Company Defends Training Chinese Pilots


A South African flight school has confirmed that three former Canadian fighter pilots are training pilots in China but denies they’re doing anything wrong. In response to questions from the Globe newspaper, Edward Lee, spokesman for the Test Flying Academy of South Africa (TFASA), said Paul Umrysh, David Monk and Craig Sharp are not passing along any NATO secrets to their Chinese students and use only open-source materials or curriculum supplied by the customer. “The training TFASA provides never includes information about NATO,” Lee told the Globe. “TFASA has strict protocols and a code of conduct in place that are designed to prevent any TFASA employee sharing any information or training that is, or might be considered to be, legally or operationally sensitive, or security classified.”

Several NATO countries, including Germany, the U.K., Canada and the U.S., are investigating the actions of former military pilots who work for TFASA. Lee said their training has already been cleared by the U.S. and U.K. but did not supply any supporting documents. Meanwhile, both the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canadian Security Intelligence Service have confirmed they’re investigating the three former Royal Canadian Air Force pilots. Lee said Canadian officials have contacted the three who have been named and an unspecified number of other TFASA employees contacted others asking them to quit their jobs. Lee said there is reason for them to stop. “Any suggestion that the company, or its employees, offer assistance in equipping foreign powers with advanced tactics, techniques or procedures, or advanced technology, is simply incorrect,” he told the Globe.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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    • Officially maybe, but why don’t you go out and try to fly a spy balloon over sensitive military areas all across America and see what happens to you, maybe they were just giving balloon rides to happy passengers. Joe Biden is our enemy for allowing this. In my opinion, it is treasonous behavior. But then again, he isn’t in charge of anything with his failed mental capacity.

      • China is our biggest ally (as far as trade and lending money to the U.S.Government). You cannot call them an enemy and take their money; they are a partner as far as normal definitions go.

      • I don’t think there are any Russians. And there ain’t no Yanks. Just corporate criminals Playin’ with tanks.

    • I have to agree with A.J., this sounds like a tempest in a teapot sort of huff. And look at it in the other direction; you could just as well push the theory the trainers were bringing back intelligence from within the Chinese aviation establishment.

    • They are an economic and military adversary. So technically by definition you are correct. However, in the 1930s, we didn’t consider Germany or Japan our “enemy” either. In fact we did business with both and turned the other way when they started threatening neighbors and ostracizing their own marginalized people. How’d that work out for the world a few years later? Yet the parallels are strikingly similar to then vs. now and the Chicomm activities.

      • Then every country with an economy and military strength is “an enemy”? As far as I can tell, we make up “enemies” to justify large military spending. Hell, we are trading partners with Vietnam now! Seriously, what do we get with calling someone an “enemy” and then send 40 trillion in weapons/arms to a questionable nation to fight “the enemy”. I’ve lived too long to be fooled by government labels.

        • Surely you mean 40 billion? Also, if for some reason you like Ukraine even less than Russia, what exactly is wrong with the administration’s actions to date in Ukraine? They’ve basically helped turn the fight into a slow meat grinder by supplying weapons which were mostly on the way to obsolescence, built to deter Russians, and are killing Russians without loss of American blood.
          By the time the Russians get to Poland, Poland won’t need our help!

        • If history teaches us anything, we should listen and learn. Neville Chamberlain tried to appease the Germans (Nazis) in 1938, thus guaranteeing that Britain would have to fight the Germans a year later. America did trade business with both Germany and Japan in the mid ’30s, only to go to war with both in 1942. Helping the Ukrainians fight Russia is a good way to fight an enemy without spilling American blood.
          Doing nothing would simply embolden Putin to then go after other NATO allies. Appeasing the Chinese by assuming they won’t be our adversary if we do trade with them is an equally bad decision, especially since they have openly expressed the intent to invade Taiwan, an ally, major trading partner and an independent nation. Look back on what China did to Hong Kong after they took it back from the UK.

    • You don’t train people who are very likely to become your enemy in the near future.
      Imo, that conpany should be disbanded and their leadership incarcerated.

    • Do friends copy outlines of our Carriers to practice bombing them? I think not!
      They are most definitely an enemy. Wake up!

  1. Do tell us the names of the officials in the UK and France (which should also be on the list — there is a video of a French pilot ejecting with student when a made in china motor broke) who signed off on the deal.
    Very much doubt you will find them.
    This is just another mercenary outfit from South Africa, and the pilots who worked in China should be thrown into the glasshouse for 10 years at least.
    Most are still under military law as reservists, so it is a real possibility it will happen.

  2. If they were not interested in discovering our tactics and procedures, why are the Chinese not training their pilots themselves? That is the only reason they are contracting and hiring US, Canadian and European trained pilots so they can learn our tactics.