Championing Women in the Cockpit

Just 5% of the world’s 290,000 licensed commercial pilots are women. This means that for every twenty flights, just one of them will have a woman in the cockpit. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic vastly halting the aviation industry for the past year, a recent report by the CAE shows that the global civil aviation industry will still require 264,000 new pilots over the coming decade. If we are to make up the future shortfall in the sector, finding a way to shift the percentage of women in the industry is essential.

Solving the impending challenge requires a variety of solutions, but perhaps the most important is creating a clearer path for more women to become pilots.

One of our missions at Alpha Aviation is to rectify the gender imbalance within the aviation industry by challenging stereotypes and empowering more women to pursue a career as an aviator.

Alpha Aviation is comprised of two international training facilities, one in Philippines as well as a location in the UAE. The success of these facilities is grounded in the fact that we are providing talent that is imperative to the industry and we are empowering a trend towards more women enrolling with the ambition to achieve a career in this industry.

This trend is being driven by broader attitudinal shifts about the types of jobs women see themselves working in, and by a number of pioneers who are raising the profile of women in aviation and demonstrating that there is a rewarding path to achieving a pilot license.

These positive role models are essential. Our Filipino centre has had many achievements for championing women. The facility has had its first 100% female cadet class, and the current course intake is well above industry average at 12% female.

We are also incredibly proud at Alpha Aviation to have trained Ghada Al Rousi, the first female Emirati pilot to fly with Air Arabia. She has received widespread acclaim for breaking the glass ceiling and speaking about her experiences of becoming a pilot.

Although the aviation industry has undoubtedly been one of the hardest hit industries by the Covid- 19 pandemic, we have adopted multiple strategies to adapt how we train cadets and make our training courses accessible to current female pilots even while planes have been grounded.

It has been crucial that we continue to remove barriers for both existing female pilots who have been put on furlough or made redundant during the crisis, but also for the next generation of women who wish to enter the industry.

To provide the continuity which is crucial in the aviation industry, AAG has been working closely with the industry regulators to implement new programmes for our female cadets to stay on track and champion their efforts towards building their careers.

Industry requirements indicate pilots need over 1,500 flying hours to receive their ATP certificate. So, in the Philippines, AAG has opened its recurrent simulator training programme to individual pilots who are no longer employed in accordance with the needs of the different regulatory regime. In the UAE, we arranged an e-learning curriculum that enables pilots to both renew and update their licenses so that they can fly different types of aircrafts, as well as support foreign license conversions.

This implementation of e-learning not only provides the flexibility for women who may have other responsibilities and societal pressures, but a lack of physical constraints allows for larger enrolment classes and greater access for any woman who wants to enrol.

Although Aviation industry has been met with several challenges recently, at Alpha Aviation we are continuing to seek these solutions to rectify the gender imbalance and value the importance of championing women in the cockpit.

Author of the article – Bhanu Choudhrie, Alpha Aviation Group’s Founder and Executive Director