in Aviation

EasyJet takes to the air with all-female flight and ground crew

Posted 8 March 2017 · Add Comment

EasyJet, Europe's leading airline, today flew a special flight operated by an all-female crew.



EZY8275 left London Gatwick this morning bound for Madrid with a female Captain, First Officer and four female cabin crew. Additionally, a large proportion of the ground staff at London Gatwick Airport responsible for boarding the plane and getting it off the ground were also female.

The flight was captained by Kate McWilliams, 27, the world’s youngest female commercial Captain and co-piloted by first officer Sue Barrett. Cabin Manager Laura Marks was supported by three female cabin crew; Natasha Baker, Charlotte Carr and Nuria Belda Marco.

The flight was operated on easyJet’s special A320 aircraft named after renowned female aviator Amy Johnson.

Several female ground staff were also involved in getting the easyJet flight boarded and away from stand including:

  • Gate Agents Helena Curley and Ewa Alhutayfi – performing Boarding checks and procedures for each flight and pass final customer figures to the TCO and Captain.
  • TCO (Turn Coordination Officer) Lynne Pont - responsible for the turnaround of the aircraft itself
  • Headset Operator Catherine Sims - responsible for the safety of the aircraft during the pushback from stand onto the taxiway and in direct communication with the flight crew and Pushback Tug driver.
  • Fueler Lucy Gorna - responsible for ensuring that the correct fuel is safely loaded onto the aircraft and in accordance with the figure requested by the Captain.
  • Cleaners Laura Heron, Emese Lenkey, Sheila Monteith, Marie Claire Lynx and Alison Seth- responsible for ensuring that each aircraft is cleaned internally
  • De-Icers Maria Carr and Bethany Woods - When required, responsible for ensuring that the critical surfaces of the aircraft are clear of contamination such as snow & ice, prior to departure.

PRM Officer Kirsty Butler– When required, responsible for assisting all of our customers with reduced mobility from their arrival at the airport, until they are on board the aircraft. This includes use of motorised buggies, and scissor-lift vehicles to access the cabin.

Speaking prior to departure easyJet Captain Kate McWilliams, said: “International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the achievements of women so we thought this all female flight would be a very fitting way to celebrate the achievements of the many women working in the aviation industry. There are more than 15 women who are making this flight possible today in positions from pilots and crew to gate agents and fuelers. 

“This year’s IWD theme is #BeBoldForChange to help forge a better working world which is more inclusive and gender equal. This year easyJet has set an ambitious target of increasing the proportion of its female pilots aiming for 20% of new intake pilots by 2020. The aviation industry is exciting and challenging and I firmly believe that there should be absolutely nothing to stop women from entering into a career in aviation.

“The first woman to fly an airplane solo took off in 1908, only 5 years after the Wright brothers first took to the skies and most people will have heard of Amelia Earhart and Amy Johnson who are famous pioneers of the 1920s and 1930's. Women have been involved in aviation's history from very early on but since the war years whilst the total number of female pilots has steadily increased so has the number of male pilots, leaving the total percentage of female pilots largely unchanged at around 3%. It is hard to think of another high profile profession where women are so under-represented so I would encourage anyone thinking about a career in aviation to do so – it’s the most rewarding career I could hope for.”

International Women's Day global campaign coordinator, Glenda Stone, said "easyJet is to be applauded for the way they have truly embraced the very ethos of International Women's Day and are showing not only to their customers and industry, but to wider audiences, that women excel when there are no barriers to participation or involvement. International Women's Day provides an important opportunity to accelerate gender parity, and here we clearly see the collective talent of women that inspires employees, customers, aspirational girls and many more."

Around 12% of Gatwick’s airfield team are women and Hayley Richardson, Airfield Operations Controller, was on hand to help guide the easyJet aircraft on the tarmac today.   Hayley said: “Working on Gatwick’s airfield is an exciting and rewarding job.  For obvious reasons our team has to maintain the highest professional standards and I really enjoy the responsibility.  I’d say the number of women I see working in other roles across the airfield is increasing and I would recommend a career on an airfield to any women who are thinking about it.”

The activity is also being promoted on easyJet’s social media sites using a Female Pilot Emoji and  #FlyingHigh.

In the year ending September 2015, women made up 6% of easyJet’s new pilot intake and 5% of its total pilot community. In October 2015 easyJet launched its Amy Johnson Flying Initiative with the aim of doubling the number of female new entrant pilots to 12% over two years.  The initiative was really successful with over 600 applicants and so easyJet was able to achieve the 12% target in year one. These women have either started to fly with easyJet or are assigned to courses due to start in the coming weeks.

In light of the airline achieving its first target a new target of 20% female new entrant cadet pilots by 2020 has been set.  This means that easyJet will be recruiting around 50 pilots annually which will really start to change the face of the industry. This is a long term strategy, which is hoped will eventually lead to easyJet recruiting, retaining and developing many more female pilots.
 

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