Captain Irene Koki
Captain Irene Koki

Africa’s First Female Dreamliner Captain Set to Commandeer Maiden Direct Flight to US From Kenya

It has emerged that Kenya’s most celebrated female pilot, Irene Koki Mutungi, will be the lead pilot commandeering the first Kenya Airways flight bound for New York from Nairobi.

During the long awaited Sunday, October 28, flight, the 42-year-old pilot will be behind the control columns of one of the world’s most technologically sophisticated planes, Dream-liner Boeing 787-8.

According to People Daily, President Uhuru Kenyatta will be the first passenger aboard the cabin of the Dream-liner Boeing 787-8 as he has already acquired the first ticket.

On Tuesday, June 19, Captain Koki was also in the limelight after she was honored by the state department of Tourism following her victory in the 2017 Africa Top Travel 100 Women.

Koki intimates that her desire to fly was triggered when she was five years old by observing her father who by then was a KQ pilot.

“I was later employed as a cadet by KQ when I was 19 years, promoted to second officer, first officer and now 23 years down the line, a fully fledged pilot (captain),” she said.

She recollects that after going through advanced studies in the male dominated field, she acquired a commercial pilot licence from the Federation Aviation of the US in 1995.

After that, she returned in the country and was hired by KQ becoming the national carrier’s first female pilot and remained one up to 2001.

In 2004, she transited and became Africa’s first woman to captain a commercial plane after beating all odds and qualified to command a 737.

Since then, she has climbed the ranks and commands even bigger carriers among the 767 and 787.

Koki boasts to be among the 626 female pilots globally while the males take the lion’s share of the industry with 13,140 pilots. This is according to 2017 statistics of Airline Pilots Association.

The Captain says that she wishes for more female pilots to join the league adding that seeing a female pilot really pumps a sense of pride and confidence in her.

“I think that pilots should be employed based on their skills and not their gender,” says Koki.

She dismissed fears of fatigue during the 15 hour flight stating that the plane has been built in a manner that it eliminates any source or cause of exhaustion.

“Dream-liner air crafts are designed to offer a “calmer cabin experience”, equipped with a quieter air conditioner and advanced technology that isolates noises from vibrations in sidewalls and ceilings and reduces engine noises,” she said.

According to the State departments of Tourism and Trade, the direct flights will give Kenya a wider business berth besides also positioning it as a strategic business partner with other Western countries.

The airline also envisions to rip big from the flights exuding optimism they will also bail it out of its current economic struggles.