Jordi Sola Lopez was taking charge of one of his first flights as captain.
The Spaniard, a co-pilot normally, was really only beginning what he hoped would be a long and successful career.
His family claimed yesterday that the ill-fated flight from Belfast to Cork was the first where he had overall control of a plane.
From Manresa, 40 miles from Barcelona, Lopez (31) studied at the Top Fly aviation school in nearby Sabadell and also worked as an instructor.
He went on to fly in the Canary Islands before taking his current job with Air Lada, the company that owns the plane which tragically crashed on Thursday.
The pilot lived between Belfast and Barcelona and flew all around Europe, and had a partner, Sarabel Ruiz.
Outside the workplace Jordi Lopez was a champion ballroom dancer.
“It's difficult to believe,” his former dancing partner Meritxell Gomez said. “He was a lovely guy, he was an |exceptional person.”
The Spanish Embassy in Dublin called his parents in Manresa to inform them of their son's death.
They were expected to fly to Ireland this weekend to |identify the body.
A spokesman for SEPLA, the Spanish pilots' union, said Mr Sola Lopez was not a member of the organisation.