Women pilots fly against cockpit prejudices

FARNBOROUGH, United Kingdom: When a stricken Southwest Airlines jet was expertly landed after an emergency descent in April, saving 148 lives, it was a surprise to some that a woman was at the controls.
Role models remain few and far between for women wanting to enter the cockpit, rather than serve the on board food, despite a huge shortage of pilots worldwide.
“So often we’re shown men as pilots, and women as cabin crew. This could be sending a message to young girls that if they want to work in aviation, it can’t be as a pilot,” according to the British Airline Pilots’ Association.
Europe’s biggest budget carrier easyJet, under an initiative named after pioneer aviator Amy Johnson, wants 20 per cent of its new cadet pilots to be women by 2020.
Today, just three per cent of professional pilots worldwide are women, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The UN agency estimates that passenger numbers will double over the next 20 years, and that airlines will need to recruit 620,000 pilots to keep up with the demand. Tammie Jo Shults is one of those few women.
Shults, one of the first female fighter pilots for the US Navy, performed heroics in safely bringing down her Southwest Boeing 737 after an
engine blowout. One passenger died in the incident. — AFP