Aviation Business Diploma Program Takes Flight In Vanderhoof

In 2010, College of New Caledonia (Nechako) received a $20,000 grant from Northern Development through the Economic Diversification Infrastructure program towards this $186,200 project. This has been a funding partnership of College of New Caledonia (Nechako), Northern Development, Community Economic Diversification Initiative, and Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund Society

2012-The College of New Caledonia is offering a new Aviation Business Diploma program in Vanderhoof that is the first of its kind in northern BC. The course is a partnership with a local aircraft charter and flight school company Guardian Aerospace that is focused on producing qualified small aircraft pilots to meet a growing shortage throughout the region and across northern Canada. This course trains students to fly small planes in some of the most difficult conditions, and there is no better place to to experience remote flying conditions than Vanderhoof. The community has a long established history with aviation and there is a keen interest throughout the community to support this program in recruiting students to train and live in Vanderhoof.

In order to get this new program off the ground, the College of New Caledonia purchased two Redbird aircraft flight simulators with partial funding from Northern Development’s Pine Beetle Recovery Account. This project, like many others, has been a partnership with a number of organizations including Western Economic Diversification and the Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund Society.

The simulators are the central component of the training program. The Redbird models are cutting edge simulator technology targetted at the initial and commercial flight training industry. They provide fully enclosed cockpits, with wrap around visuals, and full motion capability. They are part of a new generation of simulators capable of reproducing flying conditions with amazing accuracy.

The state-of-the-art simulators purchased under this project enable students to learn and practice flying through a variety of inclement conditions in a simulated environment which both improves the quality of program graduates and reduces the costs and risk of achieving that enhanced level of training. The simulators can be set up as a number of different light aircraft models and the College has chosen to acquire Cessna 172 single engine and Piper Seneca twin engine models which will match the most common types to be used in student training. These aircraft can be used in both visual flight rules and instrument flight rules modes, are approved for logging of the simulator training allowed in Transport Canada’s flight training requirements, and can also be used for the renewal of instrument ratings in place of a more costly aircraft.

The simulators are not only available to the College of New Caledonia students in the Aviation Business Diploma program, but can be utilized by northern BC operators for specialized training and by private pilots for improvement of their own flight skills and training in specific areas such as operating in complex air traffic control areas such as that in the airspace around Vancouver International Airport.

"This is a chance for students to train for a rewarding career in the north. The prospects for aviation pilots appear to be improving greatly for the next five to 10 years."

Ty Roberts, Aviation Business Diploma Program Coordinator, College of New Caledonia

"This program is widely supported by the Vanderhoof community. It is a new type of economic initiative outside the traditional areas of economic activity, but it does connect with the long established history of aviation in Vanderhoof."

Ty Roberts, Aviation Business Diploma Program Coordinator, College of New Caledonia

"We operate in a very competitive environment in the college aviation diploma industry, and the provision of this funding by Northern Development and our other funding partners has played a very significant role in moving this project from the concept stage to students with hands on controls and working towards an aviation career in northern BC."

Ty Roberts, Aviation Business Diploma Program Coordinator, College of New Caledonia

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Positive Economic Impacts in Vanderhoof

The Aviation Business Diploma program will support the transportation sector in northern BC by producing a number of highly qualified bush pilots every year that already have experience with regional airports and the adverse weather conditions that are typical throughout the region. This project is also helping to diversify Vanderhoof's economy by increasing the level of employment within the transportation sector and within the College of New Caledonia. When fully developed, the program is expected to create six direct full-time equivalent jobs in the community.

Vanderhoof also anticipates continued economic spin-off benefits for local businesses. The program is providing opportunities for local companies to expand aircraft maintenance and fuel delivery services - both of which are in higher demand with the increased number of flights at Vanderhoof's regional airport.

Since there is a high number of pilots set to retire or move up to larger carriers in northern BC and the rest of Canada, there will be an increased number of job opportunities for graduates of the program who obtain their commercial pilots licence. By training pilots in the North and providing them with the connections needed for employment, not to mention the increasing number of jobs in the burgeoning mining industry within and outside the region that will increase the demand for regional air charters, the Aviation Business Diploma program is greatly increasing the potential of keeping these new pilots in the North.

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