August 1, 2018
Dear Aviation Leaders,
Air Georgian is Canada’s career launch-pad. We have supplied pilots to leading global airlines for over two decades and are proud of the thousands of pilots who have flown for Georgian on their way to fly the flag for Air Canada, or other major airlines around the globe.
Motivated by the pilot shortage and a lack of funding for aspiring aviators, Air Georgian has put significant resources into programs focusing on aviation career awareness, recruitment, and retention, and we are challenging the rest of the industry to join us.
Air Georgian’s Sharing Opportunities for Advancement and Reward program (SOAR) was launched in 2017 in response to pilot supply challenges. Today, SOAR has outgrown its humble beginnings as a recruitment program, helping to bring awareness to aviation as an exciting and rewarding career, and providing continuous opportunities for career advancement and fulfillment.
Our partnership with Ready Set Fly, an organization dedicated to educating high school students about aviation opportunities, has shown us the importance of reaching out to the next generation of aviators. We are also active with Girls Take Flight, the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, and many other organizations and institutions committed to promoting careers in aviation to youth.
Driven primarily by our partner flight schools telling us that instructor attrition was harming their sustainability, our Flight Instructor Rating Subsidy Program was introduced into SOAR. Complementing SOAR’s successful operator hiring program, its mentoring activities, and other flight school programs, the Instructor Program invests directly into pilot training, development, and recruitment stability. SOAR’s Instructor Rating Subsidy Program cultivates a sustainable pilot development model by helping pilots become flight instructors as they continue to develop their skills prior to transitioning into the airline environment. Our first cadre of Instructor Program candidates start their training soon.
How the SOAR Flight Instructor Subsidy Rating Program Works:
- Apply. A commercial pilot, typically newly licensed, applies for the SOAR Instructor Program via the Air Georgian SOAR portal.
- Review. If accepted, Air Georgian funds a candidate’s instructor rating with a SOAR partner school.
- Get Licensed and Teach. Upon completion of their instructor rating, the pilot teaches at the SOAR partner school for a minimum of 18 months.
- Work Towards a Goal. On acceptance into the program, the pilot is also provided a conditional offer of employment with Air Georgian, contingent upon the pilot maintaining employment in good standing and demonstrating a strong, team-oriented work ethic.
- Fly for Air Canada Express. Air Georgian pilots are immersed in the Air Canada system and operate in one of the most dynamic and challenging airline environments in Canada from day one. The Air Georgian pilot group is young, energized, and diverse – fostering a family culture that is challenging, fast-paced, and deeply rewarding.
- Interview with Air Canada. Every Air Georgian pilot is eligible to participate in our Pilot Mobility Arrangement (PMA) with Air Canada. The PMA secures Air Georgian pilots an interview with Air Canada mainline contingent upon the pilot maintaining employment in good standing as well as meeting other criteria as defined independently by Air Canada.
The Instructor Program is generating significant discussion and demand with our SOAR partners across Canada, but its popularity among applicants has highlighted a significant issue that needs our industry’s combined energy and attention. We have heard from hundreds of potential pilots – people who very much want to fly and have a career in commercial aviation, who are unable to reach their dreams of flight due to Canada’s archaic education funding programs and the high cost of training.
In June 2018, we announced our Air Georgian Academy, set to open in Fall 2018. One of the many goals of the Academy is to reduce the cost of ab-initio, and advanced training in parallel with helping aspiring aviators secure funding through industry support and donors, government programs, financial institutions and private sources.
We’ll never stop our quest for improvement. Air Georgian is currently working with academic leader Dr. Suzanne Kearns to support graduate research into pilot training mythologies and to develop leading-edge technology-based recruitment programs. We are increasing options for career training and progression, reigniting the passion for Canadian aviation.
Georgian views investment in our flight crew as an investment in our own future, and the future of our industry. However, we are looking for further collaboration and support from our industry peers.
Diversity improves culture and strengthens our industry, and one of the barriers to a career in aviation is a lack of diversity and inclusiveness. Air Georgian is proud to have a workforce which is 58% millennial and in which 35% of employees self-identify as members of a visible minority group. Air Georgian is also breaking down gender bias in our industry through a number of partnerships aimed at attracting women into technical fields like piloting and maintenance as well as management roles. Today we are proud to employ over twice the national and international average of female pilots, and while we are proud of our diversity statistics and initiatives, it is not enough. We are challenging ourselves to reach gender parity through all sectors of our company, including pilots, within the next ten years, and are now extending this challenge to members of the greater aviation community.
There is too much at stake, and our industry needs to work together. We are calling on industry peers to meet with us for a Canadian Pilot Recruitment and Development Workshop in the Fall of 2018 at our Air Georgian Academy in Mississauga, where we are looking to lead a Canadian solution to the pilot shortage.
The workshop will kick-off looking at today’s greatest challenges:
- Find Pilots: Identifying the next two generations of pilots. Where will they come from? In the United States, operators are starting to identify potential pilots in kindergarten, and both Boeing and Airbus have recently announced ab-initio training programs. Our pilot supply system is bottlenecked, and a continued lack of action from the Canadian aviation industry means we are losing potential talented aviators.
- Fund Pilots: Lobbying the government(s) for more funding initiatives. Financial assistance is limited, and the challenge to fund training is going to grow.
- Flow Pilots: Create career progression streams that encourage pilots to identify appropriate opportunities and to develop a plan that meets their career aspirations. We must work together to build a self-sustaining system that meets the needs of the industry and those of aviators, while ensuring pilots have productive, rewarding, and exciting career paths.
If you are interested in joining us at our Air Georgian Academy in the Fall, or are simply accepting our challenge on these initiatives, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The workshop date will be finalized after we receive input from interested attendees.
We look forward to your feedback and collaboration on this initiative.
VP, Corporate Development and Government Relations
Air Georgian Limited