Top aviation courses in Canada
Canada has a long history of aviation, beginning in 1840 when the first manned balloon launched from New Brunswick. Today, the country has a thriving aviation industry and aerospace education. Air Charter Service (ACS) has compiled a selection of Canada’s best aviation universities, offering degrees including BAs, MAs and diplomas in subjects from aerospace engineering to pilot training.
The British Columbia Institute of Technology
The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), based in the city of Burnaby, has offered aerospace courses for more than half a century. Aviation courses are based at BCIT’s Aerospace Technology Campus, which centres around a 40,000 sq. ft. hangar housing the school’s fleet of light piston and corporate jets, turboprops, and light and medium helicopters. BCIT has also been home to a number of prestigious research projects, such as the ongoing National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ study into the use of hydrogen in a custom-designed fuel cell system to reduce greenhouse emissions.
BCIT graduates hold more roles in the aviation industry than the alumni of any other college in British Columbia. Courses are designed to train aircraft maintenance engineers (avionics and maintenance), gas turbine/jet engine technicians, airport operation specialists and commercial pilots.
University of Waterloo
The University of Waterloo’s (UW) two aviation degrees were only introduced in 2007, but have already gained a reputation for combining practical training with academics. Students taking the Geography and Aviation degree at the Faculty of the Environment learn to identify land formations, use multi-layer maps, understand weather patterns and fly a plane, graduating with a Bachelor of Environmental Studies and a Commercial Pilot Licence. The Science and Aviation degree, run through the Faculty of Science, is designed to prepare students for careers in the aviation and aerospace industries. Students can take a physics or earth science specialization, and graduate with a Bachelor of Science and a Commercial Pilot License.
University of the Fraser Valley
Aviation students at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) in southwestern British Columbia can take either an academic route, combining flight training with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration, or a more practical option, studying for a two-year diploma to earn a Commercial Pilot License. The Bachelor’s teaches a combination of flight and business skills, while the diploma mixes classroom studies, in-air flight training, simulator training and multi-engine and instrument training. The university also offers an Aircraft Structures Technician program; a Transport Canada-approved course that provides a thorough introduction to aircraft repair and maintenance. However, UFV doesn’t include flight training in its curriculum: instead students take flying classes externally with an approved flight training provider and transfer course credits over to UFV.
Western University Canada
Though not one of Canada’s major aviation universities, Western University Canada (Western) offers a respected aviation degree: a Bachelor’s in Commercial Aviation Management (CAM). This course comes with a flight option, enabling students to graduate with a Transport Canada approved Integrated Commercial Pilot’s License (ICPL) with multi-engine and instrument ratings. This means graduates can take work as a professional pilot or assume managerial responsibilities with an airline. The flight option is taught at Diamond Flight Centre at London International Airport (CYXU) on four types of aircraft: the Diamond DA20, DA40, DA42 and Grob 115C.
Founded as a vocational college in the 1960s, Ontario’s Sault College has been training professional pilots since 1974, using facilities at Sault Ste. Marie International Airport. Sault’s approach to aviation is practical and focuses on professional skills, with courses including Airline Operations, Airport Administration and Services, Airport Wildlife Management, Aviation Technology - Flight, and Aircraft Structural Repair Technician. Students train on a fleet of Zlin 242L and Piper Seminoles. Some courses, including Aviation Technology - Flight, are only open to Canadian nationals.
Located in greater Toronto, Seneca College’s School of Aviation offers degrees in Aviation Operations, Aviation Technology and Aviation Safety. The college also runs an Airline Pilot Flight Operations program covering airline flight operations, administration and practical training. Alumni of this course can enter an airline and go straight into a first officer position. The school has strong industry links; for instance, all graduates from the Seneca Airline Pilot program are eligible for interviews at Air Georgian. Seneca School of Aviation has its own fleet which includes Cessna 172s, Beechcraft Bonanzas and Barons, G1000 172s and a G1000 Baron with glass cockpit.
Confederation College in Ontario is home to the Aviation Centre of Excellence (ACE), an aviation facility located at the Thunder Bay International Airport, where it holds an apron and taxiway to a runway. At ACE, Confederation College offers five aviation courses: Aerospace Manufacturing Engineering, Technician Aerospace Manufacturing, Engineering Technology, Aviation Technician - Aircraft Maintenance, and Aviation Flight Management. These are two- to three-year diplomas with a focus on professional skills, designed with consultation from industry professionals. ACE’s facility comprises two hangars plus classrooms, labs and shops, and is home to three full-time aviation programs.
Moncton Flight College
Founded in 1929, the Moncton Flight College is a pilot training school located at the Greater Moncton International Airport in Dieppe, New Brunswick, and Canada’s largest private flight school. The college has a second location at Fredericton International Airport in Lincoln, New Brunswick, where the majority of students come from China. The school offers a Bachelor of Science in Aviation, an Integrated Airline Transport Pilot (IATP) and Integrated Commercial Pilot Course (ICPC), and Modular Pilot Training Programs. Since its founding, the college has trained over 20,000 pilots from around 70 countries and has approvals from Transport Canada and the CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China). According to the school, Moncton alumni hold positions as chief pilots, chief flight instructors and government officials.
Fanshawe College is home to the Norton Wolf School of Aviation Technology, an aviation school with a pragmatic industry focus housed in a new $10 million hangar at London International Airport. Norton Wolf offers courses in three sectors: aircraft and engine maintenance, avionics maintenance and structural training for composite aircraft. Courses include Drone Operator, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (Drone) Operations, Aircraft Structural Repair Technician, Aviation Technician, Aircraft Maintenance, Avionics Maintenance, Aviation Technology, and Aircraft Maintenance and Avionics. The school offers a varied fleet of 18 aircraft, 80,000 square feet of learning space and Canada’s only in-school virtual maintenance training laboratory.
Georgian College, a mammoth Ontario school with seven campuses and 12,500 students, runs a three-year diploma course in Aviation Management out of its Barrie Campus in picturesque Kempenfelt Bay. The course is run by Georgian’s Canadian Aviation Institute (CAvI), founded in 1986, and is designed to give students a combination of theoretical understanding and hands-on experience in aviation and management. There is also a mandatory industry work experience component. Graduating students receive a diploma qualification and can study abroad for an extra year to gain either a Bachelor of Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, a Masters in Aviation Management from Griffith University in Australia, or a Masters in Transportation Policy from Loughborough University in the UK.