When civil aviation began, pilots were recruited from the ranks of military aviators. Some of them had considerable experience with aerial combat, and they were highly valued by the airlines during that nascent period.
Since then, aviation has been seen as a macho profession, an endeavor to be pursued by men only. Even today, women represent only a meager 3% of the 290,000 aircraft pilots worldwide, but that could be about to change.
Bhanu Choudhrie has been deeply involved with the aviation industry since founding the Philippine-based Alpha Aviation Group (AAG) 13 years ago. During that time the flight school has trained 900 pilots from several different countries around the world. If the current corps of cadets is an indication, the percentage of female pilots may be about to take an enormous leap.
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Upon visiting AAG’s campus 50 miles outside of Manila in Pampanga province you would notice that 1 in five of the students is female. Bhanu Choudhrie suggests that this is a sign of things to come. The reason being, there just are not enough men to fill in all the slots for new pilots that are opening up.
These opportunities for women are more a response to the severe demand for new pilots coming from the aviation industry. Although societal views on gender and occupation are gradually shifting as well.
Boeing recently predicted that worldwide the commercial aviation industry will need 645,000 additional pilots. Bhanu Choudhrie feels the aviation industry can not possibly continue growing at its current rate without women joining the profession.
To that end, AAG has initiated a recruitment campaign focused on attracting more female students. The steadily increasing enrollment of female cadets is attributed to these efforts.
Due to the boom in air traffic, AAG’s airline partners in the Asia-Pacific region have been working very closely with the flight school to ensure that they will have access to a steady flow of newly graduated AAG pilots.
Female aviators in the Asia-Pacific region are about to witness a golden age. Attracting more women to the cockpit is the smartest way to keep the regional airlines flying, according to Bhanu Choudhrie.