The new flyover into Sydney Airport’s domestic precinct has been named after Australia’s first female commercial airline pilot, Deborah Lawrie.

Deborah Lawrie was the first woman in Australia to become a pilot for a commercial airline, but this only happened after a ground-breaking legal battle.

Despite being qualified, Deborah Lawrie’s applications to be a pilot were repeatedly rejected due to her gender. In 1979, she won Australia’s first successful High Court sex discrimination case for employment, a decision that paved the way for women to get equal rights in workplaces across the country. Lawrie again made history on January 22, 1980, when she co-piloted an Ansett flight from Alice Springs to Darwin.

The Deborah Lawrie Flyover has been named in recognition of her significant service to aviation and her advocacy for gender equality.

The flyover features Aboriginal artwork designed by Dennis Golding and Carmen Glynn-Braun from the Re-Right Collective. Undertaken in partnership with the La Perouse elders and cultural advisors, this is intended to make it an eye-catching piece of infrastructure. The 800m-long flyover will streamline access to the T2 and T3 domestic terminals.

Deborah Lawrie at Sydney Flyover launch

Pilot Deborah Lawrie speaking at the unveiling of the flyover named in her honour

Pilot Deborah Lawrie AM said: “If someone had said to me way back when I was 25, taking on Ansett in the High Court to become a commercial airline pilot, that one day there would be a flyover into Sydney Airport named after me, I would have thought they were mad.”

“I am very honoured and humbled by the incredible gesture to name this impressive flyover after me and I hope I can continue to inspire future generations of aviators.

“To me, the flyover is like a gentle descending turn onto final approach, an engineering masterpiece.”

The flyover is part of the NSW government’s A$2.6bn Sydney Gateway project, designed to improve traffic flow and reduce travel times.

Images: Sydney Airport