(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

Police looking for missing Surrey girl Nikita Joseph, 13

She has gone missing before. This time, she was last seen 3 p.m. Jan. 22, in 6400-block of 121st Street

Surrey MLA says she’s still in the dark about RCMP investigation

More than three months have passed since Jinny Sims resigned as minister of citizens’ service on Oct. 4

Choices in dying under review in Canada; online survey closes Jan. 27

Semiahmoo Peninsula ALS sufferer Earl Ready chose medically assisted death

COLUMN: The best day to be blue – you do the math

There’s an official day for everything but, it turns out, ‘Blue Monday’ is a bit of a sham

B.C.-based firefighting plane crashes in Australia, killing three

Three people are confirmed dead in the crash in New South Wales

Canada prepares as WHO decides whether to declare global coronavirus emergency

The city of Wuhan, China, has shut down outbound flights and trains

Survey finds support among Canadians for broader assisted-dying law

The survey was conducted Jan. 17 to 21 among 1,552 Canadians eligible to vote

Veteran B.C. journalist battles cancer through pioneering immunotherapy treatment

Vancouver Island rallies around JR Rardon and family during stay in Seattle

New nasal spray launched in Canada to combat hypoglycemic shock in diabetics

Baqsimi is a nasal spray contains three milligrams of glucagon

Prices for recreational marijuana in B.C. down from a year ago

New inflation figures show gasoline, housing and certain kinds of food cost more

B.C. RCMP spent roughly $750K on massive manhunt for Port Alberni men

Manitoba RCMP helped with 17-day search through the province’s northern terrain

Much-raided Langley animal rescue society loses registered charitable status

Revoked following an audit by Canada Revenue Agency, records show

Most Read