In a momentous occasion for the Indian aviation industry, an all-women pilot team from Air India is set to break all records by embarking on a journey that has been termed as the ‘world’s longest air route.’
Covering a distance of over 16,000 kilometres, the flight will be taking the North Pole route and flying from Bangalore to San Francisco in what is likely to be a 17-hour non-stop flight. This achievement is indeed no small feat for our Indian women pilots!
We are pleased to welcome @airindiain's first-ever nonstop flights between San Francisco and Bangalore (Bengaluru), India! This new service represents the only nonstop flights between the United States and Bengaluru.
— San Francisco International Airport (SFO) (@flySFO) January 9, 2021
Who Are The Women Behind This Team?
For an expedition as challenging and demanding as this, it is not surprising that only the most experienced and skilled pilots were brought on board to be a part of the team.
#FlyAI: And Countdown begins! Minutes away from take off of our nonstop flight frm San Fransisco – Bengaluru.
Air India set to script history as all women cockpit crew rolls out AI176 on its record-making around the world voyage, possibly charting the Polar route from SFO to BLR pic.twitter.com/GROWYI4JFa
— Air India (@airindiain) January 10, 2021
The group is led by Capt. Zoya Agarwal, who has already created a name for herself in the Indian aviation industry by being the youngest woman pilot to fly a Boeing-777 in 2013. She has also completed more than 8,000 flying hours in her career as a pilot so far.
Apart from her, the team comprises other accomplished women, including Capt. Papagari Thanmai, Capt. Akanksha Sonaware and Capt. Shivani Manhas. Additionally, Air India’s Executive of Flight Safety, Capt. Nivedita Bhasin will also be on board the flight.
A Big Push For Women In Aviation
On its own, the achievement is an immense drive for Indian aviation as it will be one of the longest commercial flights by any Indian airline. But more importantly, Air India is also paving the way for greater gender equality in a largely male-dominated field.
World over, there continues to be a lack of representation of women in the more technical side of the aviation industry. Only around 5% of pilots worldwide are women — a dismal number compared to their male counterparts.
The stereotyping stems from the belief that women are more suited for reception work or becoming air hostesses. At the same time, men are considered more suitable for flying and taking on managerial positions.
A significant reason for the lack of women entering this field is their unawareness of career prospects. There are not enough role models or mentors and, as a result, women do not apply for most positions. Aviation is certainly a field that has a long way to go in terms of achieving gender equality.
Remarkably, India has actually been a trailblazer in the industry and even has the highest number of female pilots in the world!
Indian airlines have consistently been introducing numerous policies to increase the number of women in the cockpit.
However, the percentage of these women pilots only make up 12.5% of the total number of Indian pilots. But this is not to discount the progress they have been making in the field.
Air India’s initiative to entrust an all-women team to take on this honourable venture is a definite step in the right direction for women pilots everywhere.
India should continue to work towards changing perceptions, creating records and paving the way for all aspiring women pilots!
Image Credits: Google Images
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