If you’re interested in a career as a pilot, Alkan Air president Wendy Tayler wants to talk to you. So does Yukon College.
Tayler and college president Karen Barnes were at Alkan’s flight training centre Monday afternoon to officially unveil the new flight simulator, together with deputy premier Ranj Pillai and Yukon MP Larry Bagnell.
Both the Yukon and federal governments kicked in $100,000 to buy the leading-edge equipment, while the local airline put up $46,463.
Leading edge it is, indeed.
The cockpit is an imitation of a real cockpit with dual seats and controls, and a full-on instrument panel.
It provides chief flight instructor Jenna Collee with the flexibility to run programs for single or more complicated twin-engine aircraft, large or small.
She can simulate onboard emergencies like engine or electrical failures. Pilots will look out the window and see the smoke from an engine fire.
The simulator is fitted with motion sensors so the pilot feels the climb, the descent, the banking and the landing.
Collee said approximately 10 per cent of the flight time required for a pilot’s licence can be logged on the simulator.
Its software holds the topography for the whole world.
Flying out to Marsh Lake at 140 knots and returning to Whitehorse international – YXY – is like flying in a real plane, with real mountains to pay attention to.
College aviation student Helina TenHoeve has already flown the simulator to Vancouver.
TenHoeve never believed she could be a pilot. First of all, she wore glasses. But she learned that wasn’t a problem.
There was still a financial burden.
When she learned what was attainable through the college’s aviation management course after moving to Whitehorse from Abbottsford, B.C., last May, the 29-year-old jumped through the gateway to her dream.
The two-year program provides the opportunity in partnership with Alkan Air to obtain her private and commercial pilot’s licences, with a background in operating a flying business.
It’s pricey, but in line or more cost-competitive than other flight schools across Canada, TenHoeve explained in an interview at Monday’s unveiling.
Some schools, she pointed out, require applicants to already have their private licence.
Not at Yukon College.
TenHoeve said the advantage is that by going through the college, she can apply her student loans toward the required flying hours at Alkan Air. She’s already got 25, and is about to do her first solo flight.
The cost of the college course is around $50,000.
“It’s a bit of a work load,” she said of the flight school and aviation management course. “But it helps when you enjoy it, when you have your heart in it.”
And TenHoeve is quite certain she’ll have a job when she’s done.
So is the president of Alkan Air.
Tayler said if you have a commercial pilot’s licence these days, you can get a job.
Her company, she said, is fortunate it’s not under stress maintaining its flying staff of 30 pilots. For the airline industry in general across the country, it’s a challenge.
Tayler said larger airlines like Air Canada and WestJet are reaching into the classrooms of flight schools to secure recruits even before they graduate.
Having a simulator that you would find in flight schools anywhere makes the Yukon College course that much more attractive, that much more competitive, Tayler suggested.
She told the audience it would not have happened had it not been for endless hours of effort by Barnes and her staff.
Alkan Air has had a flight simulator at its private training centre for 17 years, but nothing like this one, said the company president, who has her private pilot’s licence.
Both Pillai and Bagnell said financial contributions toward the equipment is not only an investment in a local industry that is crucial to the economy, whether it be for tourism, big game outfitting or supplying the mining industry.
It’s also an investment in the opportunity for Yukoners to receive the same quality of flight education they would have had to leave the territory for up until a couple of months ago, they explained.
“Supporting the Yukon as a flight training destination that offers advance training for northern and wilderness conditions will bring more students to the North,” Bagnell told the audience.
“It will also build the pool of pilots who live, work and contribute to the industry’s development.
“This is great for the Yukon, the North and Canada.”
Barnes pointed out there are currently eight students enrolled in the aviation management course, from Old Crow, Carcross, the Northwest Territories, B.C. and Japan.
As the unveiling became less ceremonial, co-pilots Pillai and Bagnell climbed into the cockpit of the flight simulator in the next room.
It was programmed to simulate the twin-engine Piper Seneca 3 sitting on the apron outside the window of the flight school.
Good thing chief instructor Collee was there.