Monday, September 13, 2010

Etihad's first female captain takes to the skies!

Untenstehend der Originalartikel publiziert im "The National" vom 9. September

Sophie Blanchard, Etihad Airways´ first female captain sits at the controls before her flight to London yesterday.

ABU DHABI // Etihad Airways celebrated yesterday as the company’s first female captain took to the skies.

Sophie Blanchard, 33, from Lyon, France, took off in her Airbus A330-300 with 225 passengers and crew from Abu Dhabi International Airport at 1.30pm at the controls of Flight EY17, bound for London’s Heathrow. She landed at 6.04pm local time.

Achieving her uniform’s fourth stripe was the conclusion of 15 years of training and hard work for the married mother of two.

She joined Etihad in 2007 as a First Officer, after initially flying for Etihad Crystal Cargo while working for Air Atlanta.

“It is a great privilege to become Etihad’s first female captain and be the first woman to take full command of a commercial flight,” she said before the seven-and-a-half-hour trip. “The company has been very supportive in my aim to become a captain and I look forward to my first flight to London.”

Ms Blanchard started her aviation training when she was 17, after finishing high school. She travelled to Florida in the United States to train for her commercial licence before moving back to Europe to take up her first job.

“I started on DC8 cargo planes registered in Liberia, based in Belgium. That African freighter operation lasted for two years, and I travelled all around Africa and the rest of the world, for humanitarian and other cargo shipments.”

Etihad currently has 10 female pilots within its ranks and four female cadet pilots.

“We congratulate Sophie on becoming Etihad’s first female captain,” said Capt Richard Hill, Etihad Airways’ chief operations officer. “It’s a great achievement and well deserved as she has shown tremendous dedication to achieve the rank of captain.

“She has the right number of flying hours, right qualifications and training. So much of the job relies on having good people skills; being able to make clear and accurate decisions. Communication skills are paramount.

“We have a number of other female pilots who are completing their training. I would expect the next female captain to be ready in the next couple of months. There has been an increase in the number of female pilots who want to get into the industry,” he said.

He said Ms Blanchard’s example would further encourage women to become pilots.

Ms Blanchard’s success echoes that of another Sophie Blanchard, who rose to fame as the first female professional balloonist. Her namesake became an aviation pioneer, together with her husband, Jean-Pierre, at the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century, and even entertained Napoleon Bonaparte, who named her “Aeronaut of the Official Festivals”.

1 comment:

Johanna said...

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