Do Women Make Bad Pilots – What Data Reveals?

Whether women pilots are better than their male counterparts will require an in-depth study of multiple factors

It is generally perceived that women are not good at driving vehicles. A number of related videos on social media could have shaped that perception. In that context, one wonders how good women are at piloting an aircraft. Are more women pilots involved in plane crashes than men pilots? To answer such questions, here are some important things to understand.

Results of various studies

A number of research studies have been conducted to understand the flying capabilities of female and male pilots. In one such study, pilot-error accident rates were compared for the period 1986 to 1992 in the United States. It was found that female pilots working for major airlines had more cases of accidents in comparison to their male counterparts. However, the study also observed that female pilots involved in such accidents were younger and with less experience.

When accounting for other variables such as total flying hours, type of employer, work pressure, etc., it was found that the risk of accidents was not significantly different for female and male pilots. The study recommended that airlines should continue to recruit and retain experienced female pilots.

In another similar research study, NTSB aviation accident and incident database from 1982 to 2014 was analyzed. Here too, it was noted that the number of accidents were higher in case of female pilots with less experience. This number reduced with female pilots gaining experience. This study also uncovered various other insights.

For example, it was noted that experienced female pilots were given relatively safer routes with clear skies and clear weather. In comparison, experienced male pilots were tasked with handling more complex aircrafts. The research study concluded that there does not appear to be any significant difference between the capabilities of male and female pilots, when looking at averages of all data sets.

Other factors to consider

There are multiple factors that can make women pilots perform better at their jobs. For example, an internal study conducted by Lufthansa revealed that women pilots were more meticulous in their pre-flight preparations. Also, fewer procedural deviations were noted in case of female pilots.

It has been noted that women pilots can excel in multitasking. This is important since piloting requires various skills such as fast decision making, situational awareness and technical skills. Studies have shown that women pilots are better at working as a team. They are more at ease when it comes to collaboration and communication. These aspects make women better pilots.

As compared to their male counterparts, female pilots are less likely to be involved in risky behavior. In an emergency situation, women pilots are more likely to follow protocols. They are less likely to make biased decisions based on their personal beliefs and sense of superiority.


As is evident from above, younger female pilots with less experience can present a higher risk of accidents. However, when considering the averages across all age groups and experience levels, there is no significant difference in the capabilities of female and male pilots.

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