AW609 TILTROTOR: SETTING A NEW MILESTONE
Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Marwan Al Maktoum becomes the first woman pilot to fly the AW609 tiltrotor.
No stranger to adventure, Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Marwan Al Maktoum has always pushed herself to the limits, spending her childhood horse riding, rock climbing, trampolining and even taking boxing lessons. Belonging to Dubai’s ruling Maktoum family, Sheikha Mozah’s development was enthusiastically encouraged and after her first skydiving jump at the age of 13, she realised being in the clouds was where she wanted to be.
A CAREER IN THE SKY
A glittering career in aviation followed as Sheikha Mozah, at the age of 17, became the youngest student enrolled at the Oxford Aviation Academy – one of the world’s leading commercial pilot training schools. After completing her Integrated Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) First Officer programme, Her Highness went on to become Dubai’s first royal female pilot, having achieved her type rating on the Boeing 777. Joining Emirates Airlines in 2015, Sheikha Mozah piloted her first flight (EK901, from Dubai to Amman in Jordan) with her proud mother on board. Her Highness’ love for her community led her to serve in the Dubai Police Air Wing, where in 2019, she achieved the rank of First Lieutenant Pilot – the first female to attain this position.
Back in October 2019, Sheikha Mozah established the Women in Aviation Association (Shehana), to provide support and increase awareness of many opportunities in this exciting field. Shehana means ‘female falcon’ in Arabic, one of the most beautiful and the fastest amongst falcons and Her Highness once again reached an aviation milestone in May, as she became the first female pilot to fly the AW609 tiltrotor.
The AW609 is one of the most significant technological innovations in the civil aviation landscape, melding the helicopter’s operational versatility (taking off and landing vertically) and the airplane’s performance advantages (pressurized cabin, speed, altitude and endurance abilities), opening new and exciting possibilities for passenger transport and public service.
Executive Transport: Leonardo hosted Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Marwan Al Maktoum at its United States helicopter headquarters.
Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Marwan Al Maktoum took the controls of the AW609 tiltrotor at Leonardo’s United States helicopter headquarters in Philadelphia, setting a new ceiling for female pilots in civil aviation.
“I’m thrilled to be the first female pilot to test this revolutionary aircraft,” commented Sheikha Mozah. “This is not just a personal milestone but an opportunity to shatter another glass ceiling for women. I always push myself beyond my limits to prove that if I can do it, it is also within the reach of anyone else who is determined enough to try.”
Tilting the balance: The AW609 is one of the most significant innovations in civil aviation and the world’s first tiltrotor set to receive civil certification.
The AW609 will revolutionise point-to-point transport. The tiltrotor can take off and land vertically and hover like a helicopter, and fly offering passengers the comfort of a turboprop airplane. Able to operate different kinds of missions, including VIP transport, emergency medical service, search and rescue, and government applications, the AW609 can fly at a speed of more than 500 km/h with a range of almost 1,400 km, which can reach 2,000 with auxiliary tanks.
“Piloting the AW609 has been on my bucket list since I first saw the early prototype images,” said Her Highness. “It is the natural evolution of my piloting experience, merging both fixed and rotary-winged piloting skills. I am still pinching myself for this opportunity! Aircraft like this one make me feel really excited about the future of aviation, a future now open to more women who chose this industry.”
“I’m thrilled to be the first female pilot to test this revolutionary aircraft.”
William Hunt, Managing Director, Leonardo Helicopters in the U.S. was equally excited, stating: “Leonardo was honoured to host Her Highness, providing this one-of-a-kind experience on the world’s first tiltrotor set to achieve civil certification. Demonstrating the AW609’s combined fixed and rotary-winded piloting capabilities was a true milestone for the team in Philadelphia.”