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According to a recent study by Boeing, during the period 2018-2037, the world demand for helicopter pilots will outstrip the supply by 59,000. HAC and other industry associations have estimated that new Fatigue Management regulations, when they come in to force in 2022, alone, will increase the shortfall by 25-40%.

In response to growing concerns from operator-members who are already parking aircraft during peak periods of summer demand, HAC is exploring multiple mechanisms to mitigate the shortage of flight crews, including:

  • A Federal Wage subsidy for new Helicopter Flight Instructors;
  • A Federal Wage subsidy and financial assistance for new or replacement northern-based employees, hired by companies with bases in northern Canada;
  • A program that would see low-time pilots gain experience on fires, by managing the radio work on fires;
  • A structured mentoring program that could see an accelerated transition to independent operations, under the supervisions of more experienced pilots;
  • A more structured transition for retired or ex-military helicopter pilots, to civilian operations;
  • A Federal program for up-skill training for licensed commercial pilots;
  • A structured, HAC-sponsored, on-line job-matching program;
  • A relaxation of the Temporary Foreign Worker restrictions, as a mechanism to meet demand in the short-term.

HAC’s President said, “…the problem in our industry has never really been about a “shortage of pilots”,  but a “shortage of experienced pilots and the cost of up-skill training”. “Our industry needs to engage with our customers, too, to impress on them the importance of bringing low-time pilots safely and efficiently through the transition to high-timers – particularly in single crew operations. Certain jobs can quite safely be accomplished using less experienced pilots. Our customers need to work with us as partners, to identify those operations, and allow the industry to focus on core competencies, rather than arbitrary hours-based experience requirements. While we appreciate the government’s focus on new indigenous and female flight crews, this is a long term goal. This current government strategy can’t begin to mitigate the growing shortage we are experiencing, now. The combination of the growing demand for pilots; the Federal Labour Code amendments, and our industry’s use of Averaging Permits, which considered in combination with the looming new Flight & Duty Time changes, will overwhelm the positive impact of the Federal Government’s current approach. It won’t begin to scratch the surface.”