Woman Makes History as Kenya Airways' First Ever Female Pilot of a 787 Aircraft

Captain Irene Mutungi

Women hold relatively few senior positions in the air transport industry. However, Captain Irene Mutungi has been proving herself as an aviation pioneer, becoming the first female pilot for Kenya Airways in 1995 and now becoming the first African woman to fly as a captain aboard a 787 aircraft.

According to the previously mentioned article, Capt. Mutungi was interviewed on her experience as a woman in a male-dominated career path. Mutungi shares that she started her training at 17 years old and now is qualified to fly nine different models of aircraft.

Mutungi also mentions the significance of flying a 787. She says, "In 2014...I was promoted to captain. The Dreamliner is the most sophisticated commercial airliner on the market right now. Due to technological innovations, a lot of the workload is reduced compared to other aircraft." Mutungi has met other challenges in her field, though.

On one occasion, a passenger even refused to board a plane she was piloting. Mutungi recalls, "I was very surprised. The captain I was with then asked the staff to offload him. Since he really wanted to travel, he had to apologize to me first." She then added that there have also been times when passengers have wanted to meet her, simply because she had become an inspiration to them.

When asked how she feels about achieving so many new records in her career, Mutungi answers, "I consider myself a role model for young women and men as well. As a mother of boys, I’m all for empowering women, but let’s not forget the next generation of boys. I go out and give talks at schools and aviation clubs as part of what I consider my mentorship responsibility to the youth. It is very fulfilling."

She concludes the interview by stating: "I would definitely encourage more young women to consider careers in the aviation industry."