Rabia of PIA made civil aviation history in Pakistan when in
2005 she became the first woman pilot to achieve the coveted
Captain's rating on the Fokker F27 in PIA's fleet.
greatly inspired and encouraged to become a pilot by her father,
a doctor, professor and surgeon whose passionate hobby was
flying. Ever since she was old enough to be his passenger he
would take her up in the Multan and Lahore Flying Club planes he
regularly flew locally and on long cross-country flights. She
joined the Lahore Flying Club in 1974, soloing there on a Cessna
172 when she was 17. By 1979 she had gained her Private and
Commercial Pilot's licences with Instrument Rating and qualified
also as Flying Instructor.
In 1980, she was selected by PIA but the induction and training
of her batch was put in abeyance.
Ayesha's long, remarkably patient journey to an airliner
cockpit. During the extended wait for the call from PIA to start
pilot training, she entered another hitherto-male-only field by
qualifying as one of the first female air traffic controllers in
Pakistan with the newly formed Civil Aviation Authority, working
at this post for a period at Lahore airport. During this while
she also got married; her husband is a civil engineer and they
have a son and a daughter.
Ayesha eventually received PIA's call in 1985 and started what
proved for her to be a short-lived training course
unfortunately: before its conclusion it was firmly decided by
the government that there was no place in Pakistani society for
women pilots! Although she was ranked 5th in her batch with a
high 88 percent marks PIA had to withdraw Ayesha, and fellow
trainee Maliha (see
here), from the course.
Undeterred, Ayesha moved to a ground job as Sales Promotion
Officer in PIA's marketing department.
Finally, in 1989 - during her 9 year wait, faith and
determination had made her keep all her licences and ratings
current - PIA again invited her to conclude her pilot training.
Fortunately, this time it concluded happily and in 1990 Ayesha
flew her maiden flight on Karachi–Pasni–Turbat–Karachi sector as a
qualified F27 First Officer. She graduated subsequently to
First Officer tenures totaling 6000 hours of flying experience,
starting in 1992 on the Boeing 737-300, then on the Airbus A300
in 1994, and in 1999 on the Boeing 747 "Jumbo" which she was the
first woman in Pakistan to fly. (Click
here to see Ayesha as First
Officer on various PIA aircraft types)
After 6 years as First Officer on the 747 Ayesha became
Pakistan's first woman airline captain, commanding her first
flight on the F27 Karachi-Turbat-Gwadar-Karachi route
on October 21, 2005.
On January 25, 2006, Ayesha made civil aviation history yet
again when she captained Pakistan's first scheduled passenger
flight PK-623 operated by an all-woman crew (see photos
below). On board under her command, were First Officer Sadia
Aziz and airhostesses Tauseef Ashraf and Shazia Kausar. The F27
flight carrying 40 passengers from Islamabad to Lahore received
wide coverage in the national and international media including
PTV, GEO, CNN and BBC.
current position, captain on the Boeing 737-300, makes her the
first woman captain of a jetliner in Pakistan. After
completing her under supervision hours, Ayesha operated her first
flight as Captain of Boeing 737-300 on February 10, 2008. The
history making jet flight was PK-340 & PK-341 on
Karachi-Faisalabad-Karachi route. (Click
here to see Ayesha as Boeing 737-300 Captain)
Ayesha was not
the only member of her family inspired by her late father
Professor Dr Masood Ahmed. Her brother Zafar Ahmed also became a
pilot and is a Boeing 737 Captain with PIA. Ayesha and Zafar are
the only brother-sister airline pilots in Pakistan