Aeroclass instructor Donal Hanley: A career with undercover operations and revolution tanks

Instructors · 2 min read · Jan 05, 2023
donal hanley

Many years ago, Donal Hanley didn’t even think about the aviation industry. Although he grew up near Dublin airport and many parents of his childhood friends worked in the airport, he never thought about aviation as his future, and as he said, he never had a model aircraft in his bedroom.

His journey in aviation began in quite an unexpected way. He was training at the largest law firm in Dublin, McCann FitzGerald, where he got a position as a qualified lawyer in their London office. With this exciting position, he was introduced to the field of aircraft finance and his journey in the aviation industry set off.

Aircraft financing and leasing became Donal’s true passion, and he never regretted his choice. One of the reasons why is that his career, as he said, has been global and it has taken Donal all over the map.

When asked about the most memorable events in his career, Donal clearly remembers his first time arresting a Brazilian aircraft in Canada . He had to work with a private detective, who had to go to the airport, see when his aircraft was going on a particular route and report to Donal. The pair had to figure out everything themselves: which airports the airline flew to, which ones they flew the aircraft in question to, and examine and rule out jurisdictions in which that airline operated. His first arrest, as he said, was thrilling, and although he has done many arrests ever since, the first one always stands out in his mind.

The other highlight in Donal’s career was setting up a joint venture aircraft leasing company in Egypt with his employer at the time, an American leasing company. Together with the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry, they established the joint venture right before the Egyptian civil conflict. Now he remembers the board meeting during the uprising when they heard the rolling tanks outside the Civil Aviation Ministry, where the meeting was held. One of the juniors looked through the window and saw tanks heading out of the city. After this, the chairman said: “This is good, we are still in power, we are still in office.” This kind of experience was not something Donal expected when graduating from law school.

Along with many experiences, Donal was also familiar with teaching. Having a few teachers from his father’s side, Donal found it almost natural to take on the role of a teacher. He says that he had to learn everything by himself, reflecting on the mistakes he had made. Now he offers his expertise and advice on aircraft leasing to all the eager learners at Aeroclass – to save them from the burden of making the same errors. All of that and much more you can hear in our Expert Talk. The instructor shares a lot of insights about digital learning, his course at Aeroclass, and more details about his career in the aviation industry.

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Jet pilot @NASA

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