Members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities appear with members of the Ninety-Nines and Northern Lights who also testified, Elevate Aviation and COPA’s President and CEO in the photo above. From left to right: MP Ken Hardie, MP Angelo Iacono, Judy Cameron (Northern Lights), Hon. Judy A. Sgro (chair), Robin Hadfield (99s), Kendra Kincade (Elevate) and Bernard Gervais (COPA).

Earlier this week, COPA President and CEO Bernard Gervais appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. Much of Gervais’ testimony was dedicated to explaining the importance of General Aviation (GA) in Canada, and the role it plays in our economy but also why it is vital to address the pilot shortage.

“To ensure the supply chain for pilots stays healthy, the front door of the aviation world, GA, has to stay open”, Gervais told the committee on December 11. “This means protecting community airports so that flight schools have places to live and grow, ensuring adequate talent and experience is retained at the instructor level.”

Various measures COPA is lobbying for include allowing more freelance instruction outside of the commercial FTU environment, making commercial flight training eligible for student financial assistance programs and tax incentives designed to allow for more freelance instruction away from population centres.

Gervais also highlighted to the committee the importance local communities play in sustaining smaller airports where flight instruction takes place. “We need to preserve the flying clubs and social networks associated with airports, and include the community in what goes on at their local airport so they are connected and realize the important role their aviation asset is playing locally and in the big picture.”

The committee hearing came on the heels of the unanimous passage on November 28 by the House of Commons of a private member’s bill introduced by Stephen Fuhr (MP for Kelowna-Lake Country). The bill instructed the Standing Committee on Transport to investigate the pilot shortage and report back to the House next June with recommendations.