johan !

    Hope you got one of your requested base.

  4. Hi Patrick!Thank you for your comment, really happy this helps!
    Unfortunately I didn’t get any of my requested bases but it could be worst. I got Stansted which is alright for me.

  5. Hi Johan

    Thank you for this very interesting article. Hope you will write another article describing your first months at Ryanair!

    All the best

  6. Hi Patrick!

    Thanks for your detailed info!
    Do you know if ab-initio pilots with age 40 – 41 make a chance with Ryanair?

    Fly safe and happy landings!

  7. Hi Bram!
    No problem at all, many pilots start as cadets with Ryanair being between 35/40’s. Good luck to you!

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