EasyJet is starting a free summer flight school in a bid to dispel misconceptions about pilot and cabin crew jobs and inspire more young people to consider a career in aviation.
The initiative enables children aged seven to 12 to take the controls of an Airbus A320 flight simulator, learn what it takes to provide in-flight service to passengers and find out from pilots and cabin crew about their jobs and how they got there.
The flight school is being run from August 21 at the budget airline’s Gatwick training centre.
The scheme, designed to combat persistent gender stereotypes, comes as new research found that four in ten children (37%) believe that a pilot is a job exclusively for men.
The poll of 2,000 British parents and their children found that two thirds (66%) still believe there are misconceptions that being a pilot is a job for men rather than women and that most parents (86%) believe that gender stereotypes of jobs start at primary school age.
Almost three quarters (72%) of female adult respondents said that when they were a child, they believed only men could be pilots, while nearly two thirds of men (63%) said they never considered a role as cabin crew due to their gender.
Now, more than two thirds (68%) of girls surveyed said that they believed both boys and girls could be a pilot, indicating a positive shift in attitudes compared to the previous generation.
However, with 28% of boys still believe that cabin crew is exclusively a job for women and the same proportion of girls think being a pilot is a role just for boys.
The airline has been focused on tackling the industry-wide gender imbalance for a number of years, with still around only 6% of pilots worldwide being women, and has nearly tripled the number of female pilots in its ranks since 2015.
Easyjet chief people officer Jane Storm said:“We’re delighted to be taking families behind the scenes with our new Summer Flight School, not only to offer a unique and exciting day out during the school holidays, but also one we hope will inspire the next generation of pilots and cabin crew, showing young people that their aspirations don’t have to be limited by outdated stereotypes and help broaden their horizons.
“Increasing diversity in all of its forms across our airline and creating an inclusive environment where people can be themselves at work is incredibly important to us and is a long-term focus for easyJet, so we will continue to lead the industry on this issue.”
Training Captain Kate West added: “At school I was told that being a pilot wasn’t a suitable career option for me, so I know from first-hand experience how important it is to challenge these misconceptions, which we know can start from a young age.
“Role models and awareness of our jobs as pilots and crew are such an important part of this and so I’m delighted that our Summer School will give children that opportunity this summer – even their first taste of flying an aircraft.”