Pilots fly a range of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) aircraft in a variety of roles: Search and Rescue, Fighter, Transport, Tactical Helicopter, or Maritime Patrol.
The primary responsibilities of a Pilot are to plan communicate, coordinate and execute tactical missions in support of civil authority or military objectives, such as humanitarian and disaster relief, and air intercept operations. They work with sophisticated technology for precision tactical navigation systems, advanced communication systems, sensor systems, counter-measure systems and weapon delivery systems.
Pilots work in a variety of areas, ranging from northernmost parts of Canada to duties supporting the Royal Canadian Navy. The working environment depends on the military role assigned to the Pilot. Search and Rescue Pilots are deployed anywhere in Canada to rescue people in distress and emergency situations. Fighter Pilots protect Canadians and defend our interests abroad. Transport Pilots deliver humanitarian aid to people around the world. Tactical Helicopter Pilots support aid distribution and peacekeeping missions. Maritime Patrol Pilots protect Canadian coasts.
Pay and career development
The starting salary for a fully trained Pilot is $75,000 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher.
Related civilian occupations
- Airline pilot
- Medical evacuation pilot
- Flight instructor
Basic military officer qualification
After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 15 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the CAF, basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic officer training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.
Following basic officer training, official second language training may be offered to you. Training could take from two to nine months to complete depending on your ability in your second language.
Pilots attend Primary Flying Training at the Canadian Forces Flying Training School in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. This course introduces you to the military flying environment and procedures. Continued training depends on successfully completing this course.
The next phase is the Prerequisite Training Course which introduces you to various effects of flying on the human body, air safety procedures, and basic survival techniques in the event of an emergency on land or over water. The course includes:
- Aeromedical Training:
- The effects of high “G” forces
- The effects of high altitudes
- Operation of oxygen supply
- Operation of ejection seat
- Basic Land Survival
- Basic Sea Survival:
- Parachute landing techniques
- Water entry
- Sea survival skills
Basic Flying Training takes place at the NATO Flight Training Centre in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan for 8 months. Pilots are trained to fly aircraft in a military environment through classroom, simulator and in-flight instruction. As well, you will receive leadership development training to prepare you for your responsibilities to and for your aircrew. Based on flying performance, academic standing and leadership evaluation, you will be assigned to one of three Advanced Flying Training paths:
- Rotary Wing Training: offered at Portage-la-Prairie, Manitoba, you will complete the Basic Helicopter Course on the Jet Ranger helicopter
- Multi-Engine Training: offered at Portage-la-Prairie, Manitoba, you will train on the Beech Raytheon King Air C-90A
- Fast Jet: offered at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, you will train on the Harvard II as a Fighter Pilot and an Instructor Pilot
At the end of the Advanced Flying Training, you will receive your Pilot’s Wings and proceed to an Operational Training Unit for training with the aircraft and in the role you have been assigned before being posted to an Operational Squadron.
Corrective Surgery for Vision
Applicants who wear glasses, contacts, or have had certain types of laser refractive surgery to improve their vision may apply for the Pilot occupation. However, Radial Keratotomy or corneal reshaping procedures are not approved for Pilots.
If you already have a university degree, the CAF will decide if your academic program matches the criteria for this job and may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military officer qualification training are required before being assigned.
Regular officer training plan
Because this position requires a university degree, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete a bachelor degree program at a Canadian university. They receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for working with the CAF for a period of time.
Typically, candidates enter the Canadian Military College System as an Officer Cadet where they study subjects relevant to both their military and academic career. In some instances, the CAF is able to pay for Officer Cadets to attend other Canadian universities in a relevant degree program. Officer Cadets who attend other Canadian universities typically attend university during the regular academic year and participate in additional military training during the summer months. If you choose to apply to this program, you must apply both to the CAF and the Canadian university of your choice. For more information, see Paid education.
Continuing Education Officer Training Plan (CEOTP) – Pilot
If you have a high school diploma from a school recognized by a Canadian provincial or territorial education ministry, you may be eligible for the CAF combined degree and pilot training program. This unique training program enables Officer Cadets to obtain a Bachelor of Aviation Technology and Pilot’s Wings over a four-year period, as opposed to earning a four-year degree prior to starting pilot training. In the first year of this program, candidates will complete Basic Military Officer Training, followed by Phase 1 Military Flying Training. In their second year, successful candidates will move into the academic phase at Seneca College in Toronto, Ontario. During the remaining two years of this program, candidates will complete their military flying training and the remainder of their studies at Seneca College. Graduates of this program are required to serve seven years as a Pilot with the CAF.
In addition to having your high school diploma or Sec V in Québec, you must also have achieved or be on your way to achieving six high school academic level credits with minimum 65 percent average in:
- English (ENG4(U))
- Mathematics: Calculus and Vectors (MCV4(U), or Que 536)
- Mathematics: Advanced Functions (MHF4(U))
- Physics (SPH4(U))
If you would like to apply to the combined degree and pilot training program, select “CEOTP – Pilot” when filling out the online application.
This occupation is available part-time within the following environment: Air Force
Serve with the Reserve Force
This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time at an Air Force Wing in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.
Pilots employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis usually serve at a Royal Canadian Air Force Wing or Squadron located within Canada, including the North and fly CAF aircraft in Search and Rescue, Transport and Tactical Helicopter roles.
Reserve Force training
This occupation has a limited enrolment in the Reserve Force for unskilled applicants and is greatly dependent on previous flying experience. For successful candidates, following basic officer training, Primary Flying Training for the Pilot qualification begins at the Canadian Forces Flying Training School in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba and continued training to achieve Wings standard depends on successfully completing this course. Many Pilots who are employed part time are former members of the Regular Force with a Pilot qualification who component-transferred to the Reserve Force.
Air Reserve members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts and are employed in the same unit and perform the same job. Air Reserve members usually serve up to 12 days per month in a regular work day, with opportunities to serve full-time for short durations as needed. Reserve Force members are paid 85 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.
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