Good morning, Madam Chair and members of the committee. My name is Murray Strom. I'm vice-president of flight operations at Air Canada.
I have overall responsibility for all aspects of safe flying operations across Air Canada's mainline fleet. I'm the airline's designated operations manager, responsible to the for the management of our air operator's certificate and liaison with the international regulatory agencies with which Air Canada operates.
I'm an active Air Canada pilot and presently a triple-7 captain. I operate to all of Air Canada's international destinations.
I'm joined today by my colleague Sam Elfassy, vice-president of safety.
We are pleased to be here today to provide context to our operations and to answer any questions related to the committee's study on the impact of aircraft noise in the vicinity of major Canadian airports.
Since 2001, Air Canada has been an advocate of the balanced approach to aircraft noise management that was developed by ICAO, based in Montreal. The balanced approach is founded on four elements for noise around airports: noise reduction at source, land use management and planning, noise abatement operational procedures, and operating restrictions.
To effectively manage the impact of aircraft noise on communities takes the concerted effort of all parties involved, including airports, Nav Canada, government, and airline communities.
The biggest impact an airline can have is by reducing noise with new aircraft and technology and by supporting the development and implementation of effective noise abatement operational procedures.
Over the years, aircraft manufacturers have made significant progress to reduce aircraft noise. Aircraft today are 75% quieter than they were 50 years ago. Since 2007, Air Canada has invested more than $15 billion to modernize its fleet with new aircraft, such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Boeing 737 MAX. Supporting many jobs in the Canadian aerospace industry, these aircraft are the quietest in their respective categories. For example, the Dreamliner is more than 60% quieter than other similar airplanes from past years.
In addition to Air Canada's fleet renewal program, we've also been modernizing our A320 jets with new cavity vortex generators since 2015. Newer A320s are in the process of being retrofitted as they undergo maintenance, while older A320s are being retired.
Maintenance schedules are planned months and years in advance, and in order to consider manufacturing schedules and commercial realities, Air Canada had planned originally to retrofit all its A320 aircraft by the end of 2020. However, due to lack of available kits from Airbus, we are now operating under the following schedule: 15% of our fleet completed by the end of 2018, 50% by the end of 2019, 80% by the end of 2020, and the remainder in 2021.
Air Canada is committed to completing this program on an expedited basis. However, we are limited by maintenance schedules and the availability of the vortex kits from the manufacturer. It is important to note that while the program is under way, Air Canada is replacing A320s with quieter, more efficient 737 MAX aircraft and the Canadian-made A220s formerly known as the Bombardier C Series.
Renewing and upgrading our fleet is also reducing greenhouse gases, an important goal for Air Canada, Canadians, and the government. Once this process is complete, our fleet will be among the most fuel-efficient in the world. By the end of 2019 we will have also completed the upgrade of our flight management and guidance systems and the satellite-based navigation systems of our Airbus narrow-body fleet.
These updates will enable the aircraft to fully participate in performance-based navigation initiatives being implemented in airports across the country. This improves fuel efficiency, reduces greenhouse gases, and also reduces noise.
Air carriers operate with the highest safety standards. Our pilots must comply with the navigation and noise abatement procedures set by Nav Canada and airports at all times. We contribute to this process, informed by the balanced approach and Transport Canada's guidelines for implementation of the new and amended abatement procedures.
We also participate in the Toronto industry noise abatement board that provides the technical forum to analyze and consider the operational impact of many of the noise mitigation techniques. We also extend technical expertise to the board and support the effort, with the use of our simulators, to test the proposed approaches.
Another important element of the balanced approach is land use planning. Appropriate land use planning policies are critical to preserve the noise reductions achieved through this $15-billion investment in new aircraft. It is important that local governments and airport authorities work together to prevent further urban encroachment around the airports.
Finally, we must recognize that demand for air travel is on the rise worldwide. In fact, IATA predicts the global passenger demand for air travel will surge from $4 billion in 2017 to over $7.8 billion in 2036. Air travel is no longer a luxury. It is for everyone. It is the middle class that is driving this growth. It is an efficient and cost-effective way to travel; connects family, business people and communities; and promotes trade and tourism. Air travel reduces travel time from days to mere hours. It builds economies. Consider that in Toronto alone, Air Canada connects Canadians to more than 220 destinations directly and that Canada has three airports among the top 50 most connected in the world.
In closing, I'd like to say that Air Canada is proud of its role in Canadian aviation as a global champion for Canada and is proud of its contribution to the national economy. We remain committed to improving our operation in all aspects and live by our motto of “Fly the Flag”.
Good morning, Madam Chair and members of the committee.
My name is Captain Scott Wilson. I serve as WestJet's vice-president of flight operations and operations manager, responsible for the safety and oversight of WestJet's fleets and daily operations. I also maintain currency as a Boeing 737 pilot across our domestic and international networks.
Thank you for the opportunity to address the committee this morning.
WestJet is very proud of the positive impact we've had on Canadians by offering travellers more choice, lower airfares and the opportunity to connect families and business people, both within Canada and beyond. WestJet is extremely proud of our track record of operating safely and with respect for the environment and for the communities that we serve. This includes a commitment to operate in a way that minimizes the noise footprint from our aircraft in all phases of flight, with particular emphasis on the approach and departure phases.
As an airline, we recognize that we operate within a large and complex ecosystem made up of many partners and stakeholders, including airports and airport authorities, air traffic service providers around the world, aircraft manufacturers, all three levels of government, and of course regulators here in Canada, as well as those in the foreign jurisdictions in which we fly.
I'm sorry. I'm talking like a pilot. I will slow down.
I will begin by outlining our ongoing community consultation process and the way we incorporate public feedback in our discussions and decisions. I'll provide the committee with information about our fleet, how our ongoing investment in the most modern aircraft available helps to reduce noise, and how we operate those aircraft to best minimize the noise footprint over the communities we serve.
Along with Nav Canada and the Canadian Airports Council, WestJet was a key participant in developing the Airspace Change Communications and Consultation Protocol in June of 2015. This is the document that launched an industry-wide commitment to open and transparent engagement with all stakeholders in the communities we serve.
WestJet is an active participant in regular and ongoing community consultations in Canada's four largest cities: Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver. At the Vancouver airport, we are actively involved in the development of the five-year noise management plan.
In Calgary, we have given numerous presentations to community members on pilot noise mitigation responsibilities, today's aircraft technology, approach procedure design and the benefits of performance-based navigation. These have been very well received by the public. In fact, along with the Calgary Airport Authority and Nav Canada, we meet with a group of representatives from communities across Calgary every six to eight weeks to discuss aircraft noise and the operational means available to help reduce the impact of aircraft operations on noise in the environment.
On major airspace revisions, we attend open houses to field any operational questions on matters such as steeper approach profiles and variable dispersed lateral paths.
We are continuously engaged with the broader industry, including ICAO, IATA and the FAA, on their noise initiatives, and we attend noise conferences to ensure that we remain current with the latest procedures and technologies.
As my partner at Air Canada mentioned, it is worth mentioning that today's newer-generation aircraft have seen a 90% reduction in noise footprint compared to jet aircraft that first flew over Canada in the 1960s.
WestJet has invested heavily in new state-of-the-art aircraft, including the Boeing 737 Next Generation, or NG, as well as the Boeing 737 MAX narrow-body aircraft. In January, we'll deliver the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which includes significant noise-reduction features.
For example, the new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft has a 40% smaller noise footprint than even its most recent 737 family member, the NG. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner will have a 60% smaller noise footprint than the Boeing 767 aircraft it will replace in the WestJet fleet.
Aircraft noise is reduced by improvements to aerodynamics and through weight-saving technologies. These improvements allow aircraft to climb higher and faster on takeoff, with less engine thrust. The addition of newer, quiet, high-bypass ratio engines with noise-reducing chevrons on the engine exhaust ensures the lowest noise footprint possible.
Low-speed devices, such as flaps on the wings, are designed to ensure minimum airframe noise during the landing phase, when aircraft are at their lowest and slowest over our communities.
Other aerodynamic and weight-saving technologies also contribute to better takeoff and landing performance. This enables lower noise footprints for the communities around the airports we serve. These investments bring dual benefits of noise pollution and lower carbon emissions, ensuring that aviation remains at the forefront of environmental innovation.
All pilots are trained to strictly adhere to Transport Canada's published noise abatement procedures at every Canadian airport. Without exception, prior to every approach or departure to be flown, pilots specifically brief considerations to help mitigate noise, including the vertical and lateral profiles to be flown.
WestJet invested early in a tailored required navigation program, or RNP. This pioneered the capability in Canada in 2004 in developing RNP procedures at 20 Canadian airports. New RNP AR approaches incorporate vertical profiles with constant descent angles that are flown at very low thrust settings, with no level segments. Laterally, they are designed to avoid noise-sensitive areas below our flight paths.
WestJet was a key contributor to Nav Canada's public RNP program, which by the end of 2020 will see 24 Canadian airports served by RNP approaches during multiple approach transitions.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the members of the committee for the opportunity to share our story today as it relates to noise mitigation. We are proud of the work we have accomplished and continue to do in this important area.
I would like to also reinforce once more that we remain committed to the safe and responsible operation of our airline, including further investment in fleet, innovation in noise reduction and fuel-efficient technologies, and ongoing consultation and collaboration with the communities we serve.
Thank you, and I look forward to your questions.
I'd like to comment. Thank you for the question.
I've been flying into Frankfurt for 25 years. Frankfurt is a very robust hub.
The one thing I wanted to start talking about is the difference between noise 25 years ago and noise today. It's completely different.
We're very fortunate that we have two robust airlines that can afford to spend, in our case, $15 billion on new aircraft. That is the key to noise abatement. You can see a 60% noise reduction, or up to a 90% noise reduction compared to the old stage 3. That's the biggest single thing we can do as an airline, and with the support of the House of Commons, we've been able to do that.
When I flew into Frankfurt 25 years ago, there was a whole section of cargo airplanes flying in Frankfurt. When I fly in there today, there are none. All the jobs associated with those cargo airplanes and the night-time flying disappeared. They have gone elsewhere.
The biggest change I've noticed is that it hasn't changed my operation, because we don't fly cargo airplanes. What has changed is the loss of thousands and thousands of jobs in Frankfurt because of this.
I'd like to ask you about a more personal situation. I represent a Calgary riding, and I know both of you are familiar with Calgary approaches.
Since the new runway, the approaches have changed, certainly, from the west side. My riding, which is a half an hour's drive from the airport, is now under a flight path that is giving me no end of grief from my residents, despite what you're saying about reduced noise over the past few years.
One of the things that I asked Nav Canada was why they couldn't move that flight path five miles to the west, where very few people live, and if they needed to, five miles to the east, coming in on the other side, where very few people live. They maintained, if I'm correct, that there were safety issues, but there were also airline requests for those particular pathways.
Can you tell me, in each case, whether moving that approach five miles to the west and east is feasible? If not, why not? If it is, why aren't they doing it?
Maybe I'll start with that and allow Mr. Strom to follow.
When you take a look at Calgary, obviously you see we have terrain considerations with the Rocky Mountains to the west of us. As long as we can maintain the proper separation and the proper terrain clearance on the way in, there should be no safety considerations of moving an approach path closer to the airport one way or the other.
When we do look, though, at what is optimum for allowing an approach path, which is to keep the arrival rates up and the efficiency of the airport up, obviously what we also look for is the shortest number of track miles coming into an arrival, which is basically a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. That usually becomes one of the priorities for the approach as we come into the city or the community.
I don't believe it's safety considerations, but there would be loss of an efficiency and more greenhouse gas emissions over the communities where we fly.
It looks like a clip that you put on the wing, but in order to put that clip on, you have to secure it inside the wing. This means that generally an aircraft has to be in a major overhaul, because you have to drain the fuel tank of all the fuel and you have to open up the entire wing. Then you have to have individuals climb into the wing to secure it and hook it up.
Airbus, right now, has a shortage. We had a plan in place. Just like with everything, it takes time to get the plan in place. Unfortunately, Airbus doesn't have the kits. We've asked Airbus if we can manufacture our own kits, and they told us that we can't. It owns the patent on the kit.
We're doing everything we can—trust me—to get this installed as soon as possible. I know more about these generators now than I ever wanted to know about them. Again, it's a 3% reduction in noise, whereas a new airplane is 60%, so that's where Air Canada has really put its efforts.
Yes, it's one of the greatest innovations, I think, that we'll see, particularly as it pertains to safety, noise and carbon footprints.
RNP approaches are unique in many ways. The first thing is, of course, that it utilizes the satellite constellation, the navigation capability of the aircraft and the training of the pilots. There are no ground-based requirements whatsoever. It allows you to basically use different separation for terrain, and Calgary is quite unique. We actually have the first approaches in the world that have been qualified to do what's called RNP on arrival, which allows us to basically do the curved approaches and have reduced separation that way.
What it also allows us to do is either avoid terrain or avoid noise-sensitive areas. The benefit, of course, is that you not only are always in constant descent, which keeps the thrust back and the noise down, but you also can basically curve the path as required. Straight-in approaches are required when you have, say, ground-based navigation systems such as an ILS, an instrument landing system. The benefit of RNP is that we can tailor it uniquely to the situation that we're working in—the airport environment, the communities, etc.—while gaining greater efficiency and safety, and the smallest noise footprint possible.
I would like to ask you a question about noise management. I am from Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, and you can be sure that I am well aware of the problems with noise from flight schools. A number of witnesses have said that Transport Canada has kind of left noise management to the communities or to the not-for-profit organizations that run the airports.
Would you like Transport Canada to better regulate those activities and establish standards for noise? I am thinking, for example, about the requests that people living near the Dorval airport made this spring. They complained that noise monitors were being installed as the airport saw fit.
If Transport Canada were to establish standards and more centralized regulation, would that help to ease those ongoing conflicts? When you live next to an airport, of course, you know that there will be noise. But would certain measures not be better enforced if Transport Canada were more involved?
First of all, thanks, gentlemen, for being here this morning. Thank you, Chair.
My question is for Mr. Strom.
Aircraft noise is not an issue in my area of Newfoundland and Labrador, specifically Gander airport, particularly since Air Canada cancelled morning flights and night flights, which makes life very difficult for travellers and for the business community trying to get out of the province and into other parts of the country. It makes life very difficult for me as an MP. It really cut my two-day weekends down to one day, because I cannot get back on the island on a Thursday night.
I want to know, Mr. Strom, what might be the rationale for cutting these flights?
Just from past experience when I used to program radio stations, I know that women handle noise or annoyance differently from men; they will react differently. As well, we've come through an era—I would call it the ear-damaged generation—when people have been subjecting themselves to very loud stereos in their cars or personal devices and everything else.
You would wonder whether perhaps part of what you're experiencing, with the level of complaints going up even with quieter planes, is with people who have somehow altered their hearing with these other devices, making them more susceptible to the noise. I'll ask you to comment on that.
Also, if you're a member of the flight crew and you're in the cabin, you're dealing with a constant level of noise throughout the whole journey, whereas if you're on the ground, it's sporadic. There's noise, then there isn't noise, and then there's noise again. Has that been examined in the course of trying to come up with an overall management plan for noise at airports?
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Gentlemen, you may not be aware, but you will probably not be surprised to learn that I am currently making a lot of effort to bring all parties together around the problem of global warming. The Conservatives too have a point of view about it, I feel. In my opinion, we cannot deny the evidence on global warming. Before we take any measures, I would like to see the Conservative Party become involved in a serious discussion on global warming.
It is self-evident that reducing our carbon footprint comes with costs. We can clearly see that a game of political obstruction is under way. I don't think that is in anyone's interest. I will conclude simply by saying that, of course, I am going to oppose this motion. However, I am making a gesture by suggesting that the proposal be presented again once your leader has agreed to participate in the leaders' summit on global warming that I propose to hold next January.
Let us bring our meeting back to order, please.
Thank you all. I appreciate everybody's patience.
From the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, we have Bernard Gervais, president and chief executive officer; from The Ninety-Nines, Inc., International Organization of Women Pilots, we have Robin Hadfield, a director on the international board of directors and governor of the east Canada section; and we have Judy Cameron, a retired Air Canada captain, director of Northern Lights Aero Foundation, as an individual.
They will of course be speaking to motion M-177, under which we are studying the challenges facing flight schools in Canada.
Ms. Hadfield, would you like to go first? You have five minutes. When I raise my hand, please make your closing remarks.
My personal involvement as a pilot started 39 years ago and has continued in general aviation. The Hadfield family spans over 60 years in aviation, with three generations and four captains at Air Canada and with backgrounds as flying instructors, flying surveys up in the Arctic, and flying with an indigenous-owned northern Ontario commuter, Wasaya Airways, operating into the isolated reserves. It gives one a very unique perspective on my brother-in-law, who was commander on the space station.
In my background and with my family, our daily discussions centre around aviation. They've given me a very broad understanding of many of the issues facing the aviation sector.
While the motion has to do with flying schools and I do not have an in-depth background on that, within general aviation I certainly know the problems that we're hitting. What I wanted to do today was to deal with where we see problems. The Ninety-Nines is the largest and oldest organization of women pilots in the world, with over 6,000 members in pretty much every continent now.
This is not just an issue in Canada; it's an issue everywhere. I want to go through what we see as the problem and then, very quickly, what I see as the solution. We can deal with it further with questions if you want to.
The first problem is the very high cost of flight training, as you've heard in your meetings to date. Realistically, it costs $80,000 to $90,000 for a student to go from private pilot to the commercial licence with a multi-engine instrument rating. These high costs pose a special barrier, especially for students coming from households with a low income.
A solution is to make student loans that don't require collateral and co-signing available at the flying schools that are offering a diploma program, just as we have with other colleges and universities. Right now, those flying schools that do offer college programs are taken away from colleges and universities and classified as private colleges, so student loans and OSAP do not apply for them. It's creating quite a hindrance.
A precedent does exist for funding beyond loans. As you heard just the other day from, I believe, one of the pilots here—or it could have been —back in the fifties, when you got your pilot's licence, they actually gave you a rebate once you reached a commercial licence, in order to help with those costs. A student loan forgiveness program could work the same way.
We don't have enough flying instructors. The instructors working at flight schools traditionally make a starvation wage. One of the solutions is to forgive the student loan if, for example, a graduate stays and works for two years as an instructor. Perhaps they could get a 40% rebate on what their student loan forgiveness would be, and if they stayed for four years, it would increase. In the same way that we do this for doctors, nurses and teachers that go up into the north, the same type of program could apply for flight students.
One of the other issues is that there are not enough young people considering it as a career. To me, making aviation a high school credit course would make a lot of sense. I've talked to our Ministry of Education in Ontario. As a past school board trustee, I'm aware of what's going on in the high schools, and they're really missing the mark. They are clueless when it comes to aviation. While there is a program in Ontario that has aviation and aerospace, they focus completely on items that are outside of aviation itself.
There aren't enough females. That's simple. Again, we can facilitate this by raising awareness in high schools, raising the profiles of successful females as role models, having material in packages for the guidance departments and teachers—including examples of female pilots who have successful careers—and having career days that have female professional pilots present at them. Organizations such as the Ninety-Nines already facilitate this with our current programs, working in conjunction with provincial ministers and creating new programs such as our “Let's Fly Now!” program.
Using that model in Manitoba, the Manitoba chapter of the Ninety-Nines has an airplane and works with the University of Manitoba and the St. Andrews flight school. They bought a simulator. It cost $15,000. It's free for girls to come in and use for learning procedures. Within two years, they have had over 20 women receive their pilot's licence, which is more than most of the Ontario flight schools combined in terms of female pilots.
There are not enough indigenous. We need to encourage flight schools into remote areas, such as Yellowknife, Thompson, or Senneterre. Although good flying weather is vital for a flight school, we have to go where they are; they're not coming down where we are.
We don't have enough flying schools. There are insufficient facilities for potentially new flight students. We can improve the business case for expansion because we are looking at enormous global shortages of pilots. A good business case exists to offer economic incentives to expand. Low-interest loans could help with the high capital cost for expansion in such areas as hangars and training aircraft.
There are a high number of foreign students who are taking up spaces in our flight schools. I believe the number right now is that 56% of all the students in the flying schools are from other countries. The country subsidizes the students to come here. The flight schools charge almost double the amount of tuition for them, so there's no incentive for our flight schools to not take them. The foreign students are good for our economy and they're good for the local areas where they come in. However, we have to recognize that these students leave immediately after they get their licence.
Thank you. Good morning.
I will quickly tell you a little about COPA, the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, which was founded in 1952.
It's the largest aviation organization in Canada and is based in Ottawa. We have 16,000 members across the country, mostly private pilots and commercial pilots, with some airline pilots, and Commander Hadfield is our spokesperson. We're the second-largest of about 80 members of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations, with representation at ICAO. Our mission is to advance, promote and preserve the Canadian freedom to fly.
We represent general aviation in the country. General aviation is pretty much everything that is not scheduled flights and military flying; it's pilot training, agricultural flying, bush-flying operations and many others. As I said, it's anything but scheduled flights and military flying. On the civil air registry right now, out of about 36,000 aircraft, over 32,000 are general aviation aircraft. Almost 90% of the aircraft in the civil air registry are general aviation aircraft.
The impact of GA on the economy is $9.3 billion. Why am I bringing this up? It's because GA plays a niche role in pilot training.
Most flight training aircraft are also constituents of the GA fleet. The first step in any pilot's career is walking through the front door of a flight training unit, and that's most likely a general aviation flight training unit. This training takes place in smaller GA-type airports and aerodromes more suited to the training environment and the type of aircraft operations that we see in these smaller GA airports all around the country.
Also, with COPA being GA, over the last five years COPA has taken more than 18,000 youngsters aged eight to 17 up for an aircraft ride in a program called “COPA For Kids”, so right there, in the last five years, we could have solved the whole pilot shortage problem with the COPA For Kids program.
What challenges do new pilots face? First they have to get into a PPL program—“PPL” being a private pilot licence—and get through that. There is no financial aid for this available anywhere in the country, except for scholarships. It's up to them, their parents or anyone else to get that money to put up front just to walk through this first step of a PPL. Anything above that is the commercial pilot licence.
Most flight training costs are not eligible for student loans unless done as part of a college program, in which case it would only be the classroom portion. Flight training units are only available in certain areas, usually the most densely populated. There's only one flight school in Yukon and none in the Northwest Territories or Nunavut.
In terms of the availability of instructors, applications from students are actually being turned down due to lack of instructors, or there's a long waiting list and they're told to come back in a year when there may be room for them in a flight training unit. Especially if the students just want to go for a private pilot licence, this recreational and private pilot licence thing is put on the back burner. The idea is to get some foreign students, but also, if you're in the airline training program, they're looking for airline pilots. The ones who will become instructors, the ones we will need, are left out.
Challenges for the flight training units include the availability of qualified instructors. With a few exceptions, most instructors need to be employed by an FTU, a flight training unit, to use their instructor rating. Other challenges include using older aircraft.
As well, another challenge faced by the flight training units is the fact that flight training units are at aerodromes that are quite old, and there are also capacity issues because of airport size, air traffic control capabilities, and the need to balance—as was presented earlier—flight training capacity with responsible aerodrome operation, especially in certain high-density areas, such as Saint-Hubert in Longueuil.
Also, for the FTUs and these airports, the only federal funding that can help these airports to develop, sustain and look at other ways is ACAP funding, but these funds are only for airports that have passenger service, and most of the GA airports do not have that.
As I said earlier, most people see aviation in Canada as airliners and very few smaller aircraft, when actually it's the other way around: 90% to 95% of all aircraft in the country are general aviation. Some people also see aviation in the country as the 26 big airports of the national airport system, but there are over 1,500 airports.
In conclusion, to ensure that the supply chain for pilots stays healthy, the front door of the general aviation world has to stay open. It means protecting community airports so that the flight schools have places to live and grow, ensuring that adequate talent and experience is retained at the instructor level. It means preserving the flying clubs and social networks associated with airports, including community, in terms of what goes on at their local airport so that they are connected and realize the important role that this asset is playing locally and in the big picture.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak today.
I was the first woman in Canada to fly for a major airline when I was hired by Air Canada in 1978. After 37 years and more than 23,000 flying hours, I retired from the airline as a Boeing 777 captain three years ago.
The biggest challenge for aviation in Canada today, and therefore flight schools, is the looming pilot shortage. You have heard that by 2025, Canada will need 7,000 to 10,000 new pilots. By 2036 a staggering 620,000 commercial pilots will be required worldwide. Part of the problem is that 50% of the population—women—are not engaged. I began my flying training 45 years ago, yet there's been very little progress in the number of women flying as airline pilots. Since the very first few were hired in 1973, the percentage of women flying for airlines globally has only increased to 5% today.
The main reason for this is the lack of role models. Countless times I've heard girls say they've never seen a female pilot before. Women in aviation need to be more visible, demonstrating their capability, credibility and passion for flying.
A 2018 study by Microsoft showed that women are more likely to do well and have a sense of belonging if they can see positive role models in a STEM career. They need to see other women performing a job before they will consider it. Research has also shown that this exposure needs to start when girls are young, as interest in technology begins at around age 11 but falls off at around age 16. A hands-on, engaging introduction to aviation is needed as part of the curriculum in elementary school. An aviation ground school course incorporating physics, math and meteorology could be offered to high school students.
As you heard from Bernard, an actual flight is even more successful to spark the passion to be a pilot. My first flight in a small airplane completely changed my career path. I had been pursuing an arts degree. My first flight was the catalyst that gave me the will and the determination to pursue an aviation career. Annual events like Girls Take Flight, an initiative started by the Ninety-Nines, provide this opportunity.
I'm a director with the Northern Lights Aero Foundation, which inspires women in all sectors of aviation and aerospace. Northern Lights has held an annual awards event for the last 10 years to highlight Canadian women who've made significant accomplishments in these fields. Past winners have included Dr. Roberta Bondar and Lieutenant-Colonel Maryse Carmichael, the first female Snowbird commander. We have a mentoring program, a speakers bureau and scholarships. In addition, we do outreach at aviation events. Our foundation has managed to attract strong support from industry. Companies are finally realizing that our activities assist in the recruitment of women. The Northern Lights Aero Foundation introduces girls and young women to positive role models and mentors who have been successful in their field.
You have heard about the high cost of flight training. At $75,000 to $100,000, it is a barrier to both sexes. A national funding program that provides such remedies as tax incentives to flight schools, student loans for the private pilot licence—which, as you heard, is not eligible for any loans right now and costs around $20,000—and loan forgiveness for pilots committing to work as flight instructors for a specified period of time could mitigate this.
The low pay for flight instructors is a significant challenge to flight schools. I just spoke to a young female instructor in Edmonton about this. She's been 10 years in the field. Instructors are paid between $25,000 and $40,000 a year. Their income is variable, as they're not on salary unless they're working for a university or a college. They're only paid when the weather is suitable for flight. This makes it difficult for schools to retain experienced instructors, who leave as soon as possible for more lucrative jobs, sometimes not even in aviation. Elevating this pay could also make it a viable permanent career choice for pilots who wish to remain at home each night instead of spending days away from their family. A lack of instructors will ultimately choke the pipeline that ensures a reliable supply of future pilots.
Women and the younger generation as a whole are also concerned about work-life balance. This dissuades some from entering flight schools. Junior pilots at an airline often have the most onerous schedules, which involve many consecutive days away from home during the time when they're most likely to be starting a family. Such innovative programs as Porter Airlines' “block sharing”, which means sharing a schedule of flying, eases the transition for women returning from maternity leave. This is a difficult time in a pilot's career; I can personally attest to this, as I have two daughters, and I returned to work in as little as two and a half months after having one of them.
In closing, I will say that one of the biggest challenges to flight schools is actually attracting women to walk in through their door. With support from government and industry to increase exposure to STEM subjects in the classroom and incentives for young people to pursue flight training and remain in the industry, I believe we can turn the tide on the impending pilot shortage. I had the most amazing job in the world, and I wholeheartedly encourage other women to pursue it as well.
I would. On the idea of flight attendants, I personally know over 15 flight attendants who have become pilots and who are working their way up, but they've had to do it totally on their own. There is no incentive for an airline to do their own training.
Concerning the shortage of pilots, there's a misconception that people don't want to become pilots. In Springbank there are two flying schools with a waiting list of over 300 students. There were 78 air cadets who did not get their power licence this summer because of lack of instructors, and at the busiest flying school in the country, at Brampton, in October they put out a notice that they are not taking any more new students.
There is a waiting list of people in Canada who want to learn to fly. The seats are taken by international students. Then they leave the country, meaning we have a shortage of instructors, meaning we can't take that waiting list of students.
It's a cycle. The schools need money, so they take the international students, and that kicks the door shut for our students.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Ms. Hadfield, as you quite rightly pointed out, there is no link between the education system in Canada and flight schools, although we have a real need for pilots. What also strikes me is when Ms. Cameron suggested that people in the north, where there is such a need for pilots, will not move to the south to take that training for any length of time. However, I am well aware of the situation in flight schools in Saint-Hubert, where there are major concerns. We have always bemoaned the fact that they are all concentrated in that location, right above the houses of ordinary folks.
However, as you explained, is quite sad to see that the schools are accepting a lot of foreign pilots who take places, not just from Canadian students, but also from Canadian pilots. That means that the pilots leave. Would you like the committee to recommend setting up a network? I am talking about the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, the AIAC, which set up the Don't Let Go Canada program. We met Mr. Hadfield to talk about that.
Should we not have a concerted approach to establish a training program for young people, particularly young women, so that they can get started in the field?
I think that if we can set up programs at the high school level, where students who are not that familiar with airports.... As urban areas have expanded, we've lost the small airports and general aviation. People don't see airplanes flying around, and our youth can't look up and say, “Oh, I want to do that.” They go into high schools and focus on STEM programs, but those don't include aviation.
I think it's about bringing it back into the high schools and also about having a loan and debt repayment program—making it affordable so they can go to school—to keep our own students in the flight schools. You're looking at half our population that is making under.... How is a family with a combined income of $80,000 going to afford putting their kid through these schools?
Also, the payback is slow. When our son was at a flying school, I said to him that he was going to have to go up north and be up there for years, that he was going to be pumping gas and cleaning puke out of airplanes for the pleasure of making $20,000 a year. Then, when you start making your way up there—you get married, you have kids—and you're making $100,000, you go to Air Canada and you drop to $40,000.
It's a cycle. For the flight schools, I think we have to make a definite loan repayment program. You can't stop them from accepting foreign students, but if we can have our students afford to get there.... Canada is very well known around the world for our aviation sector. That's why other countries are paying for their kids to come here.
I've heard that from some people who are training some of the newer pilots.
I can only attest to my own experience. I did do the northern experience. I flew up north for a year and I did pump gas on a DC-3. I did roll fuel drums. When Air Canada hired me, I went to my interview board, and they said, “Bring your log book and bring anything that you think might get you hired”, so I brought pictures of me—black and white—rolling fuel drums, wearing a flight suit and steel-toed boots. Maybe that helped me get the job.
The thing about flying is that unlike a lot of other occupations, it's really enjoyable. It's a lot of fun, and some people are just driven to pursue it no matter how difficult, but the costs are getting out of hand now.
I think the answer is to have forgivable loans, particularly if you're willing to work as a flight instructor or if you're willing to work in a northern community. I think there have to be some solutions.
The shortage of pilots is worldwide. The fact is that, if Canada does not find an answer to it, we will have to hire people from other countries.
The industry is growing around the world, but I do not believe that we should start by recruiting people from other countries. We have the capacity to train them in Canada. Most of our pilots were trained as a result of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. About 130,000 pilots were trained in its military bases. Canada's pilot training is internationally renowned. We have the ability to do it; we just have to roll up our sleeves and get going.
As Mr. Nantel said earlier, there should be a national training program, now and for the future. Canada is the home of the aerospace industry. The country was largely opened up by aviation.
We must do it, otherwise Canadian companies around Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver, like Viking Air, will suffer as a result. Canada is the home of aviation
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'm going to share my time with Mr. Graham. I think he has a few more questions, but I do want to introduce a notice of motion, Madam Chair, that I'm hoping will be entertained at the next meeting.
On that notice of motion, Madam Chair, as you know, we've been diving into pollution-related costs and we're trying to get as much input as we can from all sides of the floor. Therefore, my notice of motion, Madam Chair, reads as follows:
That the Official Opposition present to the Committee its plan to deal with transportation-related pollution costs.
I'll be presenting that at the next meeting.
With that, Mr. Graham, go ahead. The floor is yours.
I don't have too much more, but I do have some more.
Mr. Gervais, you mentioned COPA For Kids and you used to be involved with the ABPQ, and as you know, I am as well. I've flown in at least five of these Kids in Flight events. Can you speak to the real impact of this? I know of the 50 or so kids I've taken, only one of which puked—I'm very proud of that—I'd say about half or maybe even more were girls, and it doesn't seem to be translating into an interest at the flying school.
Do you have any thoughts on why that is?
Madam Cameron, you were talking about seeing those role models. My instructor is a woman. She's an excellent instructor and an excellent pilot. She's flying at all these events. She does the ground school for all the kids, so they are seeing it. How do we convert that into an interest?
You have to be able to do simple addition and subtraction.
The other is that you have to have perfect 20/20 vision. That's also not true.
I think the problem is that we're just not getting young kids interested early enough, and I'm a perfect example. I had to go back to school before I started my aviation college. I had not taken grade 12 math. I was in an arts program at university, so I had limited my options already.
I think you need to get them younger.
I can't answer your question as to why that first flight wasn't absolutely motivational for them. It certainly was for me, and there are a lot of programs like this. The Ninety-Nines has Girls Take Flight. One of our directors at Northern Lights does this. They had 1,000 people this year at Oshawa, where 221 girls and women were taken flying. I'm sure a number of them were interested in pursuing a career after this.
I think it is exposure, having more things like Elevate. Again I'm referring to a lady in the audience. She runs an organization, and they are going to be going to 20 cities across Canada and promoting various aviation careers. She's an air traffic controller, so it's not just pilots; it's air traffic control, maintenance, and different areas. I think kids need to be exposed to this, and the more hands-on experience, the better. It shouldn't just be someone speaking in a classroom.