Trailblazing female Emirati pilot hopes career will take off
SHARJAH // When Ghada Al Rousi takes her position on the flight deck as second officer with Air Arabia on Sunday she will achieve a personal dream and become an inspiration to other Emirati women.
As the first local woman to graduate from the Alpha Aviation School at Sharjah International Airport, Ms Al Rousi is hoping her new career will one day lead her into the captain’s seat of a commercial airliner.
The Alpha Aviation programme is the largest school in the region that trains for the Multi-crew Pilot Licence (MPL), and despite training more than 100 pilots who are now flying routes with Air Arabia on the Airbus 320, Ms Al Rousi is the first female Emirati graduate.
“I was 18 when I had this project in my head of learning to fly,” said Ms Al Rousi, from Sharjah.
“My family was happy but my mother was worried about me flying on my own. She is more relaxed now.”
Ms Al Rousi chose the programme ahead of government-sponsored training for nationals with Emirates and Etihad as she said there was more opportunity to achieve the flying hours necessary to graduate through the ranks.
She will need to fly a minimum of 1,500 hours as a second officer to step up, and then a further 5,000 hours as first officer to become captain.
“I did not want to use my nationality to fast-track on to a government programme with Emirates or Etihad,” said Ms Al Rousi.
“As a woman, I have been asked why I have chosen to learn to fly? I do not want to just stay at home and cook for a husband.”
It takes between 18 and 20 months to complete the initial training before pilots can register their flying hours. The process costs Dh570,000 and pilots in training must be self-funded.
Victor Brandão, general manager at Alpha Aviation Academy UAE, is a former military pilot from Portugal.
He said that learning to become a pilot is about more than just attending flight school and getting behind the controls. “We don’t just want them to memorise the skills, we want them to understand why they need to use their skills,” he said.
“We do not see many Emirati ladies who want to become a pilot so Ghada should be an inspiration to others.”
Updated: November 21, 2015 04:00 AM