Kristen McCallum is a Civil Aviation Safety Inspector in Transport Canada's Winnipeg office. In addition to being a female pilot who is committed to encouraging other women to fly, Kristen was recently selected as one of Wings magazine's Top 20 under 40, an annual feature that recognizes individuals who will make a difference to the future of the aviation industry.
Before beginning her career in aviation, Kristen had no family history in the field. When she was attending university for an arts degree, Kristen's mom suggested that she look into flying. After she received her private pilot's licence from the Regina Flying Club in 2001, Kristen moved to Calgary where she received her commercial pilot's licence and an Aviation Management Diploma in 2004 from Mount Royal University. Following this, Kristen moved from Calgary to northern Manitoba where she started to fly commercially for an airline until she joined Transport Canada in 2014.
As a Transport Canada Civil Aviation Safety Inspector, Kristen is responsible for inspecting airlines to verify that they meet aviation safety rules and regulations. In this role, Kristen also promotes aviation safety in the industry by regularly talking with air operators.
“Keeping lines of communication open is really important because, like most things now with technology, the aviation world is ever-changing,” explains Kristen. “We have to talk to each other and work together because we all play important roles in keeping air travel safe.”
During the summer of 2018, Kristen attended the Global Aviation Gender Summit, which was held in South Africa and organized by the International Civil Aviation Organization. The summit focused on advancing gender equality in aviation with a goal of increasing the ratio of women in the field significantly by 2030. The summit inspired Kristen to help other young people, especially women, pursue careers in the aviation sector. Kristen jumped into action as soon as she returned from the summit. She reached out to the local school board in her town to speak to the middle schools about aviation careers. She also started volunteering for a Canada Aviation Women's group where she will have a mentoring role for women who are entering the aviation industry as well as those who currently have careers in aviation.
Another project that Kristen is undertaking is in collaboration with a colleague. They are working together on including aviation in the Annual Engineering Badge Day for the Girl Guide troops in their community. Their goal is to expose young women to aviation and engineering while they have fun, interact and achieve a badge.
“I am so passionate about the work that I do at Transport Canada and I'd love to see more women in this field,” said Kristen. “Aviation has been such a fulfilling career for me and I really want to give back and inspire others to work in the industry.”
It is not a surprise that Kristen was selected as one of Wings magazine's Top 20 under 40. Driven by her passion for aviation safety and through her ongoing contribution to the community, she is making a difference in the future of this dynamic and exciting industry.