September 2, 2008

Sri Lanka Has First Lady Captain in Aviation Industry

Sri Lanka has first lady captain in aviation industry

COLOMBO, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- With Anusha Siriratne being appointed as SriLankan Airline's captain recently, the South Asian island now has a lady captain in its aviation industry for the first time, the Daily Mirror reported on Friday.

The newspaper quoted SriLankan Airline's CEO Manoj Gunawardena as saying that the appointment "is a significant event for the national carrier."

Interestingly, Captain Anusha and her husband Captain Hemantha Siriratne also made history as the first husband-wife pilot duo in the country. Hemantha received his captain's appointment earlier this year.

Captain Anusha is modest about her appointment and brushed off her achievement, which had been her childhood ambition.

"Women have lagged behind in the field of aviation in Sri Lanka, in comparison to the rest of the world. Even in neighboring countries such as India, women have been airline captains for many years now," she was quoted as saying.

"It doesn't make a difference whether you are a man or a woman when flying. The circumstances don't change, the weather is the same, and the aircraft doesn't know the difference!" she said.

SriLankan Airline has several lady managers in senior positions in most of its nine divisions. It also has women in areas that have traditionally been dominated by men such as aircraft engineering.

Anusha also manages her career and her role as a mother very well -- her daughter Anika is now five. She took a year off from flying when Anika was born.

"It's been my dream to be a captain one day. I've been very fortunate to have come upto this point, and my husband and parents have been wonderfully supportive of my career. All the instructors, pilots, and staff of the Flight Operations division have also been very helpful," she said.

Anusha joined the company as a Cadet Pilot in June 1998. She served as a Second Officer on the Lockheed L1011 Tristar fleet, and in 1999 was promoted to First Officer.

After the airline phased out its aging Tristars with the advent of the all-Airbus fleet, she became a First Officer on the A320's, A330's and A340's, flying to cities throughout the airline's network of destinations in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

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