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Brandon Flight Centre Ready To Open Dauphin Operation

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Anyone interested in acquiring a pilot’s licence may soon be able to do so in Dauphin.

Brandon Flight Centre CEO David Creighton said they are waiting for final approval from Transport Canada before offering training locally.

“All of the applications have been submitted and they are reviewing it this week. So we’re just waiting approval from them before we can officially launch,” he said. “We’re hoping within the next couple, three weeks type of thing.”

Student Services co-ordinator Jillian Borreson said there are some students from Dauphin currently training in Brandon.

“And lots of students are starting their ground school. So there is an opportunity to get started for anyone interested. We just can’t fly out of Dauphin just yet,” she said.

When looking into establishing a flight school in Dauphin, Creighton found there was enough interest to warrant such a move.

“Once we started digging into it a little bit more, the number of inquiries that came forward have actually been surprising. Quite impressive,” he said.

According to Creighton, a number of members of the Dauphin Flying Club reached out to a few different flight schools to see if anyone would be interested in operating a satellite school in Dauphin.

“As a means to invigorate some interest in the airport again and in some general aviation flying. We were actually looking at exploring a similar kind of opportunity at the same time, so when the request came in to us, we quickly reached out and touched base with them and started that conversation,” he said.

Borreson said acquiring a pilot’s licence is similar to getting a driver’s licence.

“There’s a ground school component and then there’s the practical in-flight component,” she said. “If you’re just looking for a PPL (private pilot’s licence), you’re going to do about 40 hours of ground school and about 60 hours of flight training.”

Acquiring a commercial pilot’s licence (CPL) requires 200 hours of flight training and 120 hours of ground school.

“So it can be pretty intensive. But there is lots of career opportunities in aviation, especially right now. It’s a pretty diverse career opportunity,” Borreson added.

A PPL, Borreson said, allows you to fly anywhere in the world, but you are limited to the size of the aircraft and you cannot fly at night. A CPL allows you to fly for hire.

Finance manager Samantha Friesen said they will offer a night rating endorsement that would allow any private pilots to operate an aircraft safely at nighttime. The cost of flight training varies on a number of things including how quickly students pick up on it and how much time they are able to devote to it.

“It’s kind of like anything. If you’re able to continually work towards getting your licence, you’re going to obtain the information and progress through it that much faster. If you’re having to do one lesson every couple weeks, you’re playing catch up a little bit, so it will take you longer,” Creighton said.

Friesen said the cost for a PPL is about $15,000 for a full-time student. If you’re starting at zero hours to get the full CPL licence, a fulltime student is looking at between $48,000 and $52,000.

“However, we are a designated learning institution, so you can qualify for student loans or RESPs, that sort of thing. So there’s lots of opportunities to fund your training if you need to,” Borreson said.

Creighton added there are also different scholarships students can apply for to help offset the cost. The plan right now is to offer two or three days of training in Dauphin, but that will depend on the demand.

“Certainly if the demand requires more of us up there, then we’ll be up there,” Borreson said.

Creighton said they do have the resources available, if the demand is there, to have someone here on a full-time basis.

“We absolutely have the aircraft and instructors available to do so,” he said.

The ground school component will have a group of students taking lessons for about three hours in the evening, while the in-flight training is one-on-one.

Creighton said they are excited at being able to expand their services to Dauphin, noting they have been working towards this for quite a while.

“There’s been quite a few inquiries prior to this, as well, from Dauphin and even further north. So to have this opportunity to be able to service that demand is fantastic. We’re very pleased and honoured to able to offer that service and to partner with Dauphin to provide that,” he said.

Dauphin Airport Authority chair Don Dewar felt it would help the airport and local flying community if they could have a flying school in Dauphin.

“Get some new pilots going and maybe it would rejuvenate - there is a Dauphin Flying Club that exists on paper, but that’s the extent of it,” he said.

There are some Dauphin residents taking flying lessons in Shoal Lake and Yorkton, Dewar said.

“We know that there are people interested. We did a bit of a survey early in the spring, when we had discussions and I think there were 10 or 12 that indicated they would do upgrading or get their licence, because there is a requirement to fly a certain number of hours a year,” he said.

Dewar feels a flight school in Dauphin would be a success. There has not been a flight instructor since Dauphin Air Service folded a number of years ago.

“And I know that people, in the meantime, have been going to other locations. Shoal Lake has done a lot of instructing for area residents,” he said, adding it would be good to get some activity going at the airport.

“And to rejuvenate, if we can, the flying club. But nobody knows for sure if that will have an impact.”

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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