Flying start for Captain Blanchard

ABU DHABI — Etihad Airways celebrated the maiden commercial flight of its first female Captain Sophie Blanchard as she took the controls of the left hand seat in the flight deck for the first time on Wednesday, flying the EY17 from Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow.

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Published: Thu 9 Sep 2010, 11:44 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 11:48 AM

She joined Etihad in 2007 as a First Officer after flying Etihad Crystal Cargo aircraft for Air Atlanta. Since joining Etihad, Captain Blanchard has been able to complete the necessary training and pass the rigorous tests to gain her fourth stripe.

Captain Richard Hill, Etihad Airways’ Chief Operations Officer, congratulated Sophie on becoming Etihad’s first female Captain. “It’s a great achievement and well deserved,” he said. Etihad currently has 10 female pilots within its ranks and four female cadet pilots. “It is a great privilege,” Captain Blanchard said. She said Etihad Airways has been very supportive in her aim to become a Captain.

Captain Blanchard started her aviation training after graduating from high school. She gained her commercial licence in the US at the age of 18 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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