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Leading Edge: Canada’s NextGen Aviation

As we enter 2010, and despite predictions of continued economic turbulence, we still have much to celebrate as we look to the significant progress that the Canadian aviation industry has made in technology and innovation.

January 18, 2010  By Andrea Kwasnik

As we enter 2010, and despite predictions of continued economic turbulence, we still have much to celebrate as we look to the significant progress that the Canadian aviation industry has made in technology and innovation.


One area that will continue to be a focus is innovation in training – keeping pace with advances in technology and our changing demographics. Advances in aircraft systems, new cockpit technologies, the modernization of our air traffic system, and emerging new concepts in flight training such as the multi-crew pilot licence (MPL), just to name a few, are demanding newer, safer and smarter ways of training.

Canada is a world leader in the advancement of safety and technology in training. Just a few months ago, the Air Canada Pilot’s Association hosted its inaugural International Winter Operations conference, attracting more than 200 people from 16 countries to learn about training and cold-weather operations.

Training is becoming increasingly accessible, with more and more of it now being accomplished using simulators. Scenario-based training will continue to make us smarter about safe flight decision-making. And the safety value goes well beyond that of flight training. In our last issue, we reported on two innovative simulators designed at Toronto’s DRDC – the Hercules Observer Trainer (HOT) that simulates what a Hercules Loadmaster observer sees from a Herc bubble window while scanning for threats over Afghanistan – and another, called SimON, that provides a virtual Sea King helicopter pilot to train landing signals officers in their duties.


There are encouraging indicators on the horizon for our sector. According to ICAO, the global aviation industry will experience a growth rate of 5.6 per cent per year until 2024, with emerging markets such as China, the Middle East and India containing the greatest opportunity for growth. It is projected that, by the year 2018, there will be 207,600 new pilots needing ab-initio training, and, by the year 2026, that number will have grown to 352,900.

Before the recession, we saw enormous pressure on our workforce for pilots, air traffic controllers, AMEs and other aviation professionals. As the economic situation improves, shortages will resurface at home and abroad. ICAO’s latest summary on future pilot needs for the next 20 years shows that shortages now exist in the Middle-East, Africa, Asia/Pacific, and Latin America.

The changing global picture will bring about new challenges in the areas of language standards, cultural differences, regulations and, most importantly, training. These changes will also bring about enormous business potential. However, with a shrinking workforce due to retiring baby boomers and flight school closures at home, industry experts question whether we are equipped as a nation to handle the emerging global training needs.

A new study that promises to shed some light on the issue is the 2009 Human Resource Study of the Commercial Pilot in Canada being conducted by CAMC in partnership with ATAC and HAC. The study will look at the supply and demand for pilots, and the capacity of Canada's flight training community to respond to the needs of the industry now and in the future. The final research findings will be available in May.

As part of our ongoing support for the Canadian aviation industry, we are publishing a special supplement in this issue, Careers in Aviation 2010, designed to enlighten today’s youth about the career possibilities in the industry. Written by Peter Pigott, the supplement shows different career paths available in the aviation sector, analyzes job prospects and directs students on how to get education and training.

The supplement was delivered to 3,300 high school guidance counsellors across Canada in January. In the coming weeks we are also launching a supporting website, Over the next year, we will continue to build a comprehensive list of all aviation training institutions and programs across Canada. We encourage schools to visit the website and add new information about their programs on a regular basis.

In Pigott’s words, “Canadians have taken to aircraft with a passion second only to their passion for hockey.” It is our hope that we can help foster this passion in a new generation of students who will become Canada’s future aviation professionals.

5 TOP DATA BURSTS in this issue

1. WAAS equipment installation and upgrades typically cost $175,000 to $200,000 (pg. 18). 2. Dubai air show’s onsite order book topped US$14 billion (pg. 23). 3. Honeywell’s Ovation Series cabin management system uses a gigabyte Ethernet backbone (pg. 31). 4. Ice crystals can lead to engine power loss in jet airliners (pg. 33). 5. JetPro has designed GPS and WAAS approaches at more than 60 Canadian airports (pg. 35).



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