India Graduating Record Numbers Of Female Pilots


Women now make up about 14% of airline pilots in India, more than twice the world average, and the total is growing at a record pace. The Directorate General for Civil Aviation reported that 18% (292) of the 1,622 commercial pilots certificated were women and it expects that trend to continue. That was a jump of 22% over the previous year. “This is the second consecutive year where the number of licenses issued a decade high,” the DCGA said in a statement.

India has previously relied on offshore training in Europe and North America to fill the flight decks of its growing airliner fleet but has, in the past few years, prioritized home-based training. The number of new commercial pilots graduated this year was more than double that of 10 years ago and the female share of that total has tripled. It’s still nowhere near enough with India leading airline growth in the world. Its airlines have more than 1,600 aircraft on order, and the country is actively promoting aviation as a career to young people.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. That’s an interesting phenomenon. I wonder why a higher proportion (apparently) of Indian women are more interested in aviation careers than American women. With a population of almost 1.5.billion, I would certainly expect more female Indian pilots, but the percentages I find curious. Has any investigation of that issue been explored?

  2. Hooray for the women! I thik it’s makes good sense to use ALL of a country’s talent and not restrict opportunity for things well beyomd an indcivual’s control and has no bearing on one’s competence. The best pilots I ever flew with, proportionately, were women. Sorry guys.

  3. The Indian women I know integrate intuition with highly analytical thinking and are extremely quick thinkers. Not every person may exhibit these qualities but the ones I know would make very good pilots.

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  5. Well, certainly there are unique medical and mental differences that do affect women. Since we are investigating controller fatigue then we also should study the long term performance of women over time. They do have a much larger variation in medical conditions that can and do affect physiological performance as well as overall health.

    • Oh, what breathtaking nonsense. Arthur, I think your premise was all the rage sometime around 1640, but modern outcomes research clearly shows that in professional occupations, women perform, day in day out, as well, or in many case, better than men, despite their “unique medical and mental differences”. And, very often, this occurs while fighting headwinds thrown up by the men around them.

  6. Promote the career to everyone, but do so honestly. There are good and bad aspects to every job, but the seniority nature of airline flying demands an educated and informed choice be made very early on.