First UAE women pilots set to take off

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Dubai, Oct 28 (UNI) Salma Mohammad Al Baloushi and Aisha Hassan Al Mansouri are set to create history as they prepare to become the first female UAE national pilots to take to the skies.

Salma and Aisha are the first female pilot cadets to joint Etihad Airways' ''Emiratisation'' programme.

The duo, along with 10 male cadet pilots, are the second batch of Emiratis to join the Etihad flying programme launched last March.

''We are very proud to be representing the female population in the UAE,'' they said.

''I was studying to be a nurse, but something just didn't feel right. I didn't have a real passion for what I was doing and that made studying to become better hard work. It made me stop and look at life and I decided to follow my childhood dream of becoming a pilot. I am hard-working and have found a passion in life again,'' Salma was quoted by Gulf News as saying.

Aisha was inspired to become a pilot after a zero gravity experience at the Al Ain Airshow. ''I loved being up in the sky and knew instantly that I wanted to become a pilot. My family is so proud of what I am doing,'' she said.

''The Etihad Airways Emiratisation programme goes from strength to strength. It is fantastic news that two female students have qualified to join the programme. As the national airline of the UAE it is central to Etihad's development that we recruit mores Emiratis,'' Etihad Airways chief executive James Hogan said.

Salma and Aisha were chosen by Etihad following extensive assessments during July and August, which included comprehensive personality and English language tests as well as aptitude and medical examinations.

To complete the Etihad pilot programme and become a first officer co-pilot, a cadet must undertake 930 hours in the classroom and 205 hours of flying in single and multi-engine aircraft.


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