At 15%, India has most number of female pilots in the world


India’s airline regulatory body has shared the latest statistics on strength of pilots in India. As per the latest data, 15% of the pilots in the country are women. According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), this is three times the global average of 5%. However, there is no special programme to encourage pilot training for women, SC, and ST communities.

A total of 244 pilots have been recruited in 2021 as per the data received from various Indian scheduled airlines. And, estimates suggest that India may require 1,000 pilots per annum over the next five years.

Further, the data mentioned that there are approximately 10,000 pilots including 67 foreign nationals working with various domestic airlines in India, DGCA added.

Last year, the International Society of Women Airline Pilots also released gender equality in the airline industry in 2021. The report noted that at 12.4% (in 2021) India ranked top in gender equality at the flight deck, followed by Ireland (9.9%), South Africa (9.8%), Australia (7.5%), Canada (7%), Germany (6.9%), USA (5.5%), UK (4.7%), New Zealand (4.5%), Scandinavia (3.8%), Qatar (2.4%), Japan (1.3%) and Singapore (1%), respectively.

In 1989, Nivedita Bhasin became the youngest commercial airline captain in the world. The Indian Air Force began recruiting women pilots for helicopters and transport aircraft back in the 1990s.

A study called Gender Differences In General Aviation Crashes, which assessed airplane and helicopter crash data between 1983 and 1997 found that crash rates for male pilots exceeded that of women. Another study by Women in Combat Arms: A Study of the Global War on Terror, compared the accident rates of men and female pilots from 2002 to 2013. The study also pointed that women operate aircraft “more safely” accounting for only 3% of accidents even as they constituted 10% of all US army helicopter pilots.

Several airlines in India have devised policies to retain female talent. For instance, IndiGo offers flexibility to women pilots and crew to continue working safely, excluding flying duties, during pregnancy. It gives 26 weeks of paid maternity leave that is required under law and also offers creches for childcare. Women pilots can opt for a flexible contract with two weeks leave in a calendar month, until a child is 5 years old.

Vistara offers pregnant pilots and cabin crew the option of temporary jobs on the ground or administrative roles until they are ready to