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A new made-in-Canada partnership is aiming to attract adult students to piloting careers, promising to transform them from industry newbie to a first officer at Canada’s largest regional carrier in just 20 months.
Announced on Nov. 19 at the Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC) conference and trade show in Montreal, Jazz Approach is Canada’s first cadet pilot training program. Its architects include a trio of Canadian organizations – CAE, Jazz Aviation and Seneca – who have been collectively working on the program’s development for some time.
Two things set Jazz Approach apart from any other cadet program currently offered in North America. First, students are issued a conditional letter of employment from Jazz Aviation upon acceptance into the program. Second, each student will conclude their training with a CAE type rating on the Bombardier CRJ200 regional jet.
“It’s a new model for North America, really,” said Capt Steve Linthwaite, vice-president of Flight Operations at Jazz. “It’s common around the world to have these traditional cadet programs where people go from zero time to a type rating on a transport category airplane, but this is new in North America.”
The screening process for the program will be robust. Potential students will be evaluated by CAE using the company’s proven cadet screening assessment tool, and Jazz will also conduct interviews. The carrier will issue a conditional offer of employment to each student upon acceptance into the program.
Linthwaite said Jazz has full confidence in CAE’s student selection process, which has been successfully employed at its 30 other cadet programs worldwide.
“This isn’t the first time CAE has done this,” he told Skies at the ATAC show. “We’re quite confident – with their selection process and our basic minimum requirements – that we’re going to get some strong candidates. This program is about setting people up for success. That’s the key.”
Unlike some other cadet pilot programs, there is no age cap for Jazz Approach applicants. Linthwaite said the airline is hoping to attract people looking for a career change as well as those who are just starting out.
“Maybe someone has always had a dream of being a pilot. This is about making an easy pathway for that person to fulfill their dream.”
In an interview at the show, CAE’s vice-president of Public Affairs and Communications, Hélène Gagnon, said the Montreal-based simulation technology leader recognized a need for this type of accelerated training program in Canada.
“We wanted to be part of that solution,” she said. “It’s something we’ve had in mind for a long time. The collaboration here is a first – this three-way collaboration is a first for CAE. We worked closely with our partners; we trust each other and we work well together. This will create a new pipeline for Canadian pilots.”
Gagnon said she hopes the Jazz Approach program will serve as a model for the establishment of other Canadian cadet programs through similar industry partnerships.
“Now that they see there is a new model we can do here in Canada, I think it will spark interest from others. But we want to make sure we partner with organizations that share the values of CAE, share the quality of CAE.”
For CAE, Jazz Approach is the first cadet program where initial pilot training will be delivered by a provider other than a CAE training academy.
Lynne McMullen, director of strategic partnerships at Seneca’s School of Aviation, said the college is set to welcome its first cohort of six students in April 2020. A second group of the same size will begin in June. The idea is to start small, allowing for the three partners to fine tune the program along the way.
“At Seneca, we deliver a degree program with flight training associated with it,” she said. “But we have not yet delivered a program that is strictly IATPL [integrated airline transport pilot licence] training tailored for cadets, for a specific airline.
“For us, it’s exciting to have access to the vast experience CAE has with pilot training. They do this type of training for other countries and it’s an opportunity for us to broaden our horizons in this partnership.”
Linthwaite said Jazz Approach is the next evolution of the airline’s existing Jazz Aviation Pathways Program (Jazz APP), which runs in association with a number of approved schools and smaller air carriers.
“We’ve been growing our Jazz APP program and added IATPL programs in Canada, and this is the next step with two proven partners,” he said. “It was just a natural fit for us all.”
CAE, Jazz Aviation and Seneca signed a five-year partnership agreement to launch the new program, which is expected to incorporate the latest competency-based training strategies.
“A big part of our training program is scenario-based training and allowing students to progress at their own pace,” said McMullen, who will be appointing two flight instructors to work with the first cohort of students.
She told Skies that Seneca has been working with Transport Canada to obtain authority to operate as an Approved Training Organization (ATO) as part of the regulator’s pilot project. This certification would allow the college to develop cutting-edge competency-based training programs through alternate means of compliance, working with CAE along the way to tap into that company’s expertise in simulation.
Linthwaite said scenario-based training has been identified as a crucial factor to student pilots’ success. The Seneca program will offer 60 hours on the college’s CRJ200 fixed-base trainer, experience that will be crucial when students move on to the CRJ200 type rating at CAE.
He added that quality flight training is the differentiator that allows inexperienced candidates to transform into airline pilots in a short period of time. He referenced the military’s proven success with this approach.
CAE, Jazz and Seneca also implied that efforts are well underway to establish student financing programs for successful candidates. The offer of employment that is built into the Jazz Approach program is expected to help candidates secure educational loans.
With a CAE study indicating that hundreds of thousands of new pilots will be needed globally over the next decade, this new program is another step in the right direction for the Canadian aviation industry.
Gagnon said that while the program currently does not involve any specific incentives to attract women to piloting careers, this remains a special focus for CAE.
“We feel that we have a role to play to encourage more women to become pilots,” she said. “If we want to find the 300,000 new pilots we need in the next 10 years, we need women! It’s not far in our head that we have to do something in Canada as well. We’d love to have a role model in Canada to encourage more women to become pilots.”
For more information on the Jazz Approach cadet program, visit www.cae.com/jazz. Applications open on Dec. 1, 2019.