Women's power in the cockpit - interview with first officer

Women's Day is the perfect time to appreciate all the ladies sitting in the cockpit! To mark the occasion, we've put together an inspiring interview with our first officer, Magdalena Majcher (@sofemalepilot). In a candid conversation with Kamil Wrzosek, Magda talks about her work, training and shares some interesting facts about this fascinating role!

Woman in the cockpit

More and more women are sitting in the cockpit. How are ladies perceived at the helm of an airplane?

A woman in the cockpit is not an unusual sight today. I think we are perceived by passengers in a very friendly way - sometimes they are surprised, but usually they just smile broadly.

Magdalena Majcher (on the right) with her friend, Marta. Picture taken in January 2021 during their first flight together in the cockpit.
Magdalena Majcher (on the right) with her friend, Marta. Picture taken in January 2021 during their first flight together in the cockpit.

What does the training look like and how long does it last?

The training that allows us to fly on a particular type of aircraft is divided into three stages: theory, simulator training and practice on the line. The duration of the training is influenced not only by the experience of the pilot in question, but also by how long, among other things, we will wait for the entry in the license that will allow us to begin practice in the aircraft. This usually takes about three months.

You have flown on different types of aircraft. Would you be able to say which aircraft is your favorite and why?

It is difficult to compare the classic Boeing 737 with the modern Embraer - each has its own advantages and different solutions, specific to the time period in which they were constructed. The Embraer is more contemporary and automated, while the 737 leaves the pilot more freedom, which sometimes involves more work.

Embraer 190 at London-City Airport.
Embraer 190 at London-City Airport.

Are there airports where you particularly like to land? Why exactly those?

My TOP 3 are London, Paris and Tel Aviv. All three are airports where there is a lot going on, but the work is structured. I love London for the variety of planes on the tarmac and the unique approach from over the city. Paris is always a challenge when it comes to taxiing - especially when you park at the terminal, which is a bit like a traffic circle.  Tel Aviv is a sight of the sea, the beach and then a city full of lights. It will always have a special place in my heart because it's where I flew on my first flight as an apprentice and my first flight on the line as a fully qualified officer.

Approach to London-Heathrow and views of the city.
Approach to London-Heathrow and views of the city.

What do you see as the biggest advantages of your job?

The biggest advantage of my job is that I get to do what I enjoy. Flying, beautiful views, sunrises or sunsets and the satisfaction of a job done correctly is really a great pleasure. The different start times are sometimes both an advantage and a disadvantage, but sometimes they make it easier to get around to or from work.

Has sitting in the cockpit always been your dream?

For a long time I thought it might never happen. As a child and teenager, I experienced terrible pain in my ears during pressure changes on takeoff and landing. Fortunately, as I got older it just passed on its own.

If you weren't working in aviation, would you see yourself in another industry?

I tried my hand as an engineer, and I'll admit that I wasn't happy sitting behind a desk from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. I think I would have either worked with foreign languages or with handicrafts.

Do you think aircraft will be fully autonomous in the future, but will human presence always be necessary?

I think airplanes are pretty much automated at the moment, but there is still wide room to add more automation to them. This is all aimed at improving safety and making pilots more comfortable. Despite the fact that a lot can be programmed and automated, technology is unfortunately still sometimes unreliable, and I think it will be a long time before we know human faces at the controls.

Do you have any advice for all women who want to begin their adventure in the aviation industry?

I think the key is not to give up. Better and worse moments always happen, but it's worth it to be consistent and persevere!

Magda, thank you very much for the inspiring and interesting conversation! To all the ladies who read us, we wish you perseverance, courage, continued job satisfaction and great moments in the skies!