Air Namibia appoints first female long haul captain

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-Air Namibia has confirmed the appointment of Captain Cornelia Hahn as the airline’s first female long haul captain, operating the Airbus A330-200, which serves the Windhoek-Frankfurt route. Her appointment was effective as from April 1, after the successful completion of her simulator training for the Airbus aircraft.

Captain Cornelia Hahn, 42, has for the past 20 years flown passengers to domestic, regional and international destinations. It takes a certain kind of personality and skills to thrive as a woman in a male-dominated industry.

Captain Hahn became a pilot some 20 years ago (1997) as a commercial pilot at Westair Wings Charters. Two years down the line in 1999, she joined Air Namibia as a First Officer on the Beechcraft B1900, serving on Namibia’s domestic routes.

The then First Officer Cornelia was mainly responsible for preparing the cockpit as an active pilot and assisting the Captain in command. According to Hahn this total immersion in every aspect of the aviation industry only enhanced her love for flying.

In December 2001, Captain Hahn’s skill and dedication earned her a promotion to the rank of a captain on the Beechcraft B1900. Her role was to operate the assigned aircraft as commander and she also ensured the maintenance of standard operating procedures throughout the flight. The role also included flight planning and monitoring all safety protocols before and during the flight.

Knowing that you are never done learning, Captain Hahn continued to pursue her aviation studies, enabling her to start flying the regional aircraft used in the early 2000s. In March 2003, she was trained at Comair’s Training Facilities as First Officer on Boeing 737.

Whilst flying and raising two small children simultaneously, she still managed to continue pursuing her career and became the first female captain of the regional fleet of the Boeing 737 in April 2008.

In April 2012, Captain Hahn received training to operate the Airbus A319-100 in Zürich, Switzerland. The Airbus A319-100 replaced the Boeing 737, that used to service regional routes. She operated the Airbus A319-100 for about two and a half years.

During the second half of 2013, Air Namibia leased two Airbus A330-200, with a total passenger capacity of 244 seats, in two class configurations to service the Windhoek– Frankfurt route.

“In November 2014, I made the decision to join the long haul fleet and gained experience on the Airbus A330-200 and the routing to Frankfurt as first officer,” she explains. In the first quarter of this year, Captain Hahn found herself appointed as the first female captain for the Airbus A330-200.

Asked about how she managed to stay focused and reach the highest level, Hahn said: “It was always a challenge for me to see if I could reach my current position. It makes me proud to hear that I inspire young people, especially young women who dream of becoming pilots. My achievements show them that it does not need to be a dream.

“With dedication and focus they can make it happen. Being a mother of two, Captain Hahn explains that she dedicates her time off to her family. “You have to be organised as the daily family routine needs to continue when you are not at home. I am very fortunate to have a family that supports my career,” she proudly said.

In her 20 years of career development, Captain Hahn notes that her husband, Carl Hahn, who captains Airbus A319-100, has been a pillar of strength.

“My husband motivates and supports me, just as he has done throughout my career. My determination to succeed comes from both the positive and negative criticism I received during my training and flying career. Criticism pushes me to do better and strive for greater heights.”

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