Wings Magazine

Careers in Aviation Aviation This Week
Supporting the Aircraft

For those looking for a career in aviation but are not interested in become a pilot or involved in aircraft development or maintenance, connected industries offer many worthwhile careers, such as airport management, ramp support and flight dispatch. Here are a sampling of vocations and educational opportunities to consider.

January 5, 2018  By Stacy Bradshaw

Aircraft maintenance crew
Depending on the size of airplane, a team of up to 35 ramp attendants will offload an arriving flight and ready the airplane to receive a new load of passengers. An aircraft maintenance crew will marshal aircraft to and from the gate, manoeuvre the air bridge, operate a fleet of vehicles including tow trucks and catering trucks, attach nozzles to the aircraft to pump lavatory waste out, unload hundreds of passenger bags and tonnes of air freight, refuel and clean the cabin.

Airlines, third-party air service providers or airport authorities employ most ramp attendants. It is demanding physical work and airlines typically have standards on how much a candidate is able to lift on a regular basis.

Flight operations dispatch
A flight dispatcher is like a ground captain, except where the captain is operating a single aircraft. An airline dispatcher can be responsible for up to 50 aircraft during a single shift, including charting routes and alternates, calculating fuel loads and aircraft weight, monitoring flights (known as “flight watch”) and making decisions whether to divert or cancel flights if an aircraft cannot continue to operate safely. A dispatcher is also plugged into air traffic control to ensure the most efficient routings and minimize air traffic control delays.

Air navigation
The airport control tower is the most visible piece of air navigation infrastructure, but is just the tip of the iceberg. NAV CANADA is the country’s private sector civil air navigation service provider with operations from coast to coast to coast. NAV CANADA manages 18 million square kilometres of domestic and international airspace assigned to Canadian control through a network of air traffic control towers, area control centres, flight information centres, flight service stations and maintenance centres. With 12 million aircraft movements annually, NAV CANADA is the second largest air navigation service worldwide by traffic volume.


Air navigation employees provide air traffic control, flight information, weather briefings, aeronautical information services, airport advisory services and electronic aids to navigation. NAV CANADA also has a demand for technologists and engineers. NAVCANatm, a systems management subsidiary, has sold and installed Canadian made air navigation systems technology around the world. Area air traffic controllers coordinate the safe, efficient and orderly flow of air traffic from seven Area Control Centres across Canada. Airport air traffic controllers operate from one of 41 air traffic control towers at airports across the country, keeping an eye over every approach, departure and taxiway.

Educational and training opportunities

Before controlling, directing and advising aircraft in Canadian air space, air traffic controllers and flight service specialists go through intensive training programs that last anywhere between one- and two-and-a-half years. The curriculum and duration of NAV CANADA’s training programs depend on the stream a student is selected for. All streams require focus, hard work and commitment. Training is delivered on a full-time basis. Class times vary by location, but they are typically eight hours a day. Students can also expect to put in additional study and simulator time to prepare for next day’s classes.

Learn more:

The award-winning BCIT diploma program in airport operations is designed to meet the demands of today’s unique global airport operation environment. The 16-month Airport Operations program is supported and approved by the aviation industry and provides students with a comprehensive, interdisciplinary program of study. This is the only program of its type in Western Canada. BCIT also offers an online Airport Operations part-time studies Association Certificate.

Learn more:

AVIATION MANAGEMENT, Georgian College, Barrie, Ont.
The Canadian Aviation Institute (CAvI) at Georgian College is a national centre of aviation management training and education. Graduates of CAvI work in a variety of aviation fields including airport management, aviation operations, airport planning and air traffic control. Commercial pilots, flight dispatch, flight services specialists and many other aviation-related occupations have benefited from this additional enhancement to their chosen career field. Located in Barrie, Ont., the three-year Aviation Management diploma program provides students with a solid understanding of the aviation industry.

Learn more:

FLIGHT SERVICES, Seneca College, Toronto, Ont.
The Flight Services program encourages students to develop career-related skills, knowledge and behaviours to effectively perform a variety of functions required in providing exceptional passenger service representative, check-in agent or reservation agent roles. The Operations and Cabin Management diploma program also encourages students to develop career-related skills, knowledge and sound safety for a variety of positions in the airline industry.


Stories continue below