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Around 51 per cent of those questioned by Sunshine.co.uk, the online travel agent, said they were less likely to trust a female pilot, while just 14 per cent said they would feel safer with a woman at the control of an aircraft.
A quarter said the sex of their pilot did not matter. Nine per cent said they were “unsure”.
Of those who said they would rather have a male pilot, 32 per cent said they believed “male pilots are more skilled”, while 28 per cent questioned the ability of female pilots to handle pressure.
The lack of existing female pilots meant a fear of the unknown was also cited by one in ten of those questioned.
According to Cockpit Confidential, a book about air travel by Patrick Smith, a US pilot, just five per cent of cockpit crew are female – up from three per cent in the mid-Nineties.
“It’s obvious to anybody who travels that the vast majority of pilots are men, and I’m unsure what discourages women from joining them in greater number” says Smith. “Part of it may be the military culture that, for many decades, dominated pilot ranks.”