Our thanks to D for this. The captain’s comments appeared yesterday in the comments stream following a video about the gender pay gap – here. They echo comments made to me by a highly experienced commercial pilot recently. The man (‘Goofus’) writes:
As a long haul airline Captain, I read this bbc article on easyjet pay and my heart sank. The idea that more women being hired as pilots and presumably more men being hired as cabin crew is somehow the answer to this illusory problem in the modern world is complete madness. Whilst I have flown with some very competent female pilots in my time (and I take my hat off to them for choosing to work in a very male environment) I have also flown with quite a large proportion of them that have been well below par. Call me bigoted or misogynist or whatever else you like but that is my sincere personal experience. Being generally fond of women I have found myself quietly willing them to do well on an approach to land. Another bounced and hard landing later nothing is said and we move on to park the aircraft. They tend to be very pleasant to work with and are more cooperative than some of my male colleagues have been but that doesn’t really compensate for ability. As long as the autopilot is engaged they have been great colleagues to work with. However, when the autopilot is not engaged and some spatial work is required to fly the aircraft things have not always gone so well in my experience. That’s not to say that there haven’t been male colleagues who have been as poor at handling an aircraft but it does seem in my humble opinion to be a common denominator in the female group. Given how low their overall representation in the flying community is and that they are already currently being “given a pass” in the simulator where a male colleague would be given a serious bollocking or failed, I can’t understand why anyone with an ounce of sanity would set hiring targets of 20%. Surely the current regime of hiring those with the best ability is the best course of action for a safety critical industry. Flying is a competitive game and many of the young pilots that graduate don’t get jobs because they are actually not good enough to fly commercially. Skewing the hiring requirements to being 20% female will mean all female pilots will be hired and they will still be short. It will have the inevitable consequence of reducing the safety on board a commercial flight. I hold my head in my hands at this thought.