Deborah Lawrie

Deborah Lawrie BSc, BEd, ATPL, FRAeS, MAP

Deborah learnt to fly in 1969 when she was 16 years old. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Melbourne University and later completed a Bachelor of Education and a Diploma of Transport. She taught Mathematics and Physics at secondary school level during the mid-70’s and was a general aviation flying instructor from 1976 until 1979.

Deborah applied to become a pilot with the domestic airlines in Australia but was refused on the grounds that airlines believed male crews would be safer. Deborah challenged the airlines and in 1979 she became the subject of the first contested equal opportunity anti-discrimination case in Australia. The very public legal battle; Wardley Vs Ansett, lasted for more than a year. After the High Court ruled in her favor, Deborah joined Ansett Airlines to become the first female airline pilot for a major airline in Australia. Deborah’s autobiography of the court battle was published in 1992.

In 1989 the Australian pilot’s dispute disrupted the careers of almost every domestic airline pilot. As a result Deborah joined KLM Cityhopper in The Netherlands. She was a training Captain on the Fokker 50 for four years and later she flew the Fokker 70 / 100 as a line Captain. In 1998 Deborah completed the Cranfield University Aircraft Accident Investigation Course. She held the position of Flight Safety Manager for 4 years and was the Chief Flight Safety Investigator for 8 years. Deborah was also chairman of the European Regions Airlines Association Air Safety Working Group from 1998-2004 and she was a member of the IATA Aircraft Accident Classification Working Group. In 2005 she transferred to KLM mainline where she flew the A330 to several countries around the world.

In 2003 Deborah was the lead developer of an Airline Incident Investigation Course which continues to be delivered to several airline operators around the world. In 2004 Deborah was part of a team that was commissioned by the government of The Netherlands to bring the Latvian aviation regulator’s knowledge and standard of aircraft accident investigation in line with European standards.

In 2008 Deborah returned to Australia and joined Jetstar Airways as the Manager of Safety Investigations. She went back to the line after 1 year and flew the A320 based in Christchurch New Zealand. In July of 2012 Deborah joined Tiger Airways and is currently a Check and Training Captain on the A320 based in Sydney.

Deborah is currently married with 1 son from a previous marriage. She has 39 years of airline experience, has in excess of 18,000 hours in her log book and has flown the F27, F50, F70/100, DC9, B737, B727, A320 and A330.