North

Alkan Air opens new flight training facility in Whitehorse

Alkan Air in Whitehorse has opened a new flight training facility, home to its flight training school. The airline has partnered with Yukon College to offer a two-year diploma in aviation management.

Airline partnered with Yukon College earlier this year to offer 2-year aviation management diploma

Alkan Air in Whitehorse has opened a new flight training facility, home to its flight training school. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

Alkan Air in Whitehorse has opened a new flight training facility, home to its flight training school.

Earlier this year, Alkan partnered with Yukon College to offer a two-year diploma in aviation management, where students acquire pilot licences and learn business skills.

"Having the building and the diploma program and the ability to fund it all is really what we're the most proud of," said Wendy Taylor, Alkan's president.

The building at the Whitehorse airport and houses flight simulators and classroom space.

The program is unique in Canada's North and Taylor says Whitehorse offers students a chance to experience a variety of flying conditions.

"We also have gravel runways and we have mountainous terrain and we have cold weather challenges, so you literally get all the benefits of the mountainous remote terrain while still having a busy airport to come in and out of. So they do learn to deal with traffic as well," she said.

Wendy Tayler, Alkan's president, says I can confirm that the major carriers are certainly seeking our pilots and we are losing some of them to the national carriers. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

And when the students aren't in the air or at Alkan's new training facility, they're in class at Yukon College acquiring additional skills to help them become more employable.

"Whether it's around the business aspect of an airline, customer service, logistics, all of those pieces," said Deb Barlette, vice-president of academic and student services at Yukon College.

"So we built those all in to create what we feel is a very strong aviation management program with a very strong northern focus."

International student loving program

So far, there are only a couple of students in the two-year diploma program.

"It's been one of the best things that's happened in my life," said Steve Kinoshita, an international student from Japan.

Because the program is run through Yukon College, he said he's able to get a student visa.

'It's been one of the best things that's happened in my life,' said Steve Kinoshita, an international student from Japan. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)
His wife was already living in Whitehorse when he applied for the program. He's delighted to be reunited with her, his four-month-old baby, and learning to fly.

"It's been a great year for me."

Kinoshita has already completed his first solo flight.

"You get to actually have lots of time to practice."

The program isn't cheap. It costs between $40 to $60,000 for the two years of training.

Taylor says it's expensive but it's comparable with the costs of four-year degrees, condensed into two. She also says there is financial help.

"You can use grants, scholarships and student loans," said Taylor.

"And at the end of the day, once you've completed those two years, there are a lot of career opportunities and an opportunity to really see that pay back."

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