Etihad Airways Has First Female Captain


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Etihad Airways Has First Female Captain

By Jim Douglas

September 17, 2010 - Etihad Airways celebrated a 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 of an Airbus A330-200 for the first time on Wednesday September 8th for Flight EY17 from Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow. Etihad currently has 10 female pilots within its ranks and four female cadet pilots. 

Blanchard joined Etihad Airways in 2007 as a First Officer, after initially flying for Etihad Crystal Cargo with Air Atlanta. Since joining Etihad, Captain Blanchard has been able to complete the necessary training and pass 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.?

Captain Blanchard said: ?It is a great privilege to become Etihad?s first female Captain and be the first woman to take full command of a commercial flight. The company has been very supportive in my aim to become a Captain and I look forward to my first flight to London.? 

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. 

Etihad Airways is the flag carrier airline of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Etihad is the Arabic abbreviation for United Arab Emirates. Established in 2003, Etihad commenced operation on November later that year. The airline operates close to 147 daily flights to 64 destinations in 42 countries, via a fleet of 54 aircraft. Its operation is heavily centered in Europe and Asia, as well as Oceania, Africa and North America. Its main base is Abu Dhabi International Airport, with its head office in Khalifa City A, Abu Dhabi.


Apart from its core activity, passenger transportation, Etihad also earns revenue from its cargo operations and ancillary revenue. The airline has a cargo division called Etihad Crystal Cargo. In 2009, it carried more than seven million passengers, compared with 340,000 in its first full year of operations in 2004. Its revenue totaled US$2.3 billion. 

Captain, Sophie Blanchard shares the name of a French aviation pioneer Sophie Blanchard (25 March 1778 ? 6 July 1819) who was a French aeronaut and the wife of ballooning pioneer Jean-Pierre Blanchard. Blanchard was the first woman to work as a professional balloonist, and after her husband's death she continued ballooning, making more than 60 ascents.  

Known throughout Europe for her ballooning exploits, Blanchard entertained Napoleon Bonaparte, who promoted her to the role of "Aeronaut of the Official Festivals", replacing Andr?-Jacques Garnerin. On the restoration of the monarchy in 1814 she performed for Louis XVIII, who named her "Official Aeronaut of the Restoration".


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