Canadian flight training schools are facing numerous challenges that, if addressed, would assist in addressing Canada’s pilot shortage that is affecting not only commercial aviation but also the military, as well as remote communities that rely on air transport for food, medicine and other goods.
Projections by The Canadian Council for Aviation & Aerospace indicate that the Canadian Aviation industry will face a shortfall of close to 3,000 pilots by the year 2025. Furthermore, these estimates do not reflect the potential impact of new flight duty time regulations which, if implemented as planned, it is reported that this will further exacerbate the current shortage and increase the numbers of new pilots already required by almost 30%.
In April 2019, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities tabled Report 29 Supporting Canada’s Flight Schools outlining the challenges facing flight training schools in Canada and provided numerous recommendations that would “support and encourage the growth of Canada’s flight training industry.”
Witnesses identified a shortage of flight instructors, the underrepresentation of women and Indigenous people among Canadian pilots, and insufficient support for remote and Northern air operators as key issues facing flight schools. The committee recommends incentives to promote flight instruction as a career path, outreach programs targeted to underrepresented groups as well as sector-specific initiatives to support remote and Northern operations.
This study also revealed barriers to the use of new technologies in flight training, as well as several regulatory and taxation challenges facing Canada’s flight schools. The committee recommends supporting the development of new technologies, as well as regulatory modernization to allow their appropriate use in flight training.
Financial considerations are a significant barrier to both potential students and flight schools. The committee recommends increased support to flight schools to assist with high capital costs, as well as increased funding through the Airport Capital Assistance Program. The committee also recommends several changes to existing financial assistance programs to ensure eligibility for flight training programs for employment purposes.
Witnesses also raised the issue of retaining international flight students, as well as concerns regarding safety and working conditions for new pilots. The committee recommends a simplified immigration process for foreign pilots, particularly those who have graduated from Canadian flight schools.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce calls on the Federal Government to:
- Increase support to flight schools in remote and Northern communities through targeted outreach programs, economic incentives to assist new and existing schools with capital costs, sector-specific training guidelines for Northern flight operations and local forgiveness programs for new pilots serving with Northern operators;
- Support the development of new technologies in flight training, such as flight training devises, electric aircraft and alternative biofuel;
- Modernize current flight training regulations to allow, when appropriate, the use of new technologies in flight training;
- Increase the level of funding available through the Airport Capital Assistance Program, to reflect the recommendations of the 2015 Canada Transportation Act Review Panel;
- Introduce 100 per cent bonus depreciation for certain capital assets for flight schools to allow the write-off of equipment purchases such as flight simulators and training aircraft;
- Establish a clear framework to simplify and encourage immigration by foreign pilots, particularly international graduates of Canadian flight schools;
- Work in co-operation with provincial, municipal and territorial authorities to:
- Support outreach activities to encourage under-represented groups such as veterans, women and Indigenous people to consider careers in the aviation industry;
- Provide increased support to Canada’s flight schools and establish economic incentives to assist with the high capital costs associated with the establishment, operation and expansion of flight schools;
- Amend the terms of the Canada Student Loans Program to include in-air instruction time as instructional time for the purpose of loan eligibility;
- Extend the Student Work Placement program to flight training for employment purposes;
- Extend the Veterans’ Affairs Canada Education and Training Benefit to flight training for employment purposes; and
- Establish financial assistance programs or amend existing programs to assist professional students with the high cost of flight instruction through expanded eligibility criteria which recognize the integral role of Private Pilot’s Licence training in training commercial pilots.
Co-sponsor: Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce, Timmins Chamber of Commerce
 CCAA Labour Market Information Report 2018 https://www.avaerocouncil.ca/en/lmi
 Report 29: Supporting Canada’s Flight Schools https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/TRAN/report-29/