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What is an Air Corps Cadet (Pilot)

(The following information is for guidance only and does not replace the official Cadetship terms and conditions which should be consulted)

What is an Air Corps Cadet (Pilot)

The Air Corps Cadet will undergo a course of cadet training of approximately 19 months duration divided into four stages. Each stage must be successfully completed before the student can progress to the next stage. A Cadet who fails to qualify for advancement from a stage of training may be required to repeat a specific stage of training conducted within the normal training cycle.


Air Corps Cadets will complete Stage 1 and 2 of the standard Cadet Course in the Cadet School, Military College, DFTC, Curragh Camp. This element of the course is approximately 10 months duration. During this time the Cadet is instructed in weapons handling (to instructor level), tactics (conventional, internal security and counter–insurgency), arms and foot drill, Map Reading, communications skills, first aid, basic military engineering, human resource management, communications skills and military law.


Upon successful completion of stages 1 and 2 in the Cadet School, the Air Corps Cadet will return to Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnell and be posted to the Flying Training School (FTS), Air Corps College (ACC) to undertake Stage 3: Military Aviation Cadet Training. This element of the course will see the Air Corps Cadet complete Aeronautical Ground School. 


Upon successful completion of Stage 3, the Air Corps Cadet will progress to Stage 4: Command Leadership and Organisational Studies. During this stage the Cadet will learn to practically apply military and aviation knowledge. Upon successful completion of Stage 4, the Air Corps Cadet will be commissioned as an officer in the Permanent Defence Forces as outlined below in paragraph 16. Stages 3 and 4 will take approximately 9 months to complete. 


The purpose of Cadet training is to develop character and leadership skills and instil a sense of duty and responsibility in the Cadets. To benefit from that training, which is conducted in an environment of strict discipline, the Cadet needs mental acuity and physical agility. During the term of the Cadetship the character of the Cadet is trained and moulded with the object of developing their powers of leadership, initiative and general ability. 

Who we want

The Air Corps is seeking applicants who are interested in serving the Irish state and who are seeking a rewarding career with a difference. The Air Corps is seeking applicants with an interest in operating highly advanced aircraft in complex operational environments. We are seeking applicants who want an opportunity to work within teams of competent professionals and who want to develop their leadership skills and lead highly motivated personnel in challenging missions.

The Air Corps is looking for applicants who have:

  • The ability to effectively plan, prioritise and organise
  • The ability to carefully analyse problems, in order to generate appropriate solutions
  • The technical and physical ability to operate military aircraft in complex mission profiles
  • Clear, concise and effective communication skills
  • High levels of self-motivation, the ability to motivate others and to work effectively in a team
  • The ability to function effectively in physically demanding and high pressure situations

Requirements / Qualifications

A summary of candidate requirements and qualifications is as follows:

  • Be 18 years of age or aboveand under 26 years of age on 1 September 2023.
  • Be a citizen of the state or be any other person who has a lawful entitlement to reside and work within the State for the period of enlistment required for the course of training as a cadet and, if subsequently commissioned as an officer, for the additional period of time that is required for the purpose of any such appointment.
  • Be of good character and satisfy any security clearance requirement.
  • Leaving Certificate/Bachelor Degree Graduate (specific grades apply).

Selection Process

Candidates will undergo numerous assessments, including psychometric testing, physical fitness testing, psychomotor testing, a psychological interview, competency based interview, simulator assessment and a medical exam. Candidates who are invited for interview will be required to complete and sign a Garda Vetting Application Form that, pursuant to Section 8 of the Data Protection Act, 1988, will authorise An Garda Síochána to furnish the Defence Forces with either, a statement that there are no convictions recorded against a candidate, or a statement of convictions, as the case may be.

Career Progression 

After successful completion of the Wings Course, Air Corps Pilot Officers are assigned to operational squadrons in the Air Corps specialising in either fixed-wing flying or undergoing a Helicopter Conversion Course to become a qualified helicopter pilot. Operational Pilot Officers carry out a wide variety of missions and roles including Army and Naval Service Support, Air Ambulance, Air Transport, Maritime Defence and Security Operations, Special Forces Support, Aerial Fire-Fighting, Ministerial and VIP Air Transport and Aid to the Civil Power tasks. Air Corps Pilot Officers also have opportunities to become Qualified Flight Instructors and Rating Examiners as well as serving in Defence Forces missions overseas.

2023 Terms & Conditions 

2024 Benefits of Joining the Defence Forces