In 2008, College of New Caledonia (Nechako) received a $17,806 grant from Northern Development through the Feasibility Studies program towards this $74,095 project. This has been a funding partnership of College of New Caledonia (Nechako), Northern Development, College of New Caledonia, and Community Economic Diversification Initiative
2012 – Vanderhoof is taking advantage of their local resources to tap into a niche market that will help diversify the community’s economy and develop the aviation industry in northern BC. There is a world-wide shortage of commercial pilots and an even larger need for them in the north. With a Transport Canada Certified Airport and a well-established College of New Caledonia campus, Vanderhoof is positioning the community as the optimal choice for a commercial pilot program.
Under this feasibility study, the College of New Caledonia has evaluated the current programs being offered in British Columbia and across Canada, as well as the regional, provincial, national, and international market opportunities that the college will need to determine how best to proceed in using the community’s recently improved airport to develop a new training school in Vanderhoof.
In 2010, the College announced a new Aviation Business Diploma program based at the Vanderhoof campus and in partnership with Guardian Aerospace, informed directly by this feasibility study. Northern Development provided funding support for the establishment of the Aviation Business Diploma program. See the Aviation Business Diploma Program Takes Flight In Vanderhoof story for more on the infrastructure project that followed this study.
The feasibility study has shown that it is viable for at least sixteen students to graduate from the twenty month course on an annual basis. The University of Fraser Valley has become a partner university with the College of New Caledonia where students from the Vanderhoof commercial pilot training program will be able to transfer in order to complete their diploma.
This potential aviation program is a perfect fit for students who are interested in staying in northern British Columbia. A commercial aviation company that flies out of Vanderhoof, Northern Air, has stated they have seen a rising trend of new pilots leaving northern BC within three to five years and that when this program is delivered, it will need to focus on those applicants that plan on staying in the region.