A childhood’s dream to become a pilot turned out to be a great life lesson and a gift of a lifelong adventure. Born in Ireland, Avion Express’s newly appointed Chief Pilot, David Sheehan, shares his story of making his dream a reality. Some discover their passion along the way, while others, like David, knew who he wanted to become from an early age. He shares the story of passion, determination and effort all combined which has helped him to succeed.
David recalls himself as a student who decided to reach for his dream career. “Back at the days, I thought the only way to become a pilot was to be selected as cadet by an international airline on its costs”, said Chief Pilot, “so I went to college, studied Electronics for 2 years which was, by the way, a completely unrelatable subject to me, until a friend of mine mentioned a local flying club.”
Since his first introductory flight in a small French aircraft, he was completely hooked: “I was amazed looking at the instructor. So impressed by how you manage to land a machine on the earth that has been in the air.” David shares that it took him years to get the highest qualifications for a land pilot license. He also had a full-time job that could pay these tuition fees. “You just have to be even more focused to maintain a job you’re in while trying to study“, he stated. “But once I got the hang of it, the fun started here“, David smiled.
When asked about his career before Avion Express, David replied that it was a long journey. Avion Express is his 8th airline. “I started flying the Fokker 100, a limited type of aircraft in the UK. Afterwards, I was flying a wet-lease in Romania for 7 years. Because of this, I was already familiar with the type of aircraft Avion Express operates with”, tells David. Following this experience, D. Sheehan was led to Avion Express in 2019 after working in Riga and China: “I knew this company before, and it was high on my list from other wet-lease operators”.
David Sheehan joined the company as a Line Captain. When he got acquainted with an open position for Chief Pilot duties, he decided to apply.
Regarding the responsibilities of the Chief Pilot, David said: “Interestingly, the Chief Pilot’s main responsibility is not as focused on flight as the Line Captain‘s. Generally, Chief Pilots fly a lot less.” David shares that he must be open to the company and the colleagues and he is also involved in flight safety monitoring policy. Responsibilities here lie in reading the reports and assessing risks. Chief Pilot may also be called upon to evaluate new airports. Apart from this, David also is interviewing new candidates.
“There is a list of duties that a Chief Pilot does, but it’s progressive. So, more tasks will come my way as the time progresses. There are a lot of new things for me as well in this position”, he says.
David shares that he had faced two difficult challenges in his aviation career. The first one was the pandemic, and prior to this – a career upgrade to captain: “It’s a position where a lot of pilots aim to go. It’s a challenge, but it’s worth it. You see a job from a different way when you’re a captain. Your perspective shifts from being a “manager” of an aircraft to a manager of people”.
What has aided Chief Pilot David in overcoming challenges and difficulties is, as he states, a passion for the industry. “Being resilient and hardworking is what has helped as well”, he adds.
Looking back at this long road, David is most thankful to amazing people he met on the way. Now David is glad to be a part of Avion Express, an international aviation company, and the impressive working environment in Lithuania’s HQ. “People who work there are extremely professional. They are good at what they do. In addition to this, the fact that Avion Express is going to fly for Lufthansa group is a good proof of their effort. I appreciate that a lot”, shares the Chief Pilot.
Apart from being a highly passionate and driven aviation devotee, David also shares enthusiasm for motorcycles and collecting retro sneakers. Aviation community is truly like no other. Avion Express company is full of wonderful aviation professionals and unique individuals as well.
As of the current point of David’s career, he is happy to be where he’s at and he hopes his colleagues are happy too. To summarize his story, David smiles: “Anything worthwhile doesn’t come easy, you have to make an effort. But it’s all worth it.”
It certainly is when you are reaching for your dreams!