Malaysia's First Female Commercial Plane Pilot Passes Away

Prior to joining airasia in 2002, Janet Chen Nyuk Jin already had two decades worth of flying experience.

Cover image via Daily Express

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Malaysia's first female commercial plane pilot, Janet Chen Nyuk Jin, passed away at the age of 68 last Wednesday, 7 December

According to The Star, the reason for the mother-of-one's passing was not disclosed.

Daily Express reported that she drew her last breath in the early hours of Wednesday at the Gleneagles Hospital in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Chen joined airasia in May 2002, making her the first female commercial plane pilot in the country who had turned her hobby into a career.

Additionally, she was also recorded as Malaysia's first female pilot to have flown a commercial Boeing 737, an aircraft that can carry between 119 and 215 passengers.

Image via Daily Express

Prior to becoming a commercial plane pilot, she had two decades of flying experience

According to a 2006 interview that Daily Express cited, Chen said she obtained her commercial pilot's licence in 1981 after a brief working stint as an accounts executive.

It was understood that she was an economics graduate of Monash University in Australia in the 1970s. When she returned to Kota Kinabalu, she did not know what she wanted for herself.

However, when looking for a job, she stumbled upon Yayasan Sabah, which was offering flying scholarships.

"I was the only female among the first batch of successful applicants sent for a 13-month training course in Scotland," she said.

Image via Facebook

Chen later joined Sabah Air, where she served 21 years carrying out various assignments, including flying former transport minister Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik and emergency medical flights

She had also flown geographers and photographers for mapping missions and aerial shoots, respectively.

As a woman pilot in the 80s and 90s, she received much derision and scepticism regarding her ability to fly.

"I was her colleague in the 1990s," The Star quoted Captain Naru Kiob as saying, adding, "At that time, there was much scepticism about female professionals, including in our line of work."

Kiob, who described Chen as a strong, tactful, and dedicated person, said many clients requested a change of pilot whenever they saw Chen's name and found out that she was a woman.

They initially complied with such requests before eventually telling the clients to wait if they did not wish to fly with Chen.

"Later, many had to just accept her as their pilot, and all survived their flights," Kiob said in jest.

Image via Daily Express

Chen joined airasia after many of her friends and former colleagues encouraged her to apply to the low-cost carrier, which was looking for a female pilot at the time

"Things were just falling into place. The right time, right place, and right people," the late Chen said.

She said she was grateful that airasia accepted her and hoped the company would open more doors for women to become pilots.

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