Children can enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience this summer – as easyJet launches its first Summer Flight School, allowing kids to take on the role of a pilot in a real Airbus A320 flight simulator.
Seven in ten primary school aged children said that the chance to fly a plane is the most exciting thing they could imagine doing during their summer holidays – and exactly half dream of becoming either a pilot, or a member of cabin crew, when they grow up.
Now, these ambitious youngsters can take the first step towards achieving their dream – in a new, money-can’t-buy competition from easyJet, offering 7-12-year-olds complimentary places at their Summer Flight School.
The first-of-its-kind event by the airline will offer children the opportunity to take the controls of an Airbus A320 flight simulator, as well as learning what it takes to provide the best inflight service to passengers as cabin crew.
Youngsters and their parents will be able to go behind the scenes at easyJet’s state-of-the-art training centre, and experience exciting hands-on pilot and cabin crew training, hosted by real pilots and crew.
They will also have the opportunity to quiz easyJet pilots about how to become high-fliers – including Kate McWilliams, who became the UK’s youngest female airline captain at the age of just 26.
The new initiative aims to inspire more young people to consider a career in aviation – as part of easyJet’s ongoing work to drive greater diversity within areas in the industry that still face a significant gender imbalance, particularly pilots and cabin crew.
It comes as a poll of 2,000 parents, and their children, found that over a third of primary school pupils (37 per cent) believe flying a plane is a job exclusively for men – with 28 per cent of young girls holding this opinion.
And 28 per cent of boys believe that cabin crew is exclusively a job for women – indicating that there is still work to be done to combat these gender stereotypes.
However, reassuringly, 68 per cent of the young girls surveyed said they believe that both boys and girls can be airline pilots, demonstrating a positive shift in attitudes compared to the previous generation.
When it comes to the parents polled, nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of female adult respondents said that when they were a child, they believed only men could be pilots – and similarly, 63 per cent of adult men said they would never have considered a role as cabin crew, due to their gender.
Two-thirds of parents believe there are still misconceptions that being a pilot is a job for men rather than for women, with 86 per cent believing that these gender stereotypes start at primary school age.
Indeed, over half of children (51 per cent) say they have never seen a female pilot – with just six per cent of pilots in the world today being women.
As such, easyJet has been focused on tackling this industry-wide gender imbalance for a number of years, and has nearly tripled the number of female pilots in its ranks since 2015.
Alongside recruitment campaigns to attract more women and people from diverse backgrounds to the career, the airline’s Pilot School Visits programme has seen female and male pilots presenting to hundreds of schools up and down the country, to show it’s a job for everyone.
By providing a unique and immersive free experience, blending fun, education, and hands-on activities, the airline hopes its “Summer Flight School” will not only inspire a new generation of aviators, but also help the 87 per cent of parents who said they struggle to find low-cost or free experiences for children during the holidays.
Over nine in ten parents (92 per cent) believe “edutainment” – activities that provide the opportunity for their kids to learn something new, as well as being fun – is important when it comes to planning a family day out.
And more than half (54 per cent) specifically look for activities that would spark a new interest for their children.
Jane Storm, Chief People Officer for easyJet, said the airline was leading the industry in tackling diversity.
She said: “We’re delighted to be taking families behind the scenes with our new Summer Flight School – not only to offer a unique and exciting day out during the school holidays, but also one we hope will inspire the next generation of pilots and cabin crew, and show young people that their aspirations don’t have to be limited by outdated stereotypes, and to help broaden their horizons.
“Increasing diversity in all of its forms across our airline, and creating an inclusive environment where people can be themselves at work, is incredibly important to us, and is a long-term focus for easyJet, so we will continue to lead the industry on this issue.”
easyJet Training Captain Kate West added: “At school, I was told that being a pilot wasn’t a suitable career option for me – so I know from first-hand experience how important it is to challenge these misconceptions, which we know can start from a young age.
“Role models and awareness of our jobs as pilots and crew are such an important part of this, and so I’m delighted that our Summer School will give children that opportunity this summer – and even their first taste of flying an aircraft!”
If you know any tiny aviation fans who would like to swap making paper planes for a stint in the cockpit, then sign up now.
easyJet’s Summer Flight School takes off from August 21 at easyJet’s London Gatwick training centre. Places are available to book for free from Monday, August 7, just visit here.