When Solomon Airlines new international aircraft took off on its maiden flight from Brisbane to Honiara yesterday, for the first time in the airline’s history, both pilots were born and raised in Solomon Islands.

Captain Daniel Leong and Captain Purdie with members of the Solomon Islands Business Community who danced at Brisbane International Airport to welcome VIP passengers travelling on the flight.

Proudly at the controls was local pilot, Captain Daniel Leong, the first Solomon Islands pilot to graduate as an Airbus A320 First Officer. Flying with him was Captain Mark Purdie, also born in Solomon Islands and is now the national carrier’s Manager of Flight Operations and also an Airbus A320 Training Captain.

Captain Leong completed his A320-200 training requirements earlier this year successfully performing line check training on a Solomon Airlines flight between Brisbane and Auckland via Honiara and Port Vila.

We are tremendously proud to have local pilots in command of our newest international aircraft to operate the inaugural flight from Brisbane,” said Solomon Airlines CEO Mr Gus Kraus.

In the past two years, Solomon Airlines has made rapid progress with our aim to provide career development opportuni1es for Solomon Islands local pilots.

“We are confident that we can attract and retain more local pilots and part of that is offering pilots an ongoing career opportunity with Solomon Airlines,” he added.

Solomon Airlines now has a De Havilland Canada 8-100 (Dash 8) with upgraded local captains including Captain Linda Owen and Captain Jerry Tumuri, and Capt. Steve Aumanu as a First Officer on the Dash 8 soon to be considered for command.

The national carrier has also confirmed the local appointments to senior and technical positions of Mr Daniel Bugotu as Safety & Compliance Manager, Ms Malina Ilala as Chief Finance Officer, Ms Aketa Nanauasi as Manager Quality Assurance and Lister Hopa as Manager Continuing Airworthiness and newly installed Financial Controller as Henky Leketo.

-Solomon Airlines Media

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