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RCAF cites "Labour Shortage" In Hiring Foreign Pilots

George Wallace

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The debate on foreign workers has now opened up questions on CAF hiring practices.  What is overlooked in this article, is the number of Canadian pilots who leave the RCAF and head over to 'greener' pastures in other Commonwealth and Allied nation's air forces.


Reproduced under the Fair Dealings provisions of the Copyright Act.


LINK

THE STAR

Air force hiring foreign pilots to fly front-line jets

Royal Canadian Air Force cites a “labour shortage” for why it has hired former military pilots from overseas to fly transport jets and patrol aircraft.

By: Bruce Campion-Smith
Ottawa Bureau, Published on Mon Jun 23 2014

OTTAWA—Canada’s air force has been hiring foreign pilots to fly its front-line transport aircraft, maritime patrol planes and fighter jets, citing an inability to recruit Canadians to fill seats in the military cockpits.

As debate rages about temporary foreign workers allowed into Canada to fill jobs in sectors like the service industry, it turns out that the Canadian Armed Forces has also gone abroad to fill its own labour needs.

Citing a “labour shortage,” the military has been recruiting pilots from foreign countries — notably the French and British air forces — to work in Canada and train Canadian pilots but also fly on operational missions around the globe.

The foreign fliers are being pressed to fly many of the aircraft in the air force fleet, including the CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft, the C-130 Hercules and CC-177 Globemaster transport jets.

The transport pilots are being hired for “pilot training as well as global strategic and tactical air transport.”

The labour market opinions that were prepared by the Defence Department in order to proceed with the foreign hires outline the needs of the air force.

A Royal Air Force pilot from the United Kingdom with experience in anti-submarine warfare and long-range sovereignty patrol missions was sought to fly the CP-140 Aurora.

“With minimal training he will be employed as a CP 140 Aurora aircraft commander where his experience will be used to help train new RCAF long range patrol crews,” read the labour market opinion.

Another RAF pilot with experience on the CC-177 Globemaster — a transport aircraft also flown by Canada’s military — was brought onboard as an instructor.

A pilot from the Hungarian Air Force was hired as an instructor to train student pilots in the Canadian Air Force.

Other pilots experienced in air-to-air refuelling operations were sought from the Royal Air Force to fly the CC-150 Polaris jet, which is used as both a transport and a refueller.
In each case, the air force says it was forced to go abroad to hire personnel to fill a position it was “unable to fill through normal recruiting and training.”

However, the military says it is trying to recruit Canadians to serve as pilots.

“Canadians are regularly recruited as Pilots and will continue to be recruited and trained through the (Canadian Armed Forces) well established Officer and Pilot training programs,” reads one labour market opinion.

The air force has hired 24 former foreign military pilots since 2012, including 19 from the United Kingdom, two from Hungary, and one each from Germany, France and South Africa, said Maj. James Simiana.

“Those hires are complementary . . . to the hiring and training of Canadian pilots that is also taking place,” said Simiana, a spokesperson for the air force.

But Gilles Hudicourt, a pilot with Air Transat who obtained the labour market opinions, says the air force has gone abroad to find experienced pilots to avoid the cost of training Canadians.
“They pretend . . . that they’re actually going after some new skill,” Hudicourt told the Star. “They’re doing it to save on training money.”

Hudicourt has previously complained about the influx of foreign pilots allowed into Canada to work for charter airlines, like Sunwing, as well as helicopter companies, which he says takes away jobs from Canadians.

And he says that applies to the air force when it hires military pilots from abroad to fill empty seats in its cockpits.

He said the immigration rules are meant to permit organizations to hire abroad to fill a labour need “when there is no qualified Canadians to do the job,” Hudicourt said.
“You’re not allowed to do it to save money,” he said.

“They’re just taking these guys because they were already trained and it’s just going to be cheaper for national defence . . . it doesn’t seem right to me,” he said.
The air force says it takes about seven years — and $2.6 million — to train a pilot to fly the CF-18 fighter jet.

In background material provided to the Star, the air force concedes that cost is a big factor in hiring former military pilots since the experienced aviators require little training and can be put to work immediately, filling gaps that “could not otherwise be filled in the short to medium term.”

On Friday, Employment Minister Jason Kenney unveiled changes to the temporary foreign worker program to address concerns that it was driving down wages and leaving Canadians unemployed.

While the changes focus mostly on low-wage, low-skilled entry level jobs, Kenney’s overhaul does touch on the issue of foreign pilots.

No longer will airlines be allowed to make it a requirement that would-be pilots hold a type rating for a specific aircraft since the airline can provide that training.

As well, the airline will have to present a transition plan outlining its strategy to reduce its reliance on foreign pilots while increasing its complement of Canadian pilots.

“There was a consensus that there is no shortage of Canadian commercial pilots who could be trained to fly specific types of aircraft,” reads a briefing note.

It wasn’t clear whether the changes would affect the air force’s use of foreign pilots.



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DAA

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The elite of the Middle East hire all our Pilots.....especially the ones who fly the Challengers.

http://skiesmag.com/news/article/CanucksinCairo

 

Journeyman

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George Wallace said:
Royal Canadian Air Force cites a “labour shortage”
Well, there goes the pilot-wannabe Recruiting threads again......  >:D
 

Rocky Mountains

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We are not fighting a war and not one pilot is truly critical to national security.  The body of trained airmen is critical to the long-term viability of the forces, not whether a particular aircraft flies Tuesday morning.  Somebody wearing blue needs a talking to.  Training is probably more important than doing.
 

DonaldMcL

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Colin P said:
A air reserve squadron flying lightly armed hawks would solve this issue.

What issue? The overall lack of experience of CF Pilots being filled by hiring a handful of experienced pilots from other countries? I fail to see the issue.
 

George Wallace

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Rocky Mountains said:
We are not fighting a war and not one pilot is truly critical to national security.  The body of trained airmen is critical to the long-term viability of the forces, not whether a particular aircraft flies Tuesday morning.  Somebody wearing blue needs a talking to.  Training is probably more important than doing.


I think you missed the point.  Training is only good if you have experienced people to conduct it.  If you don't have the experience, what lessons are you teaching? 
 

MilEME09

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Now I could be wrong but the way I heard this story was that the RCAF is meeting its quotas for new pilots, and the main issue is that many of it's experienced pilots have left and these pilots from Europe (mostly) have been brought on as instructors to have the experience there to train the new pilots. Why not give them some flight hours while at it?
 

Colin Parkinson

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Hence the reason for an air reserve squadron equipped with smaller jets with some armament which would allow you to keep and maintain pilots who have transferred to civy street. I talked to a number of pilots that went for the bigger salaries but missed the flying they did in the Forces.
 

Rocky Mountains

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Colin P said:
Hence the reason for an air reserve squadron equipped with smaller jets with some armament which would allow you to keep and maintain pilots who have transferred to civy street. I talked to a number of pilots that went for the bigger salaries but missed the flying they did in the Forces.

What??  An American style military??  I am not sure if they still do but the Air National Guard used to train pilots from scratch as in George W. Bush. 
 

Loachman

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Colin P said:
Hence the reason for an air reserve squadron equipped with smaller jets with some armament which would allow you to keep and maintain pilots who have transferred to civy street. I talked to a number of pilots that went for the bigger salaries but missed the flying they did in the Forces.

What does this accomplish, and how?

The airline guys tend to live where there are large civ airports that are too busy to sustain military ops, and are also in noise-sensitive areas. This proposed Squadron would need some infrastructure, which tends to be challenging to find and/or fund in such places. That includes hangars and office space, and, as you suggested armament, arming/de-arming areas and suitable ranges. Yes, there may be areas around various large cities that could benefit from a good strafing run or six, but somebody would probably object.

Suitable military aerodromes tend to be in places lacking in reasonably-large civ/ex-CF Pilot populations.

And what would their role(s) be? If there is no useful purpose, there is no justification.
 

Eye In The Sky

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Rocky Mountains said:
We are not fighting a war and not one pilot is truly critical to national security.  The body of trained airmen is critical to the long-term viability of the forces, not whether a particular aircraft flies Tuesday morning.  Somebody wearing blue needs a talking to.  Training is probably more important than doing.

I'm going to guess you've never worked at an operational sqn before. 

Don't be too rash to make judgements based on a 'tip of the iceberg' perspective from a news article; this likely has more to do with "adding to the story/controversy about the hiring foreign workers' stuff on the go now than it does anything; i.e. its "good news" to keep a story going.  I work with aircrew from a few different countries, and IMO the experience they bring to the table just adds to the RCAF capabilities.  The British scrapped the entire Nimrod fleet.  The guys who crewed those have oodles of experience doing what LRP does, as an example.  Take a look at the RAAF and you'll see some "born in Canada" aircrew, who were flying for the RCAF before.  This isn't a new thing, just a "news" thing.

I don't see an issue (as a taxpayer or RCAF type), that's my 'from the inside looking out' perspective as a line sqn dude.  When I'm along for the ride 200' doing 60 and 2s, I don't really much care what country the guys and gals on the Flight Deck were born and raised in.  There's way more important things at times like that.

I'd be curious to know when this information was "discovered".  Was it today?  Or before the recent change in policy on foreign workers that is part of the 'weekly news buzz'? 

:2c:
 

dimsum

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After reading that article, I wonder if those pilots Canada "hired" are actually just exchange officers?  I remember seeing a pic from Combat Camera a while back about a French exchange fighter pilot, and I wonder if the Hungarian guy is part of the NATO training component in Moose Jaw.  If I recall, LRP sqns have exchange folks (USN, RAF, etc.) regularly.
 

SeaKingTacco

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No, we have hired a reasonable number of ex military pilots from other countries.

Instead of spending 20 years and literally millions of dollars, we get an experienced air leader for the cost of annual salary.

Pretty good deal, if you ask me.
 

dimsum

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SeaKingTacco said:
No, we have hired a reasonable number of ex military pilots from other countries.

Instead of spending 20 years and literally millions of dollars, we get an experienced air leader for the cost of annual salary.

Pretty good deal, if you ask me.

Really...

I think it's high time to reverse-recruit folks from the Australian Defence Force.  They already think that Canada is an imaginary land of cheap food, good drinks and amazing snow sports, and my occasional (ok, constant) FB posts about Victoria and Comox have already convinced some RAAF P-3 friends to come visit.  >:D
 

SeaKingTacco

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In many cases, the guys we are hiring (experience-wise) are replacing the ones who did not get recruited in the mid to late 90s and when the pilot production mill failed to meet targets in the early 2000s.

There is no Canadian source for a guy/gal with 15-20 years of military flight experience...except for the CF.

These guys are not displacing Canadians from getting recruited and hired at the front end of the mill as 2LTs.
 

The_Falcon

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The article is misleading  on a number of fronts (no surprise there  ::) ) Since the Toronto RC process all these people, I saw quite a few come through 1) The CAF isn't having trouble filling slots for pilot training, what we are lacking (as others have noted) is qualified instructors, and almost without exception their first posting is an instructor billet.  2) They are not coming over as "Temporary Foreign Workers", they are coming over as conditional permanent residents (or whatever the proper term is), and they sign an agreement that they will obtain their citizenship in a specified time frame.  3) I posted the specific numbers (obtained via a FOI request) in another thread, the actual annual number of these pilots is like less than 20 per year IIRC. 

The process for these guys is very long as they not only have to go through ALL the hoops for enrollment (CFAT, interviews, Aircrew Medical, Pre-Sec Clearance), they have to go through a concurrent process with Immigration as well (and quite a few are still in their national military, so they have to work all this around their schedules there). 

Definately NOT the same as Temporary Foreign Workers.
 

Eye In The Sky

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Dimsum said:
If I recall, LRP sqns have exchange folks (USN, RAF, etc.) regularly.

Still the case; USN, RAF, RAAF at our Sqn.  My skipper is RAAF and not only a great pilot, a great Officer as well. 
 

Colin Parkinson

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Loachman said:
What does this accomplish, and how?

The airline guys tend to live where there are large civ airports that are too busy to sustain military ops, and are also in noise-sensitive areas. This proposed Squadron would need some infrastructure, which tends to be challenging to find and/or fund in such places. That includes hangars and office space, and, as you suggested armament, arming/de-arming areas and suitable ranges. Yes, there may be areas around various large cities that could benefit from a good strafing run or six, but somebody would probably object.

Suitable military aerodromes tend to be in places lacking in reasonably-large civ/ex-CF Pilot populations.

And what would their role(s) be? If there is no useful purpose, there is no justification.

The current "fix" while being a good idea is yelling at everyone that our system is broken, you need a way to keep pilots connected to the job and having a reserve squadron which they can go to to maintain those skills is one of the ways to do it and at lesser costs than the larger aircraft. Once we get a new fleet of aircraft which hopefully will have a higher in service rate the demands for pilots is likely to increase.
 

George Wallace

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This is not a current "fix".  It is a recent case of "fill a column on a slow news day".

This practice has been going on for decades among all our allies.  We have accepted experienced pilots from foreign nations for decades, just as we have seen Canadian pilots migrate to foreign air forces.  We have always had the problem of skilled pilots accepting positions at civilian airlines. 

As for Reservists filling flying positions.  Again, old news.  Perhaps not as prevalent today as it was years ago, but I knew a Reservist in Fredericton, who flew ASW missions out of Greenwood as a Air Reserve pilot.  Perhaps he was a rare case, but it does show that there are possibilities.  However, the usual problems with Reservists still persist; availability.
 
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