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Thursday, September 9, 2010

ETIHAD PILOT QUALIFIES TO BECOME FIRST FEMALE CAPTAIN

Etihad Airways is celebrating the maiden commercial flight of its first female Captain, Sophie Blanchard.

Captain Blanchard, a French national, took the controls of the left hand seat in the flight deck for the first time yesterday on flight EY17 from Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow.

She joined Etihad in 2007 as a First Officer, after initially flying for Etihad Crystal Cargo with Air Atlanta. Since joining Etihad, Captain Blanchard completed the necessary training and passed the rigorous checks to gain her fourth stripe.

Captain Richard Hill, Etihad Airways' Chief Operations Officer, said: "We congratulate Sophie on becoming Etihad's first female Captain. It's a great achievement and well deserved as she has shown tremendous dedication to achieve the rank of Captain."

Etihad currently has 10 female pilots within its ranks and four female cadet pilots.

Captain Blanchard said: "The Company has been very supportive in my aim to become Etihad's first female Captain and the first woman to take full command of a commercial flight."

Captain Blanchard started her aviation training after graduating from high school. She gained her commercial license at 18 years old in the US and began flying cargo aircraft for a Belgium-based company.

Her work took her to Africa and around Europe before she joined Icelandic company Air Atlanta. At Air Atlanta Captain Blanchard began flying leased flights for Etihad Crystal Cargo. She has accrued more than 6,500 hours of flying time.

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