There are currently 55 women in charge of Austrian Airlines aircraft – and Petra Lorenz and Christina Domweber are two of them. In today’s interview, the two reveal why they decided on a career in the cockpit, and exactly what makes the job so fascinating.
Born in Styria, Christina Domweber has been a First Officer on Austrian Airlines’ Embraer fleet since 2016. Her passion for flying first took off at her local airfield of Fürstenfeld, where she started her training.
Petra Lorenz has been flying to all four corners of the world for many years now. After passing her pilot selection and the associated training course, she started out on her career as a Co-pilot on short-haul flights, flying Fokker 70, Boeing 737, Airbus 320 and other aircraft. After this, she spent 3 years flying our Boeing 767 on the long-haul network. She is now a Captain on our Embraer 195 fleet.
What made you decide to become pilots? Did you have a “That’s what I want to do!” moment?
Christina: I was always fascinated by flying. I was fortunate enough to be able to go on holiday by air frequently with my parents when I was a child. If anything, I would have preferred it if they had just left me at the airport and picked me back up again after the holiday, because I found it more exciting there than at our destinations. When I was in my early twenties, I did a trial flight at Fürstenfeld Airfield just by chance, and from that moment on I knew that was what I wanted to do professionally.
Petra: A friend of my parents often used to take me with him when he was flying his aircraft – I was just six years old when I took my first flight with him. Ten years later, I took part in a student exchange to the USA. My guest father was a former airforce pilot and had his own aircraft. My parents also played a big part, of course, in ensuring. I fell in love with flying: I was allowed to take a look around the cockpit on countless holiday flights (which you could still do back then!).
What do you really love about your job?
Petra: Every single flight is a new challenge. You never have quite the same experience twice. I can see the most beautiful backdrops through the cockpit windows, and work with the best colleagues you could imagine. To this day, it still fascinates me that I can guide an aircraft weighing several tons through the air with my own two hands.
Christina: The thing I love about my job is the variety that it naturally brings with it. It starts with the working hours because no two duty rosters are ever the same. The loveliest thing about flying is being able to observe the world from above, the fascinating technology, and the fact that you get to see the sun every single day – no matter how foggy it may be down on the ground. I can’t imagine having a better job and really enjoy working with different constellations of colleagues every morning.
What would be your tips for other women who think they might be interested in taking to the skies as well?
Christina: Keep on keeping on! The road might not always be easy – and there are some real challenges along that road – but you can learn everything, and you’ll make it if you work hard enough. My own training was in economics, at the Handelsakademie, and my degree was in Business Studies, so I had some catching-up to do in areas like physics and technology. It was all totally learnable, though, and it wasn’t long before it became the most exciting thing I’d ever done. It’s also important to be able to accept the criticism and input, and implement it positively as you develop. You’ll never stop learning new things! Don’t get freaked out by the ups and downs in your training or the selection and application process. Just keep going – you’ll get there in the end!
Is there any flight you’ll never quite forget?
Petra: There are several! Landing in Dubai as one member of an all-female crew on our Boeing 737 was pretty special, for instance, as was watching the Northern Lights shimmering away on a night flight from Toronto to Vienna. Experiencing the vastness of the African continent en route from Mauritius to Vienna. Or seeing Mont Blanc up close. You never know quite what to expect, really; the only thing I’m sure of is that there are more of these awe-inspiring moments to come!
How would you describe your job in a single sentence?
Christina: Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life!
Thanks to both of you for giving us your time today, and we hope you enjoy many more happy years up above the clouds!
Have the two female pilots’ experiences made you think this might be something you’d like to do? If so, then click here to find the details of what to expect when training – or if you’re feeling even more confident about your chances, then check out the latest vacancies here! Why wait?