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Wednesday, September 08, 2010



Etihad Airways is celebrating the maiden commercial flight of Sophie Blanchard, its first female Captain.

Captain Blanchard, a French national, will take the controls of the left hand seat in the flight deck for the first time today for flight EY17 from Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow.

She joined Etihad 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.”

Etihad currently has 10 female pilots within its ranks, and four female cadet pilots.

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.”

She began aviation training after graduating from high school. She gained her commercial license at 18 years old in the U.S., 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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