Source: Simple Flying – Air Canada passengers on a recent flight from Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ) to Barbados Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) were treated to an all-female crew. Some may say that this is not entirely unique. However, what makes it special for the industry and airline is that the flight operated onboard Air Canada’s Boeing Dreamliner 787-8.
Air Canada AC966 departed Toronto on November 2nd, scheduled to depart at 08:15, eventually leaving the gate at 08:39. The flight traveled southeast, touching down in Barbados at 13:05, 15 minutes ahead of schedule. With a flight time of four hours, and 26 minutes. The flight was operated by the airlines B787-8, registration C-GHQQ.
An airport worker at Grantley Adams International Airport commented about the occasion:
“It’s not a first. It’s just rarely seen especially for a 787. There have been instances in the past where it has occurred, but it’s very infrequent.”
Piloting and aviation have long been male-dominated industries. However, statistics show an increase in the number of females now in the pilot seat. Recent reports estimate 5.5% of pilots in the United States are female, compared to 4.7% in the United Kingdom. India is a leader in the movement, with a record 12.4% of female pilots at the helm, twice as many as the United States, the world’s largest aviation market.
India has long encouraged females to step into roles within science, technology, engineering, or math, which includes pilots, and Indian airline IndiGo has created policies to retain and nurture female talent. The largest airline in India offers flexibility to all female pilots and crew to work safely during pregnancy. It excludes them from flying duties, 26 weeks paid paternity leave (as by law), crèches for childcare, and offers flexible working contracts that allow two weeks of leave per calendar month.
Vistara is also encouraging the movement with similar benefits as paid crèches, 26 weeks of paid paternity leave, and flexibility for roles on the ground during pregnancy.
Earlier in October, Mexican ultra-low-cost carrier Volaris sent an all-female flight crew to collect its 115th aircraft, an Airbus A321neo, from Hamburg Finkenwerder Airport (XFW). The ten women then delivered the plane to its home base at Mexico City International Airport (MEX).
The Mexican airline took the opportunity “to reinforce its commitment to promote actions that raise awareness of the importance of inclusion in one of the industries with the lowest representation of women.” 16-year veteran pilot, Captain Viridiana Ramirez, commented on the occasion:
“It is an indescribable experience because of the excitement of bringing the 115th aircraft and because we have the opportunity to write a ‘little piece’ of the great Volaris history. It is an honor to grow alongside women who, with their leadership and professionalism, are setting a very important precedent in our industry”
Nicole Chang-Leng, Air Seychelles‘ first female flight captain, recently passed away, aged 45. A role model for females looking to join the industry, Nicole trained to become a pilot in South Africa before joining Air Seychelles in 1997 and leading the airline’s first all-female crew on a Seychelles-Mauritius flight on August 23rd, 2007, with the airlines Boeing 767. Nicole remained loyal to the airline for 25 years.