Singapore Airlines training its first female pilots

by L&D14 Apr 2016
Until recently, Singapore Airlines (SIA) had about 2,000 pilots – none of which were women.

Now, they have committed to training two female pilots which possibly makes them the last major airline in the world to hire women in this role.

Even the group's regional arm SilkAir and their budget unit Scoot already have female pilots.

Around the world, about 5% of pilots are women, according to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots. And among Singapore carriers, women pilots make up less than 1% of the total pilot population

The female pilots' training will occur in Australia and Singapore and it will take between two and three years before they are scheduled for commercial flights.

"SIA trains cadets from scratch at a cost of more than $200,000 for each trainee,” one anonymous pilot was quoted as saying by The Straits Times.

“It's a significant investment so you want to ensure that the pilots you train are always operationally ready. This is not possible when women are pregnant and have to be grounded, usually for a year or more."

Captain Ng Thim Fook, president of the Air Line Pilots Association – Singapore, said the announcement is a sign that times have changed.

“With flexible rostering and other tools in place, pilots can now have better work-life balance,” he said.

Training more pilots is particularly important given the huge rise in demand for airtravel on the Asian continent. 

Asia is currently getting 100 million new visitors every year, and many airlines are in search of pilots. In fact, they are advertising directly to women to meet the demand.

“There is such an enormous demand to meet the growth that the gender bias will have to be pushed aside,” Sherry Carbary, vice president of flight services for Boeing Co., told Bloomberg.