Ground to Sky: A look Into First Officer Hawwako’s Journey

The Start of first officer Hawwa’s Journey

My name is Hawwa Thaufeeq. I have been working in this industry since 2014 and joined Villa Air in 2016. My journey starts when I took a two-year gap after finishing my A-levels and worked briefly before applying for a government grant to pursue my ambition of becoming a pilot. Fortunately, I got a scholarship that was partially funding my education, so I took a chance on myself and went ahead with my studies. I did have to take a break throughout my training due to financial circumstances, however, after three years I completed my training and even got my seaplane rating in order to ensure job security in the Maldives.

After completing my studies, I first got the opportunity to join TMA, as an administrative officer in their Training Department under Captain Jiffry’s supervision, and started flying after about six months of working at the job.

How has your career developed over the years?

Initially, I took a job at Villa Air doing compliance work along with flying under the supervision of Captain Ihusan. Within six months I got my ATR rating, I was flying and doing the compliance work which opened my eyes to the field– apart from just flying it really showed me the 3D picture of what was happening behind the scene. After about two and half years I was ready for my upgrade training to become a Captain. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic followed by my maternity leave, I was on a long break and  I am finally ready to continue flying. I am currently waiting to continue my upgrade training which got delayed during this period, so initially, I will be flying as a senior first officer.

My ultimate goal is to work in aviation management while flying, and right now I am studying for a bachelor’s degree in aviation management from Villa College I have completed year one of the course, and I intend to continue my studies while flying for Villa Air.  It’s going to be quite challenging to continue flying and continue the degree program while being new to motherhood, however, I am ready to face the challenge, and I really appreciate the support I receive from the management, as well as family and friends. 

What’s the life of a pilot like?

Some airlines have a very hectic schedule, but with Villa Air, we get our roster one month in advance, so we can see on the calendar our off days, training days and days when we have to fly or if we need to do a medical. So, on days when I have to fly, I check what time duty or flight time is, and arrive at the airport 45 minutes before the flight time to be on duty. How many flights you have that day can vary. Normally we have 3-5 flights a day.

When it comes to Villa Air, we currently only fly to two destinations – Maamigili and Dharavandhoo, so we do flights between these two destinations. Our schedule is dependent on the roster published by the airline for us, and in a week we might have four or five days scheduled for us to fly. In comparison to other airlines, I would say that working as a pilot and getting off time is fairly straightforward at Villa Air. Regardless of whatever airline you fly for or which trips you have, rest is essential in a pilot’s life to avoid fatigue because there isn’t enough coffee in the world to help with that!

Why do you think the piloting industry or the aviation industry is so male-dominated?

When it comes to piloting, I feel it is rather male-dominated, and I think this is because many people believe that flying an aeroplane requires a lot of muscle power.

A lot of young girls who are interested in pursuing the field have asked me if they need a certain physique to become a pilot, but I always tell them if they can drive a bike, they can definitely fly an aircraft. 

Hawwa Thaufeeq

I believe that having that kind of perception about piloting is one of the reasons why many girls are not interested in pursuing a career in that profession. 

And I think we are now seeing an increase in female pilots, owing to social media empowerment, which allows them to see what the profession is like and dispels the myth that you need muscles to carry the plane. So I believe that the narrative surrounding flying as a male-dominated sector is evolving, with the idea that if the guy can do it, so can the women.


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