Virgin Australia says more than half of those selected for the latest intake of its pilot cadetship program are female for the first time.
The airline said on Friday 56 per cent of recruits that passed the rigorous 13-week recruitment process that involved skills-based and academic testing were women. This was above the 50 per cent target the company had set and a 200 per cent increase on the previous intake.
Virgin Australia director of group flight operations Stuart Aggs said he was “incredibly impressed with the strength of the applicants for this year’s program”.
“We received more applications than ever before which has allowed us to select the best individuals for our next cadetship,” Aggs said in a statement.
“At the end of the day, the selection process is merit based, and the application and assessment process sets a necessarily very high standard.
“Candidates are exposed to screening and panel interviews, abilities testing, personality profiling, computer based learning and examination, and reference checks. We also look at cultural fit, motivation, passion, and community involvement.”
The recruits will undertake their pilot cadetship at Flight Training Adelaide in South Australia in a 54-week course. The airline had said previously there would two ab initio courses, which is designed for those without any previous flying experience, starting in January and July 2019.
Those who successfully completed the course would graduate with a commercial pilot licence and offered roles as first and second officers with the airline, typically on the Boeing 777-300ER or ATR 72-600 turboprop fleet.
Virgin Australia group executive for people Lucinda Gemmell said the airline was committed to increasing “gender diversity across all areas of our business and in particular the non-traditional roles of aviation”.
“Both the young men and women who have been accepted into the next program are all extremely passionate, talented individuals and we are very much looking forward to welcoming them all into the Virgin Australia family,” Gemmell said.
“The future looks bright for this next generation of pilots, and we’re excited to have the opportunity to play a part in the development of this promising group of cadets and welcome them to what is a very exciting industry.”
Globally, estimates put the number of female pilots at about three per cent.
The push to broaden the potential pool of aviators for the next generation is reflected in the Boeing 2018-2037 Pilot and Technician Outlook, published in July 2018, which showed a need for 790,000 new pilots, 754,000 airline maintenance technicians and 890,000 new cabin crew members around the world over the next two decades.
Meanwhile, an industry report published in July concluded urgent action was needed if Australia’s aviation industry was to avoid disruptions due to the shortage of pilots and skilled maintenance engineers.
“Australia is experiencing a severe shortage of aviation personnel and the situation is growing worse,” the report published on July 27 stated.
While this latest batch of recruits will be based at Flight Training Adelaide, future Virgin Australia cadets will likely conduct their training at the airline’s recently announced pilot training centre in Tamworth.
It was announced recently Virgin Australia had been selected by the Tamworth Regional Council to establish the flight school.
No start date for the facility was given, with negotiations ongoing between Virgin Australia and the Council on the details of the proposed facility.
VIDEO: A look at the Virgin Australia pilot cadetship program from Virgin Australia’s YouTube channel.
The August 2018 edition of Australian Aviation magazine included a profile of Virgin Australia cadet pilot James Skordas. That story can be read here.