Permission to land first woman Aer Lingus pilot retires


THE FIRST woman pilot recruited by Aer Lingus retired yesterday after 33 years' service with the former State airline.

Capt Gráinne Cronin (pictured) formally bid farewell after she and an all-female crew comprised of Capt Elaine Egan and First Officer Shelley Gahan flew an Airbus A330 aircraft on flight EI 137 from Dublin to Boston.

Commenting on her last day with the company, she described Aer Lingus as being quite advanced in its attitude towards women when it recruited her in 1977.

"It wasn't easy, I have to say, entering such a male-dominated arena, but Aer Lingus were very forward thinking for the time. They were the second airline in Europe after SAS to introduce female pilots.

"British Airways did not hire any female pilots for at least a further seven or eight years. In 1978 and 1979, two more female pilots joined and we flew the flag for the female race for the next 10 years."

A native of Malahide, Co Dublin, Ms Cronin is the daughter of retired Aer Lingus captain Felim Cronin, while her sister Caroline is also a commercial pilot.

Her husband is also a pilot, a situation she says caused chaos at times in juggling long-haul flights and school runs.

Just to prove that it's all in the genes, her two daughters Alana and Louisa Johnston both hold private pilot's licences.

There are 40 women pilots in Aer Lingus, who report to chief pilot and director of flight operations Davina Pratt.