The opportunities beyond the licence are out there. Captain Mark Dwyer of Ryanair recounts his continuing progression in a very fulfilling career. Getting the licence is just the beginning of the story.

On 4th January 2010 I walked into East Midlands Training to start my Ryanair Type Rating training. At 23 years old, I certainly wasn’t the youngest on my course but in my mind I had made it. Seven years of modular training, part time jobs and lots of hard work along the way, but I had finally got it, my first airline job.

When I finished my flight training in 2009, the pilot job market was in a bad place. The financial crisis was biting hard, oil prices were high and airlines were going bust (XL, Flyglobespan and a handful of small charter airlines). Ryanair were the only major airline hiring and I was very lucky to secure an interview with them. Many of my childhood memories were of watching and listening to the noise of the old Ryanair Romanian-built BAC 1-11’s with my Dad at Dublin Airport.

As I sit here writing in October 2018, I’m based again at East Midlands, back where I first started. I’ve been here six years now and at the age of 32 I’m now a Type Rating Examiner and Training Captain on the Boeing 737. What an incredible journey - and I hope my story will illustrate the opportunities that are available in the aviation industry.

Following my induction week at East Midlands, I completed the rest of my Type Rating at CAE in Amsterdam, followed by line training at Rome Ciampino Airport. This was challenging. There’s a big leap from simulator flying to line flying, especially when operating to some of the interesting destinations that were served. In hindsight, this was a great learning experience which gave me the confidence to operate the aircraft in the most demanding environments.


In April 2012 an advert appeared on our internal crew site advertising for Synthetic Flight Instructors (SFI’s). A few weeks later I was on a core course and qualified as an SFI in August 2012.

Being an SFI was my first exposure to professional instructing and I loved it. So much so that I completed my single engine FI Rating on my off days to instruct at a local flying club. As the main hub of training in Ryanair, East Midlands exposed me to such a wide range of training from fixed base type rating courses, to command upgrade training, operator conversion courses and everything in between. Every day was a new challenge; there were good days and not so good days, easy debriefings and some less so! As every instructor will tell you, the best way to learn is to teach.

After two years I became a project SFI. This still included instructing and line flying but the main emphasis of my role became project based. For example, developing material and presentations for our recurrent training programme, new courses and keeping existing course material up to date. One of the biggest projects I was very proud to be involved in was the development of the Ryanair Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT) eLearning course. This was a fascinating course to write. Once it was launched I was asked to join the EASA Rule Making Team for Loss of Control Prevention and Recovery Training. I was the first F/O in Ryanair to be asked to perform such a role, so I must thank our HoT Andy O’Shea and Deputy HoT Derek Hill for having the belief in me.

When my instructor appointment came to an end I did my command upgrade and remained at East Midlands. I never really left training, and usually completed at least one day per week of sim instruction. I quickly qualified as a TRE and Training Captain both at the age of 31 and within eight years of joining as a cadet, not bad really! I still complete ad hoc projects for the training department which include being on the EIS Team for the Boeing 737MAX, eLearning for our new electronic loadsheet project, simulator standards pilot and a standards instructor for the new Ryanair Mentored Pilot Scheme.

The opportunities are out there...go get them!

Published in CAT issue 6/2018