Tamara Cover

Interview with direct entry pilot Tamara Koene

Dutch native and Aer Lingus first officer, Tamara Koene is flying high in her adopted home of Ireland. We catch up with her in the flight ops library to talk about her career so far.

Tamara First Officer

Why did you decide to become a pilot?

When I was younger I lived under the approach path of Schiphol Amsterdam Airport and I flew quite a bit as a passenger throughout Europe for holidays. My fascination with aviation and aeroplanes grew with every passing year. But it wasn’t until someone I knew joined the Royal Air Force that I became seriously interested in a career in aviation. At this stage, I was around 15 or 16 years old. I never thought it would be something that was within reach. I started to do some research on required high school subjects, competences and personality. It was then I realised I had the required skills to become a pilot. I started applying for flight schools and was accepted into a flight school in Amsterdam.

Where and when did you start training?

I started my training seven years ago with CAE Oxford Aviation Academy Amsterdam. The theoretical part of the airline transport pilot license (ATPL) took place in Amsterdam. Afterwards, I moved to Mesa, Arizona for the flying part of the training. I lived there for 11 months, which was one of the highlights of my flying career. Doing my first flight, first solo flight, and first night flight will be memories I will cherish for the rest of my life. To complete my training I did the last check rides in Belgium before I went to Oxford to do Multi-Crew Coordination (MCC) and Jet Orientation Course (JOC) on the Boeing 737 simulator.

What attracted you to a career in Aer Lingus?

Aer Lingus is a Skytrax 4-star airline, a national carrier, an airline that has impeccable service and a very good reputation. I carried out extensive research before I applied for the direct entry position, but ever since joining I knew I made the right decision. The training Aer Lingus offered me on arrival has really helped me to become a much better pilot. It is the leading airline when it comes to upset recovery training on the Airbus, and we’re trained to a very high standard so we’re prepared to deal with unexpected situations. My overall training with Aer Lingus was excellent. The whole team were friendly and helped me feel welcome from the start. The atmosphere within the company is relaxed, but always professional. If you talk to the captain, cabin crew, dispatchers, ground handling, or loaders, everyone is very committed and motivated to work hard and to get flights out on time.


Aer Lingus A321NEO


What aircraft type do you fly?

Currently, I am a First Officer on the A320 and A321. In a few years, I hope to move to the A330 and switch from continental flights to transatlantic flights. But before that I am looking forward to the arrival of the A321neo. I am excited to see what new opportunities Aer Lingus will take in Europe and North America and I feel very lucky to be part of the adventure.

Can you tell us about your lifestyle in Ireland?

When I started with Aer Lingus last April, I moved to Dublin with my partner. A lot of people have asked why I don’t commute between Ireland and Amsterdam. In my opinion, I would have half a life in the country I live in and half a life in the country I work in. I really enjoy living in Dublin. The Irish people are very open and friendly and everyone shows an interest in you. It reminds me a bit of the Dutch and I’ve felt at home ever since I moved here. I met quite a few people within Aer Lingus and outside the company who have quickly become my best friends in just a few months. Family members visit often and that gives us a chance to explore Ireland with them. I live just outside Dublin, close to the airport. It takes 15 minutes to get to work and 20 minutes to get into Dublin city centre. And if I want to go home to meet up with family or friends, there are regular flights every day.

Can you tell us about the application process?

The application opened around October last year. The online application process was very straightforward. The next step was a series of online tests which had to be completed within a certain amount of time, all of which are there to identify your abilities. I was invited for an interview and group assessment in January. Everyone involved was very open, friendly and helpful. The next day I was invited for a simulator check to show my flying abilities. About a month later I got a phone call to say I got the job with Aer Lingus, starting in April. So from applying in October until being offered a job and being an employee of Aer Lingus took around 6 months.

How do you see your career progression over the next 3-5 years?

I am really enjoying my time on the A320/321. I would like to stay on this aircraft type and I am looking forward to operating the new A321neo in 2019. This will give me my first taste of transatlantic flying while still doing the continental flights. I’m very motivated to be the best and bring out the best in others. So, as soon as I’m qualified to be a part of the training scheme I would be honoured if I could start my training career as a First Officer.

To learn more about our direct entry pilot careers click here. The direct entry pilot recruitment campaign is open until midnight, 28 December 2018.