Know the stories of women who make history in aviation, conquering positions traditionally dominated by men
Women in aviation represent less than 20% of the industry’s occupations. It is a disappointing number in an era that has diversity as one of its biggest discussions and goals.
Nowadays, the areas with the largest gender gaps are pilots (4.6%), maintenance technicians (2.6%), and senior leadership positions (3%), according to Women in Aviation: A Workforce Report, by the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
However, in baby steps, women have been conquering their spot in the aviation industry, and they encourage others to do the same.
To celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, SKYPRO interviewed women who made it to these positions, and their understanding on the subject is clear: more women in aviation means more innovation, safety and profitability.
Women in Aviation: becoming an Aircraft Maintenance Technician
“An increase of female presence would positively benefit the environment and work overall,” says Naiorovi Capellan, Aircraft Maintenance Technician – Personal archive
Naiorovi Capellan is an Aircraft Maintenance Technician at JetBlue, in New York, and agrees that there is a need for more women in aviation.
“An increase of female presence would positively benefit the environment and work overall,” she says.
Naiorovi’s career started early, when she went to Aviation High School, a vocational high school that allowed her to take the maintenance courses simultaneously with her required courses.
“The more I learned about aircraft systems, the more my love for aviation grew. I noticed that the coursework and concepts came easily to me as I was genuinely interested in this career path,” she tells me.
With the vocational program, she could get her airframe and power-plant licences, which Naiorovi used to further her career in aviation. “I started my career working on E140s and E145s, now I work on A320s, A321s and E190s,” she proudly talks about her aircraft models expertise.
“Women bring a different perspective on troubleshooting”
Being a woman in aviation is a vocation that brings great joys, but also significant challenges. For Naiorovi, working under difficult weather is the biggest challenge, which can make it difficult to complete even a relatively simple task.
However, the job as an Aircraft Maintenance Technician has its bright sides. “The biggest joy would have to be finding the solution to a recurring fault after constant troubleshooting. Sometimes it can be like solving a puzzle where you use the surrounding pieces to isolate the missing piece or, in my case, the defective item,” she says.
Therefore, she believes that more women in aviation, especially in aircraft maintenance, would be a valuable asset.
“Women often bring a different perspective on troubleshooting and finding the solutions to problems. I’ve also noticed that we are very meticulous with our work and this is a field that requires that kind of patience and precision,” she points out.
Female Pilots: more space for women to fly
Nihel Khedija El Hachemi is another name that made history as a woman in aviation. She was the first woman pilot in all the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Nowadays, she is the captain of an A320 at Airarabia.
“All-female crew flight from Sharjah to Mumbai G9 401”, Pilot Nihel Khedija El Hachemi (first to the right) – Personal archive
“My story with aviation when I was 4 years old. I went with my parents to Egypt for holidays, and the cockpit crew invited me over during the approach. Being a pilot became my dream that day, and even now every flight feels like a dream for me,” she says.
Nahil then started aero modelling when she was very young, from 5 to 14 years old, then she moved on to gliders and single engines. In 1990, she finished her studies and went to the United States.
“I went for the first type of rated aircraft MD82 MACDONALD in Minnesota NATCO. After a few years, I piloted other top rated aircrafts, A318/319/320/321,” she says.
After so many years in the field, Nihal got the chance to fly a plane with an all-female crew, an opportunity that she was proud to share online.
“I’m so happy to see other female pilots. Of course, I’m encouraging all of them to continue. It is not easy, but it is possible”, she points out. “In some countries it’s difficult to see female pilots, and also 15 years back it was a real challenge. But now I think it’s much better, we have made substantial progress”.
2022 International Women in Aviation Conference
Women in aviation is a united movement all over the world. This year, from the 17th to 19th of March happens the 33rd Annual International Women in Aviation Conference at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Centre Nashville, Tennessee.
The event will offer keynote speakers, professional development seminars, education sessions, exhibit hall, scholarship awards, and 2022 Pioneer Hall of Fame inductions.
Names like Joan Sullivan Garrett, MedAire founder and board chair; Jennifer Homendy, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chair; and Niloofar Rahmani, first female fixed-wing pilot for the Afghan Air Force, are among the keynote speakers .
You can register to attend the event here.
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