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More Pilots Needed: Airlines Turn to Diverse Crew

When you think of pilots, you often think of a white male with a cap and a uniform. Maybe Leonardo DiCaprio from Catch Me If You Can popped up in your head as well. We don’t blame you! Everybody knows that the aviation industry is male-dominated. As stated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at least 95% of the 158,000 pilots in the country are men. The industry itself is lacking in diversity, which is why airlines are looking to attract more people to be their pilots. 


Dana Donati, a former pilot with Republic Airways and the now CEO of United Aviate Academy, is looking to change the system. The aviation industry has historically excluded women and people of color from being employed as pilots. It’s about time this changed! With the shortage of pilots the country is experiencing right now, it’s time people started creating the next generation of pilots! And it’s always good to work with a diverse crew as this opens up new opportunities for everybody in the future. 


Did you know that black women represent less than 1 percent of the profession? That means there are only around 200 black women that are actively flying our planes. But it’s not surprising. Society hasn’t been too kind to people of color or women in general. If you add in flight costs, and generational and economic disadvantages as barriers and challenges to being a pilot, it’s understandable that women and people of color just can’t get a break. They don’t have the connections that their white male counterparts have. 


Other than the United Aviate Academy, commercial airlines such as Delta Airlines are also looking to attract more diverse people to join the profession. They’ve launched the Delta Propel Career Path Program, which offers an accelerated path to the flight deck for aspiring pilots across 13 universities in the country. 


The make-up of pilots has supposedly not changed in over 20 years, according to Dana Donati. Within those 20 years, a severe lack of representation when it comes to women and people of color has deterred many from actively pursuing their passion. This includes Abby Awosanya, a 25-year-old first-generation Nigerian American woman, who just got her private pilot license. She is now working towards a 787 captain role for United Airlines. According to Awosanya, she would’ve gotten involved in aviation sooner if she saw representation. Representation and diversity are no doubt important factors in modern-day American society. We hope in the future we’ll be seeing more women and people of color sitting in the cockpits and guiding us to the skies!

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