Qantas Unveils New Pilot Uniforms

BY The Age   /   29th April, 2016

Qantas Unveils New Pilot Uniforms Main Image

When Qantas A330 Captain Debbie Slade joined the airline 27 years ago as one of its first female pilots, little thought was given to uniforms for women.

"We had to wear flight attendant trousers, boys' shirts and boys' hats," she recalls. "It was really piecemeal. You didn't really feel brilliant."

Qantas on Friday unveiled new uniforms for its pilots, which for the first time were designed for both women and men. The last batch of uniforms, worn since 2003, did not differ by gender.

"It is a really big change," Slade says of the new uniforms. "Especially for the females, it has got a little bit of shape and it is made to fit girls rather than girls wearing a boy's uniform."

Slade was one of 60 Qantas pilots who walked the catwalk in Sydney to showcase the new look. The uniforms were designed by Australian fashion designer Martin Grant, who was also behind the flight attendant uniforms introduced in 2013.

The new look includes a modern, single-breasted navy suit in a streamlined cut with a narrow trouser for males and a more feminine version for women, including a specific female tie.

The fabric is lighter than the old uniforms, the shirts are more fitted and the gold stripes used to define rank are more elegant.

"I wanted to create a uniform that reflected the glamour of flying and suit[ed] the unique pilot office environment," Grant says. "The hat is what makes a pilot so recognisable. I wanted to go back to the essence of the naval uniform and bring back the white top."

Qantas pilots wore white hats between 1935 and 1974.

"It had to be traditional and respectful of that history but it had to be modern and represent the future of Qantas, and I think [Grant] has done that completely," chief executive Alan Joyce says of the new uniform.

"It was also extremely important for us was that we had a female-designed uniform. I hope one day we get to 50 per cent of our pilots being female so we will have a lot more of them. We are still waiting on that but I think it is a great start."

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