• 60 industry high fliers convene at Flybe Training Academy

  • Gender diversity the key to unlocking industry workforce shortages

  • Seminar highlighted UKs role in driving next generation of air travel

Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, recently hosted the first Women in Aviation & Aerospace (WiAA) Seminar of 2019 at its Training Academy in Exeter, which attracted over 60 high fliers representing many of the 80+ signatory organisations to the Charter that was launched last year at the Farnborough Airshow.

The WiAA Charter commits organisations to supporting the progression of women into senior roles by focusing on the career pipeline and opportunities. Reflecting this commitment, the seminar featured specialist presentations on the Government’s Aviation Strategy by Stephen Cummins, Director of Aviation Strategy at the Department for Transport; as well as those covering aviation skills and apprenticeships, a topical overview of the recently announced Aerospace Sector Deal, and an update on the progress of the Charter by WiAA co-Chair and Senior Vice President of Airbus UK, Katherine Bennett CBE.

Ms Bennett said: “The UK is at the forefront of driving the next generation of air travel through exciting new technologies and concepts including the electrification of flight, urban air mobility solutions and autonomous aviation.

“But if we want to capitalise on these opportunities, we need to both encourage more young women to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, and then inspire them to work in aerospace and aviation. Attracting young women into this brilliant sector is a top priority for us all.”

Flybe’s CEO, Christine Ourmières-Widener is one of the industry’s few female airline chiefs and one of only two women on the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) 32-member Board of Governors. As such, she is particularly passionate about matters of gender diversity.

The airline’s FlyShe project was of particular interest to the group as it addresses a number of underlying issues that need urgent attention.  When it was launched, Ms Ourmères-Widener commented: “What we need is a large and diverse pool of qualified candidates as well as a level playing field. This means it’s a case of hiring the best person for the job – at Flybe we have a many females appointed to senior positions and they were all appointed because they were the best candidate. It’s only by having a larger pool of qualified people to choose from, that our industries will be able to solve the worldwide shortages, especially in areas such as engineering and the pilot workforce.”