Sky Wings Aviation Academy continues to fly high.
The pilot training company based out of Springbrook’s Red Deer Airport has been training Canadian and international pilots for years.
An ongoing contract with Chinese air carriers has seen 20 pilots trained over the last couple of years. The company is also negotiating with contacts in India to train pilots for that country’s airline industry.
That activity has prompted Sky Wings owner Dennis Cooper to look at expanding by providing a residence for up to 28 student pilots right next to his hangar.
Red Deer County’s municipal planning commission conditionally approved the portable housing unit on Tuesday.
“It’s great that Red Deer County recognizes the importance of flight training and helping with the growth and development at the airport,” said Cooper.
International clients like to have facilities where their pilots can live, cook and relax with each other, which prompted the new housing unit.
“They’ve done this in a number of airports across Canada,” Cooper said, citing Abbotsford and Medicine Hat. “It’s starting to become more of the standard.
“This is not only for foreign students. There is also a challenge for Canadian students to find housing. This will help them in that area.”
Through a contract with a Chinese company, 20 of their pilots have already been trained up to commercial multi-engine certification. The next group of 10 will be coming in a few weeks.
Cooper said he has housing on site for 14 pilots now and the new building will provide space for another 28 in 14 double-occupancy rooms. The building is similar to those used in oil and gas industry camps.
Representatives from India are coming to Springbrook soon to check out the facilities.
“They have a big AirBus simulator that would need to be moved into place. So we’re in the process of showing them what hangar they can put it in,” he said, adding a 737 simulator would also be coming if the deal gets signed.
Sky Wings has trained more than 60 Indian students already and as many as 20 at a time be sent to Springbrook for training under the proposed deal.
Red Deer Airport is also home to Montair Aviation, which has trained dozens of pilots.
Central Alberta is well suited to flight schools, which can count on 300 days of flying weather a year.