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Etihad Airways' first female Captain sets off on first flight

Sophie Blanchard, a 33 year old pilot from Lyon, France became the first woman captain for Etihad Airways and yesterday she left Abu Dhabi International Airport and took to the skies for her first flight in an Airbus A330-300 heading for London Heathrow.

Etihad Airways' first female Captain sets off on first flight

Etihad Airways saw their first woman pilot take off in her first flight on September 10 2010 in an Airbus A330-300 which departed from Abu Dhabi International Airport and headed to London Heathrow.

The 33-year old pilot, Sophie Blanchard, is from Lyon in France and a married mother of two. After 15 years of extensive aviation training, Sophie trained in the US for her commercial licence and later moved back to Europe to take up her first position as a pilot.

She then received her uniform's fourth stripe allowing her to take to the skies as a pilot. Sophie joined Etihad Airways in 2007 as a First Officer after spending time flying for Etihad Crystal Cargo and Air Atlanta.

Before taking off on the seven-hour-long Flight EY17 at 1.30pm, Blanchard said:

"It is a great privilege to become Etihad's first female captain and be the first woman to take full command of a commercial flight. The company has been very supportive in my aim to become a captain and I look forward to my first flight to London."

Etihad Airways has 10 female pilots and four female cadet pilots at present. The airline's Chief Operations officer, Captain Richard Hill, said: "We congratulate Sophie on becoming Etihad's first female captain."

Etihad Airways is an international airline which offers flights to the Middle East and destinations all across the globe.

Established since 2005, Etihad Airways has a fleet of 52 young and environmentally-friendly aircraft and has routes to 57 destinations across the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. The airline's headquarters are close to Abu Dhabi International Airport and include a state-of-the-art training academy and staff accommodation.

The Etihad Airways Terminal 3 opened at Abu Dhabi International Airport in February last year and is dedicated to the airline and expands the airport's capacity by 5 million visitors each year.

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