Scott: Splash of Cold Water
October 1, 2007 By John R. Scott
To provide readers with an acceptable perspective of the current
condition of pilot training in Canada, I checked back to the last three
years of articles I have written for this theme edition. In these
articles I have ranted about the plight of the individual who wants to
embark on a career as a pilot – the costs, dedication, challenges of
finding the right flight school, not being ripped off by ‘questionable
business practices’ at some locations.
did I choose that direction? It was because I had watched my son take
this road, and so viewed first-hand the many obstacles confronting
these wide-eyed dreamers who see that swarthy Air Canada captain
strutting down the corridor of the terminal pulling his flight bag on
wheels (that’s where he keeps his wallet and real estate deals).
Realistic? I doubt it. But one has to establish a target somewhere,
otherwise the horizon is perpetually obscured.
Three years ago,
I was operating as a captain of what I thought to be the best company
in the country. Canada 3000 had future. It had a professional cadre and
level of standardization that was a target for all others to achieve.
It had a mission statement. It had a vision. (WestJet is the only
aviation company today where I could find a vision or mission statement
in the company philosophy.) That company is now gone. Only about 30% of
the professional ATPL pilots who were with Canada 3000 are currently
employed as pilots.
So where is the link to training from this?
Well, three years ago a post-secondary student could look eagerly
toward an aviation career because there were many slots opening as
companies expanded. (Now the student has to hold a degree for some
carriers.) This allowed many more chances for a newly trained
commercial pilot with a Cat 4 instructor rating to at least look to a
possible future. The technicians, ground handlers, and all
service-related trades also had better opportunities to establish
themselves in careers. Training schools and colleges were enjoying
higher intake levels and in some cases having to restrict numbers of
students – a unique but enjoyable situation.