Open Letter from Heather Bell, Chair, to BC’s Flight Training Schools

posted 13 days ago.

Good Afternoon

I am contacting you today as the Board Chair of the British Columbia Aviation Council. We have heard from our members in the Flight Training Sector and from our small to medium Air Operators about the challenges being faced due to the shortage of aviation professionals, particularly line pilots and flight instructors.

We are reaching out to our BC regional Flight Training Schools in hopes of opening or continuing the dialogue around this Labour shortage. With the Vision of the BCAC in mind (an Aviation and Aerospace Industry that is Visible, Connected and Thriving)we wanted to make you aware of some of the steps that BCAC is undertaking to attempt to address this critical situation. As a voice of and advocate for our members, BCAC is participating with the Federal Government with two Members of the Board sitting on the Transport Canada Steering Committee on the Aviation Labour Shortage. We have also recently met with the BC Minister of Transportation and are actively seeking an audience with the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. We are advocating that Government(s) make efforts to remove or assist in removing some of the existing barriers to entry for people wishing to pursue careers in aviation. In relation to pilot training, we have suggested, as a starting point, that the BC Government ease access to student loan funding. We have pointed to the Alberta Government where funding access is more on par with that which can be accessed by students pursuing a four-year undergraduate program. This is in stark contrast to BC where the funding available is limited because the Pilot Training program is considered to be of “short duration” so the funding is based on a seventeen-week program, irrespective of actual cost.

Additionally, as the Board Chair I have been asked to appear before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities to speak on the following motion before the House:

That the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities be instructed to undertake a study of flight training schools in Canada and be mandated to: (i) identify the challenges that flight schools are facing in providing trained pilots to industry, (ii) determine whether the infrastructure available to flight schools meets the needs of the schools and the communities where they are located

I know several Flight Training Schools from across the country have already presented to this committee, as well as many other Aviation organizations. The consistent message is that there needs to be funding support for student pilots, incentives to assist in recruitment and retention of instructors as well as assistance to organizations to ensure adequate funding for purchase and updating of infrastructure. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any local or specific information you feel would be advantageous to add to this collective message.

We also believe there are opportunities if we act to increase diversity across our Industry. We are collaborating with organizations advocating gender diversity and are partnering in an initiative to introduce careers in aviation to Indigenous youth. Please see the links below if you would like to know more about these initiatives.

Gender Diversity: http://www.elevateaviation.ca/

Indigenous Youth Taking Flight: http://www.givethemwings.ca/

Please know that as your Aviation Council we are here to assist in any way that we can and are working hard to ensure this Industry remains a vibrant and sustainable part of the British Columbia economy.

If there are issues you would like us to bring before the Provincial or Federal Government, or if you have ideas or information that could assist us in our efforts, please contact us through our Executive Director Dave Frank @dfrank@bcaviationcouncil.org or by responding to this email.

As background, I am attaching the CCAA (Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace) Labour Market Information Report and a link to a recent Maclean’s Magazine Opinion piece on the pilot-training crisis. https://www.macleans.ca/opinion/canadas-aviation-industry-faces-existential-headwinds-and-that-affects-you/

We will provide more information as it becomes available and will be focusing on initiatives around the Labour Shortages at our upcoming Spring Conference, May 12-14, 2019, in Kelowna. Please keep an eye on our website for information and registration for this event. https://www.bcaviationcouncil.org

Thank you for your time, please feel free to forward this email to any interested Industry colleagues and I look forward to hearing from you.

Best,

Heather Bell

Board Chair, BCAC

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