Pilots in Canada can meet their requirements to stay current without ever getting into an actual airplane, under a rule exemption that was enacted by Transport Canada in August. The change will make pilot training more “cost effective and efficient,” officials at Transport Canada told The Globe in a statement. The agency also said the rules would not put public safety at risk. “Simulators offer pilots a realistic environment that accurately replicates the cockpit and electronic equipment and provides flight and ground-handling capabilities identical to those in an aircraft,” the statement said. The Canadian Federal Pilots Association, which represents federal aviation inspectors, called the rule change “reckless” in a statement posted online on Monday.
“It affects all pilots and assures all pilots can maintain pilot currency and never fly an airplane or helicopter again,” Greg McConnell, CFPA national chair, told the Globe. “There are real safety concerns here.” McConnell said TC enacted the rule mainly to save money, so its own inspectors could stay current without the expense of flying in actual aircraft. Under previous rules, a pilot in Canada could not legally fly an aircraft unless they had acted as a captain or copilot within the previous five years, or completed a flight review with an instructor and met other standards. The new exemption permits all pilots in Canada who have not been a captain or copilot during the past five years, from private pilots to airline pilots, to satisfy the “recency” requirement by way of flight simulator time only.
However, the TC rule does require that the recency requirements are met in a Level C or D simulator, which are full-motion platforms with sophisticated capabilities.