Minister of Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha celebrated the achievements of and lauded women pilots in India stating that “India has maximum women pilots in the world.”
The Minister said this while he addressed a gathering to celebrate the golden jubilee celebrations of the IWPA – Indian Women Pilots Association. Also in attendance was Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa who also acknowledged and lauded the achievements of women in the aviation sector.
Mr. Sinha said, “India is the country with maximum number of women pilots in the world, be it in Air India or Indian Air Force. This is a testimony of the contribution made by women to the aviation sector and also by the country to their careers.”
The Minister also said that while their presence has added immensely to the aviation sector’s progress, the support of women is still required massively to strengthen the area a lot more.
The traffic woes in the country, believes Mr. Sinha, can be reduced if we learn to properly ‘utilize’ the ‘sky area.’ He stated, “The traffic problem can be dealt with if we decide to go vertical and utilize the sky area. It happens in many countries.”
The news is all the more important in the wake of three women pilots joining the Indian Air Force recently. Aviation is one of the most difficult and challenging spheres out there which requires a huge amount of training and tests.
Currently, about 600 out of 5050 pilots are women and the numbers just seem to increase with time. This increase of 11.6 percent is about 3 percent above the global average estimate which is a huge boost to women pilots in the Indian Aviation Sector.
There has been about 14 percent increase in the intake of women pilots in the aviation sector over the last five years. This is a welcoming and massive step toward women empowerment in the country.
An increasing number of airlines are hiring women pilots these days. Some of the rough statistics are – Air India has about 171 women pilots with 61 of them captains; the Jet Group has about 194 women pilots and 61 of them are captains as well; Indigo has about 127 women pilots of which 39 are captains; and Spice Jet has about 59 women pilots of which 16 are captains.
It’s only a matter of time before these numbers grow and the scope for women in the Aviation Sector widens even more. The prospects for women aspirants hoping to make a mark in the Aviation sector have never been fresher or broader.
As per these high-achieving ladies, there are no discriminations they face based on gender. The only hurdle they say is to convince their male colleagues of their potential and abilities.
Says a Lady Captain reminiscing about her initial years as a young pilot in her 20’s in 1980, “I was a young lady in my 20’s and all the line pilots were men in their 40’s, they were very apprehensive about my abilities, it’s only after a few flights that everything became normal.”
But while these heroic tales are encouraging, some of them are shrouded in hurdles of family pressure and certain archaic rules. For instance, one rule states that post pregnancy, women have no choice but to work only on a ground level job. They can’t immediately fly after delivery. Once a woman pilot’s pregnancy is confirmed, she is grounded throughout her maternity without a choice on medical grounds.
Despite these hurdles, these brave ladies do not regret making the choice of getting into the Aviation sector. Harpreet Singh, President of IWPA and Chief of Flight Safety at Air India states, “We are seeing more and more women in the profession, the environment has also become more favorable.”
We salute these brave women heroes for not letting anything get in the way of their dreams to be pilots in the Indian Air Force. Their flight to success has been nothing short of amazing and we wish them good luck to soar even higher.