Training provider CAE revealed the names of its first three Women in Flight scholarship winners on Tuesday at the Paris Air Show. CAE launched the Women in Flight program in December, committing to spending the money and resources needed to help encourage more women to join the pilot ranks by becoming role models and influencers for potential future female pilots.
The scholarship program is for five pilots every year, and CAE (Chalet 62) is paying the full cost of the winners’ flight training and also helping arrange airline flying jobs for each winner. Known as Women in Flight ambassadors, the winners will help drive awareness and promote the pilot profession among women and increase diversity in aviation.
“This ground-breaking scholarship program is a catalyst for more diversity in the cockpit, and we congratulate the winners as they pave the way for a new generation of pilots,” said Nick Leontidis, CAE group president, civil aviation training solutions. “It’s only five women, but the point is that we will create five ambassadors to the profession that will be followed over the course of their career.”
Over the next decade, the aviation industry will need more than 300,000 new pilots. As women currently represent less than 5 percent of airline pilots, CAE’s scholarship program is a proactive step to promote a better gender balance and inspire a new generation of professional pilots.
The women welcomed into the scholarship program are Georgina Thomas-Watson, Generation easyJet Cadet program; Daniella Saucedo Orozco, Aeromexico Cadet program winner; and Bisma Petafi, winner of the CityJet Climb High Mentored Cadet program.
When asked about their passion for aviation, each had a different response. Thomas-Watson discussed her desire to be a role model for her kids, even saying that she convinced her daughter to call her “‘super mommy’ because I’m learning how to fly.” Saucedo Orozco found her passion when she discovered her love for aviation, including that “gender is no limit—our limit is the sky.” Bisma said that the pilot profession is incredibly unique and that the satisfaction she receives from flying “is different from any career that I can possibly pursue.”
CAE showed a video of a Skype call as each of the three were told that they had won, and the women were all genuinely delighted and touched by their selection.
The company is awarding five total scholarships; the remaining two, for the Air Asia Cadet Pilot and the American Airline Cadet Academy programs, will be announced later this year.
The scholarship program is just one part of CAE’s efforts to grow the pilot population. It not only trains pilots from zero to commercial airline-ready, but also offers pilot, technician, and cabin crew recruiting and leasing services for airlines.
According to Leontidis, CAE is putting to work the data that it gathers during training and from its close ties with airline customers. Training programs “can be made more efficient and more effective through data,” he said. “If you look at the whole life cycle of the pilots, from starting to being on the line, we see there's a lot of opportunities for leveraging data and analytics and to make that training journey more efficient.”
CAE also announced at the Paris Air Show that it extended its pilot and cabin crew training contracts with SAS and with Air Europa for five years.