The following figure deserves a prize: thirteen percent of cargo carrier AeroLogic’s around 200 members comprising cockpit personnel are female pilots. This record breaking rate promotes a positive working climate, as the women’s male colleagues confirm.
“The Triple Seven freighter is a beautiful aircraft. A plane that’s rather easy to understand and to maneuver. She’s a good girl,” praises Janina Selbach the Boeing variant while sitting in the right hand cockpit seat of AeroLogic flight 510 from Leipzig/Halle bound to Hong Kong. Her answer incidentally shows: not only is the number of female pilots slowly increasing, at least within European and North American Airlines, but even aircraft are personalized as “she” and not “he”. When planning her professional career Janina first opted for becoming an air traffic controller but after completion of tests she changed her mind and decided to scrap this plan and become a pilot instead.
Compared to First Officer Janina her colleague Monika Nieslony, although still young on years, too, is an ‘old stager’ in this industry. Prior to joining AeroLogic Monika sat in the cockpits of Airbus A320 passenger jets and Boeing 737s of Swiss leisure airline Belair and its German parent Air Berlin. “Particularly at Air Berlin I felt quite comfortable, but AeroLogic is the better and more promising option,” the Senior First Officer says.
What makes this cargo carrier so attractive for female cockpit applicants?
It’s a number of factors, says Head of Flight Ops, Joe Moser.
“In contrast to regional carriers we deploy our fleet comprised of eight Triple Seven freighters solely on long-haul routes, including quite some attractive destinations like Hong Kong, Singapore, Chicago or Shanghai, to pick just a few names out of our wide ranging global network,” he states.
Secondly it is the career opportunities offered by the airline that launched its maiden flight only five years ago – in June of 2009 – to both its flying and ground personnel. So newcomer
AeroLogic, although operationally and commercially well-established meanwhile is still in a sort of build-up phase. “This means that we enable crew members to climb up the career ladder faster
than they could when sitting in the cockpits of most of the well-established carriers,” Joe compares.
Of importance is also a third aspect – the financial and operational security. Since AeroLogic is a 50/50 joint venture of DHL Express and Lufthansa Cargo and part of both parents’ operational flight patterns there is little risk the airline might just vanish from the sky and bite the dust one day, a fate many other ill-financed all-cargo carriers had suffered lately.
Finally, AeroLogic applies an equal opportunity policy, and attractive part time contracts offered allowing for developing pilot’s careers while also enjoying family life.
“Unlike Belair with their many pilots that learned their profession at the Swiss Air Force before switching over to a commercial carrier, here at AeroLogic there is no macho culture at all,” emphasizes Monika. “I’m really happy to be a member of our team,” she says. “It was always my desire to fly long-distance routes,” she confesses, which at Belair or Air Berlin was nearly impossible due to their mainly short and medium-haul networks.
Women in cockpits also have an educational effect, she stresses: the galleys are kept cleaner, so are all other facilities on board the aircraft. “Both male and female colleagues make increased efforts to interact in a respectful and considerate manner.” This is confirmed by Captain Carsten Bredlau. “The world we are in as pilots is highly standardized and technically driven. If this environment appeals to women who perform their job in a professional manner it enriches the climate. This I really appreciate, but the fun stops if a female colleague would start decorating the cockpit,” Carsten draws his personal line.
Female cockpit members often provide creative proposals
He concedes that female pilots often have the better ideas what to jointly do as crew at some of the destinations in between two flights. “They often come up with attractive suggestions where to go and what to visit, whereas we males are mostly interesting in having a tasty meal and watch soccer or other sports on TV.” How much Carsten appreciates working for the airline illustrates this statement given to CFG: “I really would like to stay at AeroLogic until retirement.”
Besides flying the carrier’s freighters from A to B the crews have a common interest, no matter if male or female. Explains Captain Bredlau: “We are totally committed to support our carrier’s policy converted into operational procedures. So we add our expertise to make management decisions happen.” Meanwhile, Aerologic staff can take advantage of a unique computer assisted system that echoes the views of the employees, contributing to goal oriented and efficient decision making.
AeroLogic seems to be quite successful with its existing staff policy, based on trust and mutual consent. This is shown by above average retaining of staff and high employee satisfaction.