Published on January 29th, 2016 | by Mark Dwyer


Pilot training exhibition aims to attract female students as just 3% of pilots worldwide are women

A mere 3% of pilots are women – or 4,000 out of a total of 130,000 pilots worldwide*. While it is nearly 50 years since the first woman became a commercial pilot the number of female pilots globally remains low. Of British Airways’ 3,500 pilots just 200 are female – and that is more than any other UK airline. Only 5.4% of US airline pilots are women, the same percentage as it was decades ago. Closer to home, just 10% of Aer Lingus pilots are female. A pilot training exhibition, Pilot Careers Live, taking place in Croke Park Conference Centre on Saturday 27th February, aims to attract more females to the industry.

Those eager to take to the skies – either young students or those who would like to change their career – will have the opportunity to meet with flight training professionals and airline representatives at the event. Organisations including Aer Lingus, City Jet, a number of European approved pilot training organisations including Simtech Aviation, and universities and colleges that provide aviation training such as Dublin City University and Carlow Institute of Technology, will take part in the event.

An informative, interactive seminar programme will also run throughout the exhibition with speakers including Captain Seán McCarthy, Irish Air Corps; Margie Burns, Aviation Selection Consultants; Captain Steve Kelly, People and Change Manager, Aer Lingus with broadcaster Michael Comyn chairing the sessions.

Darren Ward, ‘Pilot Careers Live’ organiser said, “A career as a pilot is an exciting and well-respected career option. Pilot Careers Live will provide potential pilots with detailed information and advice about the steps involved in becoming a commercial pilot, as well as what to expect from a career as an aviator. Pilot training is a unique learning experience – character-building, complex and challenging – which demands high levels of self-discipline and determination, across a variety of physiological and practical skill-sets, and can lead to one of the most fulfilling and rewarding career options available. Of course, this career is open to both men and women – we hope that more female students will come forward to address the gender imbalance that exists in the industry.”

Pilot Carol Vorderman is currently in the midst of preparations to fly solo around the world in her DA42VI, Mildred, named after British pioneer aviator Mildred Bruce. Carol has spoken extensively about the importance of encouraging young women to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) so that careers such as aviation are open to females.

“We should be introducing these [STEM subjects] to women and girls from a young age, showing them that these industries aren’t just for ‘the boys’,” she said. “Events like [Pilot Careers Live] weren’t around when I was hoping to become a pilot – there was very little information at the time about the routes available to a career in aviation, particularly for women.”

Carol, who has an engineering degree from Cambridge, always dreamed of becoming a pilot, although she found in 1978 when she tried to join the Royal Air Force that the Force was not yet open to women. Now an Honorary Group Captain for the RAF’s Air Cadets, Carol is encouraging young people, and particularly young women, to embrace the opportunities available to them today.

“Women and girls today have so much more information and opportunity available to them today. Airlines are already recognising that the lack of women in their workforce is not OK. EasyJet announced late in 2015 they want to get more women into aviation, BA did the same during their recruitment for the Future Pilot Programme in 2015 – it’s never been a better time for women to ask all the questions they have about a pilot career and follow their dream.”

Pilot Careers Live, the first step towards a professional pilot career, takes place in Croke Park Conference Centre on Saturday 27th February 2016 from 10am – 4.30pm. Exhibition tickets from €6.00 can be booked online: with advance tickets discounted, or bought at the event.

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About the Author

Mark is an airline pilot flying the Boeing 737 for a major European airline. In addition he is also a Type Rating Instructor, Type Rating Examiner and Base Training Captain on the B737. Outside of commercial flying Mark enjoys flying light aircraft from the smallest 3 Axis microlights up to heavier singles. He is also an instructor and EASA Examiner on single engines and a UK CAA Examiner. He flies the Chipmunk for the Irish Historic Flight Foundation (IHFF). Mark became the Chairman of the National Microlight Association of Ireland (NMAI) in 2013 and has overseen a massive growth in the organisation. In this role he has worked at local and national levels. In 2015, Mark won ‘Upcoming Aviation Professional Award’ at the Aviation Industry Awards sponsored by the IAA. Mark launched this website back in 2002 while always managing the website, he has also been Editor and Deputy Editor of FlyingInIreland Magazine from 2005 to 2015.

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