Government Notices Pilot Shortage

An internal report is suggesting the federal government subsidize flight training programs to ensure an adequate supply of airline pilots. The briefing note, obtained through an Access to Information Act request by The Canadian Press, says the current production of about 800 new right seaters a year is about 600-per-year short of the projected need and prompted some research on skills training. The probe informed the feds what those in the industry have been telling them for years: flight training is prohibitively expensive for many of those who would like to pursue an airline career.

The briefing note suggests that Canada adopt an approach taken by some other countries where the government and airlines partner to pay for pilot training, but aviation groups have suggested more modest plans that would ease the financial burden enough to attract more candidates. John McKenna, president of the Air Transport Association of Canada, said his group thinks the pipeline could be filled for a relatively modest $5 million a year by the government guaranteeing loans from banks for qualified students or to cover the interest payments. There has also been a call for student loans to be made available to pilot trainees that cover the full cost of the programs.