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Women-Only Crew Pilots Ethiopian Air Flight


Ethiopian Airlines female crew members just took part in an all-female staffed flight to Thailand.

Ethiopian Airlines female crew members just took part in an all-female staffed flight to Thailand.


Ethiopian Airlines made history Wednesday night by sending an all-female crew on a flight from Addis Ababa to Bangkok, Thailand.

The flight was the first in the 70-year history of the airline in which the whole crew was female. And that was not just the pilots: It included maintenance crew members and air traffic controllers.

Females also staffed cabin, ramp and airport operations, as well as onboard logistics, air safety and security jobs.

Ethiopian Airlines employee Haymanot Endale is a cabin maintenance technician. She says many women work as flight attendants. But as a technician, she says, she mostly works with men.

The airline wanted to diversify and show the world the important jobs African women now hold.

Ethiopian Airlines says about one-third of its employees are women.

But the number of female pilots is still below 10 percent. Just over five percent of all commercial airline pilots in 2010 were women, says the website Women of Aviation Week.

In 1973, American Airlines was the first airline to hire a female pilot.

As for the first all-female crew, a number of airlines make that claim. A British Air Ferries shuttle from Great Britain to Germany in 1977 had all women in the cockpit. Indian Airlines claimed the first all-female crew on January 15, 1986.

But exclusively female crews are becoming common in Africa. Air Zimbabwe sent an all-women crew to the skies last week.

Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s most profitable airline.

I’m Caty Weaver.

Jim Dresbach adapted it for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

cabin – n. the part of an airplane in which the passengers sit

ramp– n. a piece of equipment with a slope that is used to join two surfaces that are at different levels or heights

diversify - v. to change something so that it has more different kinds of people or things

logistics – n. the things that must be done to plan and organize a complicated activity or event that involves many people

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