It costs $2.6 Million to train a jet fighter pilot

Air force hiring foreign pilots to fly front-line jets

OTTAWA—Canada’s air force has been hiring foreign pilots to fly its front-line transport aircraft, maritime patrol planes and fighter jets, citing an inability to recruit Canadians to fill seats in the military cockpits.

As debate rages about temporary foreign workers allowed into Canada to fill jobs in sectors like the service industry, it turns out that the Canadian Armed Forces has also gone abroad to fill its own labour needs.

Citing a “labour shortage,” the military has been recruiting pilots from foreign countries — notably the French and British air forces — to work in Canada and train Canadian pilots but also fly on operational missions around the globe.

The foreign fliers are being pressed to fly many of the aircraft in the air force fleet, including the CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft, the C-130 Hercules and CC-177 Globemaster transport jets.

The transport pilots are being hired for “pilot training as well as global strategic and tactical air transport.”

The labour market opinions that were prepared by the Defence Department in order to proceed with the foreign hires outline the needs of the air force.

A Royal Air Force pilot from the United Kingdom with experience in anti-submarine warfare and long-range sovereignty patrol missions was sought to fly the CP-140 Aurora.

“With minimal training he will be employed as a CP 140 Aurora aircraft commander where his experience will be used to help train new RCAF long range patrol crews,” read the labour market opinion.

Another RAF pilot with experience on the CC-177 Globemaster — a transport aircraft also flown by Canada’s military — was brought onboard as an instructor.

A pilot from the Hungarian Air Force was hired as an instructor to train student pilots in the Canadian Air Force.

Other pilots experienced in air-to-air refuelling operations were sought from the Royal Air Force to fly the CC-150 Polaris jet, which is used as both a transport and a refueller.

In each case, the air force says it was forced to go abroad to hire personnel to fill a position it was “unable to fill through normal recruiting and training.”

However, the military says it is trying to recruit Canadians to serve as pilots.

“Canadians are regularly recruited as Pilots and will continue to be recruited and trained through the (Canadian Armed Forces) well established Officer and Pilot training programs,” reads one labour market opinion.

The air force has hired 24 former foreign military pilots since 2012, including 19 from the United Kingdom, two from Hungary, and one each from Germany, France and South Africa, said Maj. James Simiana.

“Those hires are complementary . . . to the hiring and training of Canadian pilots that is also taking place,” said Simiana, a spokesperson for the air force.

But Gilles Hudicourt, a pilot with Air Transat who obtained the labour market opinions, says the air force has gone abroad to find experienced pilots to avoid the cost of training Canadians.

“They pretend . . . that they’re actually going after some new skill,” Hudicourt told the Star. “They’re doing it to save on training money.”

Hudicourt has previously complained about the influx of foreign pilots allowed into Canada to work for charter airlines, like Sunwing, as well as helicopter companies, which he says takes away jobs from Canadians.

And he says that applies to the air force when it hires military pilots from abroad to fill empty seats in its cockpits.

He said the immigration rules are meant to permit organizations to hire abroad to fill a labour need “when there is no qualified Canadians to do the job,” Hudicourt said.

“You’re not allowed to do it to save money,” he said.

“They’re just taking these guys because they were already trained and it’s just going to be cheaper for national defence . . . it doesn’t seem right to me,” he said.

The air force says it takes about seven years — and $2.6 million — to train a pilot to fly the CF-18 fighter jet.

In background material provided to the Star, the air force concedes that cost is a big factor in hiring former military pilots since the experienced aviators require little training and can be put to work immediately, filling gaps that “could not otherwise be filled in the short to medium term.”

On Friday, Employment Minister Jason Kenney unveiled changes to the temporary foreign worker program to address concerns that it was driving down wages and leaving Canadians unemployed.

While the changes focus mostly on low-wage, low-skilled entry level jobs, Kenney’s overhaul does touch on the issue of foreign pilots.

No longer will airlines be allowed to make it a requirement that would-be pilots hold a type rating for a specific aircraft since the airline can provide that training.

As well, the airline will have to present a transition plan outlining its strategy to reduce its reliance on foreign pilots while increasing its complement of Canadian pilots.

“There was a consensus that there is no shortage of Canadian commercial pilots who could be trained to fly specific types of aircraft,” reads a briefing note.

It wasn’t clear whether the changes would affect the air force’s use of foreign pilots.
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My Mrs' cousin flies for the RAF. It's pretty common for pilots to fly in foreign air forces to gain experience on a wide variety of platforms and terrain.

Here is question for you: Why do NATO pilots train in Canada?

NATO Flying Training in Canada - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (external - login to view)

It's nice to know Canada is the one raking in the profits from the $2.6M other countries shell out for training.
We don't know how much less it costs to outsource, but if the ceiling is $2.6 million, then it's probably too expensive as well.
The Globemaster and Aurora are not fighter jets and completely different flying techniques so the $2.6M to train fighter pilots doesn't relate to this situation.

BTW...where does one get training in Canada to fly commercially in the giant beasts that require the same skill set as the Globemaster or Aurora?
Quote: Originally Posted by petrosView Post

The Globemaster and Aurora are not fighter jets and completely different flying techniques so the $2.6M to train fighter pilots doesn't relate to this situation.

That's nice.

The article is about outsourcing training for fighter jet pilots.
Damn, I should have applied after college...I dreamed of flying when I was a kid. But it sounds more like the Air Force has a harder time keeping pilots through to the level of experience needed to train others. Maybe they're leaving the Air Force for greener pastures when they get their hours...

Quote: Originally Posted by mentalflossView Post

That's nice.

The article is about outsourcing training for fighter jet pilots.

No it's not. It's about a shortage of pilots in the air force.

As Tonington mentioned getting enough hours is tough.

Back in the Cold War days when long patrols made it possible to crank out pilots to fly heavys in the military and commercially their was an abundance of qualified pilots.

Fighter jets aren't flying in the same volume either especially when satellites and drones are what they are these days.

Airlines will go pilotless sooner than later because of the reduced hours in the military for pilots to get the hours needed to fly commercially.

They'll start on freight routes until proven safe for the public.
as long as someone is on the wall, someone brave, protecting the rights and natural habitat of the summer-toques, what do they really care? cost schmost.
Flaman Man?

Flamin' Man.
Quote: Originally Posted by petrosView Post

No it's not. It's about a shortage of pilots in the air.

Obvious post is obvious.

But it's pretty damn expensive and I would like to know how much it costs to outsource unnecessary personnel.
I heard Germany's resurrecting the Red Baron for us.
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I can understand the military having trouble finding qualified applicants. Few people are willing to put up with the BS that goes along with the flying for the wages paid. When you sign on there is no garauntee that you will infact ever sit in the cocpit.
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