Mathematics and management may have little to do with the mechanics of a
commercial airliner, or does it? Two aspiring young women have found out as
they challenge the status-quo, to become commercial pilots with SriLankan Airlines.While most opt to find employment in their academic background, two
women with high academic qualifications backing them, recently received
their wings as junior first officers from the national carrier,
SriLankan Airlines, making them only the second and third female pilots
of Sri Lanka.
Chamika Rupasinghe’s and Roshani Jinasena’s entry into commercial
aviation also signifies SriLankan Airlines’ efforts to attract
individuals with high academic qualifications.
Ms. Rupasinghe, a Graduate of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura and
a final year Chartered Institute of Management (CIMA) student, recalls
being laughed at when she was about ten years old, for her ambition to
Ms Rupasinghe joined the SriLankan Airlines’ family back in February
2000 as a stewardess hoping to one day pursue her dream.
Ms. Roshani Jinasena meanwhile, has a BSc Honours in Business Management
from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom.
Getting her private pilot’s licence at 17 while awaiting her Ordinary
Level results, Ms. Jinasena said she then knew that flying a commercial
airliner was to be her future.
Both women said they had to overcome a number of hurdles, starting at
home, in convincing their parents to let them pursue their ambition.
A considerable number of parents view aviation as a full time vocation
that would interfere in the family life of a young woman.
On the job acceptance among male peers was another challenge along with
learning the entire technical aspect of aviation and the quick
analytical judgement required of a pilot.
While the profession is not for the faint hearted, the two women pilots
said is was a great feeling to be flying above the clouds.
SriLankan Airlines has continually fostered an open work culture,
allowing aspiring individuals to pursue any career they desire. But the
individuals have the arduous task of standing up to the challenge in the
SriLankan Airlines’ Chief Pilot A320 Navin de Silva said, “it is
encouraging to note that women with very high academic qualifications
are choosing to be pilots when they have a myriad of other, less
“We are hopeful that more women will consider becoming pilots and even
more parents would better understand the vocation.”
A team of 203 local and expatriate pilots currently fly SriLankan
Airlines’ all Airbus fleet and are some of the most experienced pilots
in the world.
SriLankan Airlines encourages and supports staff to take on new
initiatives and challenge themselves in new roles within the airline.