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SAA Appoints First Black Female Pilot Trainee

Asnath Mahapa, 23, is the first black woman beneficiary of SAA’s level two cadet pilot training programme and recipient of the airline’s bursary scheme set aside for previously disadvantaged communities.
Mahapa from Ga-Matlala in Limpopo will start her training at a flight training school in South Africa on 1 February. Her internship will be with South African Express, a feeder airline and an alliance partner of SAA.

Mahapa already has a commercial pilot license she obtained from the South African Air Force. She will join the SAA’s Cadet Pilot Training Programme Level Two, that caters for previously disadvantaged individuals who could not fulfil the requirements as direct entry pilots.

Mahapa joins SAA from South African Air Force where she spent two years at the Force’s ground school. She accumulated 240 hours of flying and underwent the Force’s military training.

She is from a family of three sisters. Her interest in flying started when she was 13 years old living with her aunt in Midrand. “One of my aunt’s neighbours was a pilot and she often spoke about him. I never met him, but started reading magazines about flying. I am eternally grateful to my aunt for sparking the interest,” Mahapa said.

“Not many people get this opportunity and I am honoured to be chosen”


“The airline is very proud of Asnath’s achievements and has the strongest confidence in her abilities and future prospects. We wish her luck in her training, her internship and the future,” said Andre Viljoen, SAA President and CEO.

She would need to complete her Airline Transport Pilot Licence exams in the next two to three months before she starts flying with one of SAA’s feeder airlines.
Apart from acknowledging Mahapa’s achievements, SAA has also introduced cadet programmes for previously disadvantaged communities, called Private Pilot License (PPLs) and Commercial Pilot Licenses (CPLs).

“SAA will ensure that candidates who could have been disadvantaged because of historical reasons are assisted in meeting the requirements on the level two programme.

“Each candidate taken on board will have a programme specially designed to suit the individual needs because they will be coming in with various skills and experience. It will therefore be difficult for SAA to design a one-fits all programme,” added Viljoen.

All candidates with a PPL or CPL qualification have to fulfil the following requirements for the level two Cadet Training Programme:

Have a Matric Pass with Mathematics, coupled with either Accounting, Computer Science or Physical Science;
An English pass;
South African citizen;
At least 1.6 m tall;
Medically fit;
Not older than 40 years;
No criminal record;
Obtained their PPL within 60 hours; and
Be prepared to sign a training bond with SAA.

Once the candidates have been accepted, they go through rigorous selection processes and assessment tests. Thereafter, they are sent for training at one of the Flying Schools in the country to obtain an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL).

“The licence is usually frozen until the candidate has accumulated enough flying hours to be able to do the ATPL flying test. These flying hours are obtained whilst the candidate is attached to one of our feeder airlines, namely SA Express or SA Airlink for a period of two or more years”, Viljoen said.

SAA is currently going through a number of applications from various candidates who have applied for this programme and will be conducting interviews early this year. For more information, please contact the Cadet Pilot training office at 011 978 5517.