An Interview with Sarah Kalmeta

Women in Aviation – Singapore interviewed Ms. Sarah Kalmeta (right). A professional in the business aviation industry, she is the regional director of operations at APAC at Universal Weather and Aviation Inc. Furthermore, Ms. Kalmeta is in the board of governors for the Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA).

As a ‘woman in aviation’, Ms. Kalmeta kindly participated in an interview, sharing with us her background, and highlighting the gender imbalance in the aviation industry.

What sparked your interest in business aviation?

I have always had a passion for aviation; my very first words were for star and airplane! Growing up I was part of the Civil Air Patrol while living in Arizona, learning about aviation and search and rescue missions. I have always had a knack for business, so when the Business Aviation program was introduced at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott campus it was a natural fit.

There are so many areas/fields in the aviation industry. Yet, there is a gender imbalance. As a member of the aviation community and as a female, could you address the common misinterpretations females outside the industry have, and how these misinterpretations may arise?

Women’s rights have been steadily increasing over the years, and the workforce is about a 50/50 split worldwide, yet aviation (and other industries) still see an imbalance. As women started leaving the stay-at-home-mum role behind and entered the workforce, they typically took on administrative or customer service roles and left the men to the fields that required more manual labour or more specialised skillsets. A lack of university education for women contributed to this norm, as well as the fact that women were still responsible for taking care of the children once home. This norm is changing and in many universities today there are more females enrolled than males and men are more active in rearing their children. Most commonly the general public will think of airports and airlines when they think of aviation. A lot of the industry is forgotten/not considered by the average person. However, when the average person DOES think about aviation they usually consolidate the roles into: pilot, engineer, flight attendant, airport check in staff, baggage handlers, and security. Traditionally the majority of these roles have been performed by men, with the exception of airport check in staff and some security. The 70s saw young men wanting to become pilots and young women wanting to be flight attendants and was considered to be a glamorous job. Traditionally these are the gender stereotypes assigned to these aviation roles, however, today’s world sees male flight attendants and female pilots, with the number of female interest in the industry growing each year. When I went to ERAU, the student body was 90% male and 10% female at the Prescott campus, and now it is about 75% male and 25% female. The perceptions are slowly changing. Since I’ve joined AsBAA I have seen many examples of women in leadership positions within business aviation. June 2017 saw the members vote in Jenny Lau, the Founder and President of Sino Jet, as AsBAA’s new chairperson. Several other women sit in leadership positions both within AsBAA on the Board of Governors as well as within their respective companies. This shows that the norm is changing and that there are fewer barriers for women in aviation.

Is there anything you would like to say to all those aspiring female aviators out there?

Stay focused, stay excited, stay passionate. Do not lose sight of your dreams or let the challenges aviation presents allow you to stumble. Be tenacious and work hard. Push your limits and constantly expand your knowledge base and network. Find a mentor and learn from them. Let your abilities speak for themselves and you will soar the skies. To learn more from other inspiring female leaders in our industry, please follow our AsBAA in Action Women in Aviation article each month. You can find the Oct 2017 edition here:

By Andrew Abeysekera


Mr. Youhao Toh and The Revion Ground School in Singapore

In 2011, Mr. Toh started his pilot training and earned his Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) issued Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPL) with a Multi-Engine Instrument Rating (CPL MEIR) in 2012. He was selected to perform circuits flying with a passenger on board alongside Captain Sven from Denmark Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for audits.

After getting his licence, he served as an Aviation Ground Instructor at Singapore Flying College (SFC), a wholly owned subsidiary of SIA, where he provided ground instruction for new ongoing private and airline sponsored cadets, airline flight dispatchers and the conversion of foreign pilot licences. He was elected as a member of the SIA Group Pandemic Health Watch Team and also attended the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Safety Management System (SMS) course.

After he left SFC, he served as an Instructional Designer and ATPL Subject Matter Expert at a leading aerospace technology-based training provider in Asia. He also initiated the design and development of the JAA/CAAS ATPL Computer-Based Training (CBT) storyboards, oversaw the JAA/CAAS ATPL planning and analysis, analysed and developed assessment instruments to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of learning.

He was designated as an Aviation Management Professional (AvMP), globally recognised, by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and was elected as an Associate Member of Royal Aeronautical Society (AMRAeS), the world’s only professional body dedicated to the aerospace and aviation industry.

Mr. Toh was kind enough to participate in an interview with Women in Aviation – Singapore, answering a few questions sharing a little bit about himself and also highlighting the gender equality in the industry.

Why did you choose aviation?

I wished to take up a career as an airline pilot and it’s never easy to really explain my desire of becoming an airline pilot, but I would say because of the high job satisfaction with the totally varied working routine, the great challenge of seeking for excellence in every flight.

However, after few years of being an instructor, I get incredible joy in seeing the difference I have made and that’s when I realised that this is my calling, to help aspiring pilots to achieve their dreams and that’s why I founded Revion Ground School.

What are your thoughts on the gender imbalance in the aviation industry globally?

According to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, only about 5% of pilots worldwide are female.

Look at EVA Air. Based on 2016 report, it has about 50 female pilots among its 1,200 pilots (approximately 4.2%) and they do acknowledge that it’s hard to meet the demand and therefore they have been trying very hard to find more female pilots.

Many airlines have been trying hard to push the gender bias aside therefore I think it’s quite encouraging although it’s going to take quite some time to see the positive impact.

With the aviation industry burgeoning here in Singapore, what are your thoughts on addressing the gender imbalance as we move forward?

For the past 5 years, Singapore Demographic: Resident Population shows that, approximately 51% is female, 49% is male. Yet, female pilots make up less than 1% of the total pilot population in Singapore, to make it even worst, it is way lower than the 5% of pilots worldwide.

Singapore carriers are losing many pilots to China and Middle East, and the cost of training remains a major barrier to many aspiring pilots. In a long run, I believe that the only way to meet the growth is by getting more female interested in becoming pilots which will help to meet the growth, increase the pool of potential pilots, and improve the gender equality at the same time. Otherwise, this would further reduce the small pool of potential pilots which is mainly caused by the high cost of training.

Could you tell us a little Information on the ground school you started?

Revion offers something that no existing local training organisation has offered so far, is that aspiring pilots do not have to quit their full-time job during the ground school, this way they can continue to have their income for a year before leaving their full-time job to commence the full-time flight training in Hamilton (New Zealand) with a world-renowned flight training organisation.

I strongly believe in maximising training value rather than maximising profits. This in turn, helping to lessen their financial burden and get to receive world-class flight training as compared to existing local flight training organisations.

Please let us know about what caused you to start-up the ground school in Singapore.

Both Singapore Airlines (SIA) and SilkAir are the only local airlines that provide sponsorship. Aspiring pilots who are not able to secure a place on the limited number of airline sponsored training scheme can apply to Scoot and Jetstar Asia cadet programme. However, these airlines do not provide sponsorship. Aspiring pilots who wish to join Scoot cadet pilot programme must self-fund their own training and overseas living expenses which can cost more than S$250,000. Due to the high cost of training that existing local training organisations are charging, many aspiring pilots could not afford to pursue their dreams and as a result, driving fewer people to take up the career.

I felt that there is no/little initiative in helping aspiring pilots by the existing local training organisations. What I see is that the training cost keeps on increasing and aspiring pilots have no choice but to find a way to pay for it because of the limited choices of training organisation if they are really keen on pursuing their dreams.

This motivated me to set up Revion Ground School in March 2016, to help people achieve their dreams. I hope to lessen their burden as much as possible by offering an alternative option that is more affordable for aspiring pilots and I also hope to be a part of their success stories.


Moving forward, WIA-Singapore welcomes Mr. Toh and his team at Revion Ground School onboard as a strategic partner.

By Rachel Tay

“What inspired me was the possibility to see the world from up there” – Capt. Liney Lozano

“What inspired me was the possibility to see the world from up there”; The words of Capt. Liney Lozano, a female pilot from Bogota, Colombia.

A young and ambitious Capt. Lozano gazed at the airplanes making their final approach to the airport and pondered her life as the character she always admired at the airport, a pilot. Now she flies the Airbus A320 for Colombia’s national flag carrier.

“The fact that you can go to work and have the best office in the whole world, watching many different and beautiful things like sunsets and sunrises every single day is just amazing” stated Capt. Lozano.

Trailing through clouds and observing the breathtaking scenery below is a mutual admiration that all us aviation enthusiasts share.

“I love working one day in the morning and watch the sunrise and next day working in the afternoon and watch the sunset” expressed Capt. Lozano.

When asked about the challenges faced as she pursued a career in aviation, Capt. Lozano didn’t hesitate to acknowledge the countless challenges faced. Moreover, she went on to say; “I can only say I knew it was going to be one of my biggest challenges in life, and I love that because I have proved myself how far I can go, and just when I have felt I have reached my top, there comes some new challenges that make me go further, and I reach higher and become better”.

Of course, the aviation industry is proliferating and as demand for pilots increase, airlines ensure that pilots undergo rigorous training to ensure high quality and safe service.

“Pursue your dream no matter what it is, specially in Aviation it might be one of the biggest challenges you face in your lives but it is completely worth it! So, if it is your dream, just go and get it. Study hard, give your 110% and then enjoy the beautiful things that this career has to offer” addressed Capt. Lozano to all the aviation enthusiasts out there.

by Andrew Abeysekera




The Rebirth of the Amur Tiger

The Tiger is back! The Boeing 747-446, registered: EI-XLD and named “Yuzhno Sakhalinsk”, is Rossiya’s 6th Boeing 747 acquired through lease. The stunning livery, featured on the aircraft’s nose, is a joint project in collaboration with the Amur Tiger Centre. The research and conservation organisation was founded in 2013 through Russian President Vladimir Putin’s initiative. The project hopes to increase awareness of the endangerment of the Amur Tiger Species.

Rossiya revealed that the aircraft was painted at Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport, the site of Alitalia’s maintenance service. She is fitted with 522 seats, 12 in business and 510 in Economy. She previously flew with Japan Airlines and Transaero.

Transaero also operated the original Tiger Livery, which was featured on a Boeing 747 too (registered: EI-XLN). The aircraft is currently in Spain’s Teruel Airport without an operator after Transaero ceased operations in 2015.

By Yap Puay Tong

Photo Source: Photo courtesy Leonid Faerberg, used with permission,

Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP)

It is no secret that men hegemonize the aviation industry. “Step back and let the men deal with it”; a thought that is cliché in the heads of women in modern society. During World War II, the pilots of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) stepped up to the plate with the same ideology. However, flying was not the subject being visualized as the “job for men”. It was the combat.

With more than 1,000 pilots standing by their name, the Women of the WASP body were making history. The women of the WASP took on the task of flying to allow the men to assist in ground combat. The aircrafts the Women were asked to fly were the B-17, B-26 and B-29 bombers. Not equipped with technology you would find on modern military aircrafts, the bombers required a lot of physical strength to control. Weighed down by its hydraulic cables, machine guns and bombs, piloting the Flying Fortress was a challenge to all pilots. However, the bravery and perseverance of the individuals enlisted to the WASP, allowed the United States Airforce to be as strong as it was in World War II.

The World War II era reminisces gender bias. It was a big deal to allow women to pilot aircrafts, in the mentality that was possessed in days of World War II. Such was the case that most of the pilots of the WASP were refused jobs by commercial airlines, regardless of their experience, but in regard to their gender. Furthermore, documents regarding the WASP were sealed and stored in an undisclosed archive. It was in 1977 that the pilots of the WASP were officially considered a part of the US military and given military status.

This epoch was important and stood as a major milestone to the aviation industry. Three decades after the Wright Brothers took flight in North Carolina, the pilots of the WASP took on a task which demonstrated to the world that flying has no gender limitations. Overtime, as every nation sustained the privilege of flight, “boundaries”, which were no more than products of cliché imagination, faded, establishing that flying is for everyone.

by Andrew Abeysekera