Panama City, Aug 17 (EFE) – The Academia Latinoamericana de Aviación Superior (Latin American Aviation Academy in English), a non-profit entity of Panama’s Copa Airlines, celebrated 10 years of training commercial pilots in Panama on Thursday with the graduation of 72 new aviators and a commitment to have a greater presence of women in the industry.
“We have made an important commitment and we have tried to break paradigms (because) the aviation industry has also been stigmatized for many years as being only for men,” ALAS Managing Director Pedro Herrera told EFE.
Of the 72 Panamanian commercial pilots who graduated from ALAS on Thursday, 16 are women, and will directly work for Copa Airlines.
In the last 10 years, ALAS has trained 200 aviators from the Central American country, 22% of whom have been women and 78% men, according to Copa Airlines.
“In recent years, we have been breaking that concept to open the doors also to women so that they can demonstrate, under the same conditions, that they have the same capacity as men to become pilots and in general develop in the aeronautical industry,” he added.
According to data from the Panamanian airline, 10% of Copa Airlines pilots are women, one of the highest figures in the industry.
AVIATION, AN INDUSTRY ACCESSIBLE TO PANAMANIAN TALENT
According to Herrera, ALAS was established with the purpose of “supporting Panamanian talent and providing all the necessary tools” so that the evolution of professionals in the sector in the country “becomes more and more consolidated.”
“This is an exciting and different industry that generates a lot of interest. Over the years our work has been to raise awareness that it is an attainable industry,” he stressed.
In that sense, he emphasized that ALAS is an aviation academy that allows students to pursue a career at the highest international standards and at a cost below the industry average because it is a non-profit and partly subsidized by Copa Airlines.
“For many years it was always seen as very difficult to become a pilot and now our job is basically to let the candidates know that it is in their hands and it is achievable,” said the managing director of the prestigious academy.
To apply for ALAS you must be at least 19 years old, be a Panamanian national or naturalized, and have completed high school.
In addition, it is necessary to be fluent in English and pass the Civil Aeronautical Authority (CAA) tests for a first-class medical and psychological profile certificate.
Currently, ALAS has 84 students enrolled in the different phases of the program, 29% of whom are women. A total of 70 pilots are expected to graduate in 2024.
“Considering the growth projections of the airline industry in Panama, we estimate that approximately 180 pilots per year in the next 3 years will be needed,” the vice president of flight operations at Copa Airlines, Bolívar Domínguez, explained in a statement.