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Red Deer Regional Airport companies get aviation funding

Air Spray and Sky Wings Aviation Academy get funding through Aviation Skills Grant
An Air Spray airtanker in action. (Photo from Air Spray Facebook page)

A pair of Red Deer Regional Airport-based companies are getting provincial financial help to train aviation workers.

Forest firefighting company Air Spray (1967) Ltd. will receive $232,288 for pilot and maintenance training for its fleet of air tankers and other aircraft. The money will cover the cost of training 45 pilots, aircraft mechanics and inspectors.

Flight training school Sky Wings Aviation Academy Ltd. will receive up to $11,100 to provide training for an existing employee to fill a vacant flight instructor position.

The Alberta government says it is investing $5 million in the province’s aviation industry to help fill a growing demand for workers and position Alberta as Canada’s aviation hub.

Alberta’s aviation industry is experiencing skyrocketing growth and employers need more skilled workers to support this momentum. Fourteen employers will receive funding through the Aviation Skills Grant.

Grant recipients will receive up to $30,000 per trainee to help offset training costs for new or vacant positions. More than half of requested training is for pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers, which are key in-demand occupations for Alberta’s aviation industry, says the government.

“Alberta’s aviation industry is soaring to new heights and the province is well on its way to becoming Canada’s next aviation hub,” said Jobs, Economy and Trade Minister Matt Jones in a Tuesday statement announcing the funding.

“Funding delivered through the Aviation Skills Grant will help Alberta’s aviation employers access the skills and talent they need to grow their businesses and support vitality in the sector.”

Transportation and Economic Corridors Minister Devin Dreeshen said that “as a landlocked province, investing in our aerospace industry is key to developing economic corridors, expanding market access and to helping create local jobs. That’s why we are providing $4.6 million to support community airports through the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program.

“These investments, along with the Aviation Skills Grant, demonstrate our government’s commitment to growing Alberta’s aviation sector.”

Alberta’s aviation industry and its 272 air transportation-related businesses is ranked third in Canada by company size and employs about 25,000 people.

Grant recipients include small and large-sized employers that represent air transportation, flight schools and aircraft maintenance businesses across Alberta.

Among those to receive funding is Calgary-based WestJet, Canada’s second-largest airline. It will receive up to $3 million to conduct aircraft maintenance and undertake flight attendant, airport agent and aircraft type training. About 1,150 new and current employees will be trained to fill vacant positions in aircraft instrument, electrical and avionics mechanics; technicians and inspectors,; pursers and flight attendants; ticket and service agents and pilots.

The Aviation Skills Grant is part of Alberta at Work – a multi-year provincial investment of more than $700 million to help Albertans develop new skills and grow their careers to support Alberta’s economy. A second round of aviation grant applications will be accepted this fall.

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