The Canadian military has found a solution to training issues in times of cutbacks.

Graham Warwick/MONTREAL

Canada is turning to the commercial sector for assistance in coping with defence-budget cuts. Nowhere is this more evident than in pilot training for the Canadian Forces.

With parts of the syllabus already privatised successfully, Canada's Department of National Defence (DND) is examining options which would result in the handing over of all pilot training to the private sector.

The DND is particularly concerned about advanced jet training, as cuts in Canada's fighter force have reduced pilot throughput to the point where the system in place is no longer cost-effective.

Recognising that other air forces face a similar dilemma, the DND has submitted a proposal to NATO to establish a contractor-run joint jet-training programme in Canada to meet its own needs and those of several European air arms.

While this proposal is being considered, the DND is trying to market its training skills internationally, to find customers for excess capacity in its existing training programmes.

Canada was one of the first countries to privatise pilot training when it awarded a Bombardier-led team a five-year contracted flying-training and support contract in September 1991.

A team of Canadian companies, led by Bombardier's Canadair Defence division, took over CFB Portage la Prairie in Southport, Manitoba, and created the Canadian Aviation Training Centre (CATC). The CATC began operation in July 1992, providing contractor-supported primary, multi-engine and helicopter training for the Canadian Forces.

The CATC operates a contractor-owned fleet of 12 Slingsby T.67C Firefly primary and eight Raytheon Beech King Air C90A multi-engine trainers, plus 14 Bell CH-149 JetRanger III training-helicopters dry-leased from the DND.

Students receive 27h of primary training at Southport, with contractor instructors. The CATC subcontracts a further 40h of continuation training to flying clubs close to Canada's military colleges, from which students graduate with a private-pilot's licence.

All Canadian Forces students then receive 134h of basic training in the Canadair CT-114 Tutor jet trainer at CFB Moose Jaw, Alberta, before being "streamed" for advanced training. Fast-jet pilots remain at Moose Jaw for a further 66h on the Tutor, while transport and helicopter pilots return to the CATC for 70h on the King Air or 90h on the JetRanger. Advanced training at Southport is contractor supported, with the DND supplying its own instructors.

The Southport operation is regarded as successful. The 'washout' rate during primary training, which was 25% when the DND was in charge, is now 15%, says Jean Girard, vice-president for aviation services at Canadair Defence Systems. Exact figures for savings are hard to come by, but the base employs 180 people, compared with 700 when it was a DND operation, he points out.


Cutbacks have resulted in primary training for the Canadian Forces dropping from a planned 140 students a year to just 85, with further reductions in prospect. The DND is now trying to market the CATC's excess capacity to overseas air arms under the Canadian Aviation Training Programme (CATP).

Jamaican Defence Force student pilots have received primary and helicopter training, while three UK Royal Air Force exchange pilots have completed multi-engine training at Southport. Germany is evaluating the Canadian programme and six air force and navy student pilots arrived in March for primary and multi-engine training.

The DND plans to respond to a pending German request for proposals to provide multi-engine training from 1997 onwards, says CATP programme director Lt. Col. Ian Milani. It has negotiated an extension to Bombardier's contract, which would be exercised if Canada wins the German programme.

Bombardier's present contract runs until 1997, with options to extend, but the CATC programme is unlikely to continue unchanged. Variations are already in the pipeline. The DND plans to phase out primary training with the introduction of a computerised pilot-screening system within 18 months. Under development since 1980, the Canadian Automated Pilot Selection System will predict pilot aptitude "with significantly higher confidence of success" than is now possible, says Milani.

If the system works as expected, the CATC-provided primary-training phase would be eliminated. Students would still receive continuation training while at college, with the DND buying training from flying schools. "The flying experience part [of primary training] is easily accessible in Canada," notes Milani.

Elimination of primary training is tied to the introduction of a new basic-training aircraft to replace the Tutor. While an introductory phase on a low-performance aircraft is required before moving a student to the relatively high-performing Tutor, a turboprop trainer would eliminate the need for a separate primary-training phase, the DND believes.

Under the CATP, the DND is examining several options, which would lead to replacement of the Tutor. The principal option, Milani says, is to host NATO joint-jet training in Canada. The proposal submitted to NATO by the DND, with prime contractor Bombardier, is for a contractor-run operation, which would replace the present basic and advanced jet-training phases conducted by the Canadian Forces at Moose Jaw on the Tutor.

The proposal is to host the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Training Programme (ENJJTP) now conducted by the US Air Force at Sheppard AFB, Texas, using Cessna T-37s and Northrop Grumman T-38s. Training for European NATO nations is conducted at Sheppard under an "interim" memorandum of understanding, which expires in 2005, says Milani.

The USA has also submitted a proposal and needs a decision by 1997 to upgrade the 260h ENJTTP with the aircraft selected for the US Air Force/Navy Joint Primary Air Training System (JPATS). Milani hopes for a "split" decision because he believes that some European NATO nations will elect to perform at least some of their training in Canada.

Milani points out that almost every European NATO nation is examining its pilot-training options in the light of budget cuts and that Sheppard does not have the capacity to meet the demand projected if all of them elect to train there. He believes that the Canadian proposal is complementary to, rather than competitive with, that submitted by the USA.

Under the DND proposal, Bombardier would provide basic and advanced jet training on company-owned aircraft. The team has already selected the British Aerospace Hawk 100 for the advanced-training phase and will select a turboprop aircraft for the basic-training phase when syllabus design is completed later this year, says Milani.

Design of the syllabus and selection of the aircraft is necessary before pricing can be supplied to NATO early in 1996, he says. Based on the prices submitted by both Canada and the USA, individual nations will decide where to go for training, Milani says.

On completion of syllabus design, a short list of suitable turboprop basic trainers, will be drawn up for evaluation and selection, by prime contractor, Bombardier. This is similar to the process, which led to selection of the Slingsby T.67C for the CATC's primary-training phase.

While Milani is confident that some European NATO nations will elect to train in Canada, there is a "fall-back" Canada-only option. Under this, basic training would be conducted on contractor-owned turboprops, while advanced training would continue on the Tutor. Despite its age - the Canadian-designed aircraft entered service in 1964 - "...the Tutor is supportable into the next century", Milani maintains.


Depending on the outcome of the NATO proposal, the DND will decide the future direction of its pilot training in 1997. If a Canadian-only solution is required, a competition to select a basic-training contractor will be conducted. If the Tutors are to be retained, they will be upgraded with cockpit systems, which will ease the transition to the Canadian Forces' front-line fighter, the McDonnell Douglas CF-18.

Budget cuts have forced the DND to retire its Northrop CF-5 lead-in fighter-trainers, despite an expensive cockpit-systems upgrade, because they are no longer cost-effective for the planned throughput of only 15 Canadian Forces' fast-jet pilots a year, Milani says. Consequently, students will graduate directly from the Tutor to the CF-18. Under the NATO proposal, students would graduate to fighters from the more-capable Hawk 100.

Among the many issues, which Canada is considering is whether, with the reduction of throughput, it can afford to continue pilot training at two bases - Southport and Moose Jaw. As a prelude to a decision on whether to close one or other of the locations, a study is under way into the socioeconomic impact of both bases on their local communities. The results are due in mid-1995.

What has been decided, Milani indicates, is that the DND has sufficient throughput to justify continuing pilot training in Canada. The Canadian Forces' integrated structure has helped, he says, as it means that one system produces pilots for the air force, army and navy branches. While primary training will be discontinued under present plans, contractor-run multi-engine and helicopter training will be continued.

For Bombardier, its Southport operation represents the kernel of a new business segment, says Girard. The Canadian Company's plans include developing the CATC into an international centre for pilot, technical, aerospace and air-traffic-control training. According to Girard, the DND must decide by the third quarter of 1995 whether to reshape the CATC or recompete the contract to provide training support after 1997.

Canada's decision-making process over the next two years is certain to be closely monitored by other nations facing the difficult decision of how to continue to train military pilots when budget cuts have reduced both the throughput and the money available. What seems certain, is that existing military pilot training infrastructures will have to be dismantled and commercial solutions adopted.

Source: Flight International