Ari Fuji Becomes Japan's First Female Captain Of A Commercial Airliner


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Ari Fuji Becomes Japan's First Female Captain Of A Commercial Airliner

By Mike Mitchell

July 12, 2010 - 42 year old Ari Fuji of Japan becomes the first women ever in the history of Japan to become a captain of a major commercial airliner. "Nobody, including myself, thought I would make it a reality," said Fuji who is currently a pilot with JAL Express a subsidiary of JAL.

On July 9th Captain Ari Fuji was presented with a pair of captain's epaulets with four gold stripes at a ceremony held at the Osaka headquarters of JAL Express Co.

Captain Fuji has passed the national captain's examination and has a total of 5,600 hours. On July 12th,   Captain Fuji will pilot an aircraft from Osaka International Airport (Itami Airport) to Sendai Airport, were she will make her first appearance as a captain, becoming the first woman in Japanese history to join some 3,800 male captains for regular domestic flights.

"There are only 10 female pilots in the JAL Group. I want to make this a place where women can work comfortably," said Fuji. "On the path to become a captain, there were countless times when I felt like giving up, but if you keep going and don't give up, it can be done. Now, with everyone's support, I'd like to pursue a career of safe flights."


Captain Fuji husband is a former co-worker and a captain for a Chinese airline, offers advice for women following their dreams "you can carve out your own path if you don't give up."

Captain Fuji dreamed of becoming a pilot ever since being a child. She attended and graduated from a University in Japan. In Japan, at that time there were no training programs for women to receive flight training. Upon graduation Captain Fuji, not willing to give up her dream, moved to the United States and began flight training at a flight school in the Los Angeles area were she was able to obtain the needed flight hours and pilot licenses.


Captain Fuji returned back to Japan, initially she was unable to gaining employment has a pilot and worked various job. However, with persistence she was accepted during JAL Express's first ever pilot recruitment drive open to outside applicants, and entered the company as a trainee in 1999.

JAL Express is a low-cost airline with its headquarters in the Osaka Sōgō Building on the grounds of Osaka International Airport and in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, Japan, and its main hub at Osaka International Airport. The airline also maintains Tokyo offices in the Japan Airlines Building in Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan. Its operations include scheduled and non-scheduled passenger services to eight regional destinations across Japan. In addition, the airline operates additional 15 destinations in Japan and two destinations in the People's Republic of China on behalf of Japan Airlines, under a wet-lease agreement. It has a fleet of 20 Boeing and McDonnell Douglas aircraft.

JAL Express is a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan's flag carrier, Japan Airlines and an affiliate member of the Oneworld alliance. The airline was founded on April 1, 1997, and began operations with a Boeing 737-400 on July 1, 1998. It celebrated its tenth anniversary of establishment and first flight in April 2007 and July 2008, respectively. The airline operated its first international flight in May 2009 and now flies to Hangzhou and Shanghai. In the fiscal year ended March 31, 1999, JAL Express, together with its sister airlines within the JAL Group, carried over 32 million passengers and over 1.1 million tons of cargo and mail.


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