Industry support helps OC soar

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The College’s capacity to train the next generation of commercial pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers (AMEs) continues to be enhanced by support from industry.

On October 6, 2015, to the delight of students and instructors, the College received one of its largest-ever gifts of equipment. A British Aerospace Model Jetstream 31, valued at nearly $700,000 was donated by the Swanberg family of Grande Prairie & Fort St. John, in memory of Sylvan and Dorothy Swanberg.Their son Loran was joined by family members to announce the donation in support of the College’s (AME) M-License program, which trains students in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Swanberg handed the keys to the Jetstream to Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton, who noted that the value of the aircraft as a teaching tool far exceeded any dollar value that could be ascribed to the plane.

“This gift will enrich the training experience for our students for years to come,” said Hamilton.

In the wake of this generous gift, students in the AME program didn’t have to wait long before their training fleet expanded yet again.

flight sim cr photoLess than two weeks later, Carson Air touched down in Vernon with a Metroliner II aircraft, valued at $830,700.The donation marked the company’s second major contribution that fall; in September, Carson Air announced a donation of $125,000 to support the purchase of a Redbird MCX flight simulator for the Commercial Aviation program in Kelowna. A donation of $25,000 from ROV Consulting Inc. also helped power up the flight simulator which was unveiled in its new home - the Centre for Learning building at the Kelowna campus on November 3, 2016. The simulator at Okanagan College is one of only two MCXs in Canada.

“We hope these gifts challenge and inspire many students, as they hone their skills and work towards careers as professional aviators and engineers,” said Kevin Carson, President and Operations Manager of Carson Air.

Industry partnerships are also helping students’ careers take flight.

The College’s Commercial Aviation diploma program, run in concert with flight partners Southern Interior Flight Centre (SIFC), celebrated a quarter-century of operation in 2015. 

In July 2016, Jazz Aviation LP and the College signed an agreement that will see OC participate in the Jazz Aviation Pathways Program (APP), which can serve as a fast track for the OC pilots to land flying careers with the national airline. As a partner school with Jazz, Okanagan College pilots also find themselves eligible to apply to two very significant Jazz-supplied scholarships.

With baby-boomer retirements looming and a serious shortage of aircraft mechanics on the horizon, the College is working with industry partners like Jazz, Carson Air and others to be proactive in addressing skills shortages.

Boeing has projected there will be openings for 584,000 maintenance technicians globally over the next 20 years, just ahead of the estimated need for 533,000 commercial pilots in the same time period.

Click here to go back to the OC Community Report 2016 homepage.