Monday, June 23, 2014

Yasmeen Muhammad Al-Maimani: Second Saudi woman gets pilot's license

JEDDAH – Yasmeen Muhammad Al-Maimani has become the second Saudi woman to obtain a commercial pilot license from the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA).

Hanadi Zakaria Al-Hindi was the first Saudi woman to become a commercial airline pilot, getting a license to fly within Saudi Arabia earlier this year.

Capt. Al-Maimani got the private pilot license in 2010 from Jordan.
“My dream is to fly an airplane in the Kingdom. I hope the Saudi Arabian Airlines gives me this chance now that I’ve been properly licensed by the GACA,” Al-Maimani said.

In 2010, Al-Maimani returned to the Kingdom and worked for Rabigh Wings Aviation Academy for a year. She got an offer later from Aerosim Flight Academy in US to be their ambassador to the Middle East. The academy also gave her a scholarship to study and obtain the auto commercial pilot license. She accepted the offer and traveled to Florida.

Later she returned to the Kingdom and worked for Nexus Company for flight operation services.

She passed the GACA examination.

Aviation industry is growing rapidly in the Middle East. With an expected delivery of 5,000 aircraft, in the coming years, many experts forecast a global shortage of pilots. Most of them believe that nearly twice as many pilots will be required in the next 15 years.

There are currently two flying academies in Saudi Arabia. Rabigh Wings Aviation Academy located in the Western Province in the northwest of Jeddah. It is close to the coast of Red Sea and minutes away from King Abdullah Economic city, and the Saudi Aviation Flight Academy (SAFA) located at the Thumamah Airport near King Khaled International Airport, Riyadh. Both academies provide training to their students and teach them to fly commercial airplanes, too.

The cost of obtaining a Commercial Pilot License (CPL) is approximately SR300,000. Some students believe that these fees are relatively higher than those of some flying academies abroad. However, training inside the Kingdom saves travel and accommodation costs apart from being close to trainees’ families and friends. For safety reasons major airlines require pilots to have at least flown 1500 to 2000 hours; they do not consider an applicant holding a Commercial Pilot License with only 300 hours of flying.

As soon as new pilots obtain their Commercial Pilot License they need to start building hours. This is usually done in a number of ways such as flying tourists around, doing air surveys for different organizations or becoming a flight instructor.

Pilots who have completed the stipulated required hours have more options, and major airlines feel comfortable in employing them.

So, with patience, persistence and determination, one can sit in the cockpit of an aircraft, which is by far the best office in the world.

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