Flying High: A First Semester Experience of the BSc Global Business & Pilot Studies at MTU

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Flying High: A First Semester Experience of the BSc Global Business & Pilot Studies at MTU

Wouldn’t it be great if you could gain a university degree while training to become a commercial pilot at the same time? Well now you can. In this article I will explain why I chose this programme, the steps involved in the application process, as well as my experience of the course to date.

My name is Conor McEvoy and I am a first-year student studying the BSc Global Business and Pilot Studies course in Munster Technological University (MTU) Cork & Atlantic Flight Training Academy (AFTA). This unique programme combines commercial flight training with global business studies, providing the fundamental foundations of business operations as well as the required skills and competencies to safely operate commercial aircraft, where, upon completion of the programme, I will graduate with an NFQ Level 8 Bachelors of Science Degree in Global Business and Pilot Studies. The combination of gaining a university degree as well as completing my commercial flight training is the main reason why I chose this course.

I have loved aviation for as long as I can remember and have always marvelled at the sight of aircraft, from microlights to commercial aircraft. If it had wings and an engine, I wanted to fly it. My first experience of flight in a light aircraft was in 2008 when I was just five years old. My father’s friend at the time owned a 1949 Aeronca Sedan (pictured above) based out of Ormand Flying Club in Birr, Co. Offaly, and he took my father and I up for a spin one morning. Once the wheels left the ground I was instantly hooked and knew that’s what I wanted to do. Fast forward to last year when I was looking at university options surrounding aviation and came across the Global Business and Pilot Studies course. After some research into the programme and a meeting with the programme coordinator I knew it was what I wanted to do.

This Diamond DA-42 is one of the multi-engine trainers used by AFTA for Commercial Pilot Training. Photo by Frank Grealish.

The application process for the programme was quite intense and consisted of four main parts, an EASA Class One Medical, online aptitude assessments (CUT-E), the simulator assessment and the interview. The first and most important step was to obtain a Class One Medical Certificate to ensure I was medically eligible for the course. The second step of the process was to complete AFTA’s CUT-E online assessment. These assessments were done online over roughly three hours and consisted of various tasks such as spatial awareness, logical thinking, complex control, multitasking ability, monitoring ability, personality questionnaire, work related behaviour, situational awareness and reaction speed. AFTA require at least two weeks of preparation for these assessments and there are many practice assessments available online which is a great help. Once the online assessments were completed and successfully passed, the next step was the simulator assessment and interview which took place on the same day in AFTA. The sim assessment focused on my ability to follow instructions as well as how I handled the aircraft itself. Previous flying experience is not required before completing this simulator assessment. After the sim assessment the interview took place in the academy building which focused on a mixture of HR and Technical style questions such as how a jet engine works and why I want to be a pilot. The final step of the application process before gaining a place on the programme was to ensure that I met the minimum CAO entry points for the course which for my cohort was 317.

I started the course in September 2023 along with 12 other aspiring pilots, initially none of us knew each other so we were all in the same boat, however due to the small size of the class we quickly got to know one another very well and have developed stronger friendships with each other as the weeks have gone on. I’m now just beginning Semester 2 of the course with my classmates and it feels like I have known them for years when it’s only been four months. There is a real sense of camaraderie among the group which makes it very enjoyable.

The modules in Semesters One and Two are all centered around business. Semester One’s modules consisted of Introduction to Marketing, Financial Accounting, Creativity Innovation & Teamwork, Information Technology, Contemporary Business and Global Business. While these modules were centered around general business, I was able to tailor most of my assignments to aviation, such as projects on Pratt & Whitney and Sustainability in Aviation. The study and workload in Semester One wasn’t too intense however we were certainly kept busy. A lot of the modules are continuous assessment meaning there is no end of term exam, but instead a series of assignments and presentations throughout the term which make up the final grade. In saying that I did also have modules that had final exams such as Accounting and Marketing. From my experience in Semester One, the main piece of advice I would give to stay on top of the workload and to do well is to attend as many lectures as possible and to put as much effort as possible into assignments and presentations which will pay off in gradually earning marks towards that final grade. Overall, the workload for Semester One was not too intense with a good amount of free time to do extra circular activities as well.

One of the main activities I am currently involved in is the MTU Aviation Society. I am the current Head of Events for the society and have arranged two trips for the society already. The Aviation Society is a fantastic way of meeting like-minded people who share similar interests. The great thing about the society is that it is open to not only the Global Business and Pilot Studies course, but also to all other courses in MTU. This has allowed me to meet aviation enthusiasts from across the university which has been fantastic. The first trip was to Atlantic Flight Training Academy to fly their brand-new, state of the art Boeing 737 MAX simulator. Each member of the society landed the aircraft on Dublin’s Runway 28L. This was a fantastic opportunity to gain an insight into our future careers. The second trip was to the Third Annual Kinsale Aviation Festival. This year’s theme of Aviation in Ireland was fantastic, hearing from experts from across the industry about what the future for Irish Aviation looks like. This provided the society with a very interesting insight into the many different sectors within the aviation industry, from aircraft maintenance to military aviation and everything in-between.

Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time to date in the BSc Global Business & Pilot Studies course in MTU and certainly look forward to semester two and starting the flying phase of the course in June. I hope I have given you an insight into what is involved in the application process for this programme as well as an overview of my experience of the course to date. It is a fantastic programme, and I would definitely recommend it to anybody that has an interest in aviation and becoming a pilot.

Written by Conor McEvoy – First Year student – BSc Global Business & Pilot Studies