The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) Director, Poppy Khoza, has urged the private sector to come to the table in creating a more inclusive aviation industry.
She’s acknowledged a reluctance from the sector as South Africa works to transform its white-male dominated aviation space.
There’ve been increasing calls for transformation in the sector— with white pilots making up about 90% of all pilots in the country and black pilots coming in at just 11%.
YNews caught up with the Director at SACAA’s first-ever Youth Professionals Assembly, which aims to get young aviators to discuss challenges facing the industry.
As SACAA’s first female director, Khoza, says her journey speaks to the growing possibilities for transformation in the sector.
She says as a young girl growing up in the rural villages of KZN she’d never even seen a plane. Having worked her way through the ranks of South African Airways (SAA) after kicking off her career as a customer service agent, she’s encouraged more young black women to take up space in the industry.
Khoza adds that accelerating transformation in the aviation space has not come without its setbacks.
Funding, she says, is a major hinderance for under-resourced students. Aspiring young black pilots are finding it difficult to complete their studies, with commercial pilots licenses costing upwards of a million rand to obtain.
She says despite available funding from SACAA and the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA), the bursaries are simply just not enough to support the demand.
Young black pilots at the assembly on the other hand encouraged young people to work hard and obtain good results before exploring funding as an option.
23-year-old Nandipha Sitsha, who is a pilot, says a lack of accessible funding is a big part of what’s preventing young black women from thriving in the aviation sector.
The young aviator is currently working towards her commercial pilots license all, while maintaining a part-time job to support her costly studies.
Sitsha says while she’s constantly being asked to prove herself in the male-dominated industry she’s determined not to be held back.
The young pilots at the event also encouraged their white counterparts to more actively participate in the transfer of crucial skills in the sector.
Civil Engineer, Moshele Matli, says skills transfer is about inclusion and not taking over. Article by Naomi Kobbie
Written by: Lindiwe Mabena