Interview with Beatriz Gil Ortego – First Officer at Euroairlines
Updated: Sep 19
We continue with the interviews with women who develop their profession within the Euroairlines Group. Today we interviewed Beatriz Gil Ortego, who currently works as First Officer at Euroairlines.
What is your specific role in the airline industry and what skills are needed to carry it out successfully?
At Euroairlines I work as First Officer. My role, along with that of the commander, is to ensure that the flight is carried out safely and any type of mishap is promptly resolved if it happens. Therefore, we have been trained to act diligently in the event of any emergency. A pilot must have a global vision of everything that happens both in the cockpit and outside it: initiative and decision making, planning and management of tasks, personal development to stay abreast of changes in the industry, self-control under stress and work team up.
What motivated you to look for work in this sector and how did you get to where you are now?
The reason is that I have been passionate about aviation since I was little but unfortunately in a sector that requires a large financial investment. Thanks to my grandparents who paid for my studies by selling properties, I have continued to persevere in my goal. I have gotten to where I am thanks to the help of my family and my stubbornness.
Have you encountered any obstacles or prejudices in your career due to your gender? If so, how have you overcome it?
A long time ago, when I got my license, I felt observed by colleagues and instructors, apart from the fact that many times when I went to the medical examination they thought I was a flight attendant and that in interviews they asked me about my plans to increase the family, nowadays I don't feel that discrimination.
This case, for me, was not something to “overcome”, it was rather finding myself in an uncomfortable situation. It was part of the challenge of proving that I was no less than my male colleagues.
Could you share an interesting or exciting anecdote that you experienced at work?
When I went to Vienna to do the UPRT (acrobatics), all my classmates were tall and big. I'm 1.70 tall and I was the only one who didn't get dizzy. It was funny to see those “tricks” with their faces half green and asking me why I was okay. If I remember correctly, there were 12 of us in the course, of course I was the only woman and I was the second to obtain the best grades. I looked at everyone else's notes out of the corner of my eye, I'm a bit competitive (laughs).
How would you describe the work environment in the airline sector? What do you like most about working on it?
The truth is that Euroairlines is like a “small” family, in which we all help each other, there is transparency regarding what happens internally and you really feel part of that project, it is important for me to feel recognized and valued. And at Euroairlines I have both, I'm really happy.
What is your opinion on the representation of women in the airline industry in general?
I believe that the pioneers in aviation have had to pave the way for those of us who came after. It is one of the reasons why I became a pilot, I also have engineering studies. There is no profession made only for men or made only for women, but rather valid people who have the requirements that the profession demands.
What are some of the skills and characteristics that women can bring to the airline industry that are different from those of men?
In my opinion, we prepared things thoroughly. Men do it too, but I think we take it a step further, we are more perfectionists. Furthermore, we handle issues related to language better than men, which is why we are good at CRM and directing.
Is there a specific project or achievement in your career that you would like to highlight and share?
As a result of COVID-19, as we all know, aviation suffered a great setback. I had to reinvent myself, I started teaching UAS regulations classes. Part of the training I had to provide is similar to what an ultralight pilot receives, but AESA just changed the regulation in January 2021. By dint of reading during my breaks, before going to work, when I got home... I became a “name” in the sector. The regulations were very ambiguous and left many cases unspecified.
Today, I run a telegram group of more than 1,000 people and teach courses for several schools. I trained myself, it took a lot of effort. My passion is flying and it is what makes me happiest, but I discovered that training satisfies me a lot.
Have you seen any examples of female leadership in the airline industry that have inspired or motivated your own career?
Numerous books have been written about pioneers in aviation and I could give many examples; Katherine Wright, the sister of the Wright brothers, who thanks to her and her financial management, negotiation and support of her Wright brothers, the first to make a powered flight in history, achieved the goal of she. Elise Léontine Deroche, the first woman to obtain a pilot's license, along with Amelia Earhart, the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean, are the ones who have inspired me the most because of their drive to break boundaries, their bravery and courage. Also, I would like to mention Elsi Gregory MacGill, she was the first female electrical engineer in Canada, and in the world, the first in the master's degree and doctorate in aeronautics, in the USA and in the world, the first chief engineer of an aircraft company in the world, a skilled designer of aircraft structures, who due to his physical limitations, due to illness, was never able to pilot an airplane, but accompanied the pilots in the tests of their aircraft designs. Another great inspiration for me.
How do you think gender and cultural diversity in the workplace benefits the airline industry?
I think it benefits her a lot because there is always something to learn from your companion in the cabin. The fundamental thing is to be respectful and open to other opinions, but without reaching the absurdity.
What advice would you give to young women considering a career in this sector?
It is a beautiful sector and the condition of being a woman should not stop anyone from doing what they like most. I would say to those women who are considering starting aeronautical training: to fight for what they like most, after all, it is their life, do not close doors for yourself or allow others to do it for you, make yourself Be brave and fight for your dreams and you will see that you will achieve them. It's just a matter of persistence, effort and training.
Have you seen any significant changes in the perception of women in the airline industry since you started working in it?
That's right, when I got my license in 2006, there were two women and about 30 men in class. Today that percentage is not the same. Every time I go to Cuatro Vientos, which is where I trained, I see many more women receiving commercial pilot training. Not only has there been an increase in training but also in terms of work, every time I go to Barajas I come across quite a few female pilots; that was not so common a few years ago. I have to say that we still have a way to go, but it is because of the people, not because of the industry.