(Nick Pescod/Nanaimo Bulletin)

Pilot shortage can’t be addressed by existing programs, docs suggest

Should governments and airlines help pay for training?

Federal officials combing through skills training programs have concluded major changes are needed if those are to be used to address a shortage of airline pilots.

Instead, officials are suggesting a strategy being used by other countries as a way for Canada to address a growing need for pilots: governments and airlines partner to pay for pilot training.

The funds — either dedicated financing or government-industry training programs — in turn could ensure “that a sufficient supply of trained pilots can sustain the current and projected demand,” reads the briefing note The Canadian Press obtained through the Access to Information Act.

The cost of training can be fully or partially covered, and pilots typically owe airlines a certain number of years of service in return.

John McKenna, president and CEO of the Air Transport Association of Canada, said his group has asked the government to guarantee private loans from banks to qualified students or forgive interest payments.

The association pegs the annual cost to government at $5 million, based on 10 per cent of students failing to finish training, but is hoping to keep those figures far lower through strict candidate screening.

“For $5 million, the government could help train 600 people a year. We add 600 people a year, every year, and we’re going to largely solve the shortage in Canada,” McKenna said.

Industry estimates say Canada will need 7,300 new commercial pilots by 2025 as demand for air travel increases, but will fall 3,000 short of that mark.

That number doesn’t take into account new rules around rest periods for pilots, which kick in one year from now.

Worldwide, the global demand for new pilots is expected to hit 255,000 by 2027, with most yet to start the long process of training and logging flying hours.

But a July briefing note to a senior official at Employment and Social Development Canada says existing government programs “are not well suited” to help train more pilots.

Nor do the programs address the high cost to earn a commercial license in Canada, which can range from $80,000 and $95,000.

KEEP READING: Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

In September, the government announced up to $4.9 million over three years for the First Nations Technical Institute to expand its commercial pilot training program and double the number of students.

Edmonton-based non-profit Elevate Aviation was given $400,000 to develop a plan to attract and retain more women to the sector.

A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Marc Garneau said officials are looking at other ways to redo training programs in the sector.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Timber Sales’ operations on the North Island and Central Coast to be audited

The Forest Practices Board randomly chose the region to check for compliance to legislation

BC Ferries Sailing Cancellations

Prince Rupert - Haida Gwaii - Northern Adventure

Month-long water quality advisory still in effect for Rupert residents

The City of Prince Rupert recommends those with weakened immune systems boil water prior to use

Jennifer Rice North Coast MLA seeks re-election

Northwest politicians announce intent on elections

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

181 days gone: Family continues to look for man last seen in RCMP custody 6 months ago

Brandon Sakebow’s last known location was leaving Mission RCMP cell, police say; family has doubts

B.C. unveils new cannabis sales programs to help small, Indigenous growers

Government did not say how it will define small producers, but says nurseries will be included in the policy

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Most Read