Air Canada And CAE Continue Investment In Women In Aviation With 2024 Scholarships

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  • Air Canada and CAE announced winners of the Captain Judy Cameron Scholarships, aiming to support women pursuing aviation careers in Canada.
  • Eight women from diverse backgrounds were selected for the scholarships, with four recipients set to become CAE Women in Flight program ambassadors.
  • The scholarship program addresses the industry need for more aviation professionals while promoting diversity and inclusion within the aviation sector.

To mark International Women’s Day, Air Canada and CAE have revealed the names of the 2024 Captain Judy Cameron Scholarships winners. The two Canadian companies have again joined forces to award scholarships to eight women from across Canada pursuing careers as commercial pilots or aircraft maintenance engineers.

A record year

The scholarships are funded by Air Canada and CAE (formerly Canadian Aviation Electronics) and administered by the Northern Lights Aero Foundation. This is the fifth year of the program, established in honor of Air Canada’s first female pilot, Captain Judy Cameron.


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After a record number of applications, eight recipients have been selected. The awardees are equally split between the Star Alliance carrier and the technology company, with the four CAE recipients training to become commercial pilots set to become CAE Women in Flight program ambassadors to play a crucial role in encouraging more women to pursue careers in aviation.

Air Canada award recipients:

  • Harnoor Bagarhy – Brampton, Ontario
  • Harman Bagarhy – Brampton, Ontario
  • Emily Contos – Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Chanelle Wilson – Coldstream, British Columbia

CAE Women in Flight Ambassadors:

  • Ashley Gellatly – Cargill, Ontario
  • Nyssa Hansen – Delta, British Columbia
  • Chloe Muhl – Grimsby, Ontario
  • Trisha Virdee – Innisfil, Ontario

The recipients come from various backgrounds and have each contributed significantly to their respective communities. The foundation’s website highlights each of these women’s unique passions and contributions, ranging from flying skydivers to volunteering and judging aerobatics competitions. Speaking on the announcement, Arielle Meloul-Wechsler, Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer, and Public Affairs at Air Canada, congratulated the winners on behalf of the airline:

“Air Canada takes great pride in its leadership role in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within the aviation industry. Women are well represented across all levels and branches of our airline.

“The Judy Cameron Scholarship actively works to support and empower the next generation of women pursuing non-traditional aviation STEM careers. Congratulations to this year’s winners.”

Air Canada and CAE 2024 Judy Cameron Scholarship winners

Photo: Air Canada

The Captain Judy Cameron Scholarship is open to women who are Canadian citizens and who are enrolled in fixed-wing aviation flight programs or aircraft repair and maintenance programs across Canada.

Meeting an industry need

Multiple career fields within aviation continue to face staffing shortages, and this scholarship program is one way the two Montreal-based aviation companies are looking to support women with a passion for aviation. CAE predicts a global need for more than 1.3 million new aviation professionals by 2032 and hopes attracting underrepresented groups, like women, will help keep the industry aloft and allow it to thrive. Marie-Christine Cloutier, CAE’s Vice President, Civil Aviation Performance, Strategy and Marketing noted just how important such programs are:

“Initiatives like CAE’s Women in Flight Program and the Captain Judy Cameron Scholarships are critical to attracting and supporting more women in making their dream of a career in aviation a reality.”

The scholarship’s namesake, Judy Cameron, was the first female pilot hired by Air Canada when she accepted the job in April 1978, aged 23. Over the subsequent four decades, she went on to fly the DC-3, Twin Otter, Hawker Siddeley 748, DC-9, Lockheed 1011, Airbus 320, Boeing 767, and ultimately the carrier’s largest aircraft, the Boeing 777.


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Now the Director of the Northern Lights Aero Foundation, Cameron expressed her confidence that this year’s recipients will soar to great heights:

“I’m incredibly excited that the Northern Lights Aero Foundation received a record number of applications for the Captain Judy Cameron scholarships this year. Kudos to Air Canada for initiating and building momentum for the program over the past five years, and to CAE for joining the effort in 2022 to encourage more women in their aviation careers.

“Past recipients have become flight instructors, maintenance engineers, and commercial pilots across Canada. This year’s recipients will inspire and support other women in their aviation journeys. Congratulations to the eight recipients and to Air Canada and CAE for generously funding the scholarships.”

An Air Canada Boeing 787-8

Photo: Air Canada

Worldwide, only around 5% of commercial airline pilots are women. Other industry titans, including Embraer and Qantas, offer similar programs.

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