Kenya Airways Captain Irene Koki Mutungi has been recognised as the winner of the Africa Top Travel 100 Women for 2017.
Captain Mutungi is also Africa’s first female Boeing-787 Dreamliner captain and after graduating high school in 1992, at the age of 17, she enrolled in flight school at Nairobi’s Wilson Airport where she obtained her Private Pilot’s License. She continued her pilot education in Oklahoma City in the United States where she was awarded the Commercial Pilot’s License, by the Federal Aviation Authority.
Captain Mutungi returned to Kenya in 1995 and was hired by Kenya Airways, as their first female pilot. She was the only female pilot at the airline for the next six years.In 2004, she became the first African woman to qualify to captain a commercial aircraft, when she qualified to command the Boeing 737. She has since qualified to command the Boeing 767. She then took the conversion course which allowed her to transition to commanding a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Kenya Airways then promoted her to Captain of the B787, making her the first African female Boeing 787 Captain in the world.
Her motivation to become a commercial pilot was developed when she was five years old, by observing her father, a pilot for Kenya Airways at that time. Captain Mutungi, who is also a mom, enjoys flying and mentoring others, especially female pilots. In September 2014, Mutungi was one of 39 pilots at Kenya Airways, out of a total of 530 and she was the designated Captain on the Nairobi to Paris route on the B787.
In December 2014, she was named among “The 20 Youngest Power Women In Africa 2014”, by Forbes Magazine.