Program hailed as most up-to-date in Canada

At Mount Royal University’s Springbank aviation facility, seven new aircraft were revealed April 12, putting the university at the forefront of aviation technologies and programs in Canada.

“For aviation students, the arrival of seven state-of-the-art planes means outstanding opportunities for development and honing their skills in sophisticated aircraft,” said David Docherty, president of MRU.

The new fleet is an investment of $4 million from MRU and includes three TECHNAM twin-engine planes and four Cessna single-engine planes. Both aircraft are known for their reliability, safety and up-to-date equipment.

President David Docherty, left, said that Mount Royal University was dedicated to providing the most hands-on approach to learning and the new planes were the next step.
Photo by: Casey Magnus
“We think a hallmark of Mount Royal is the engagement between students and faculty, and the opportunity for our students to have experiential hands-on learning,” Docherty said.

“When you’ve got the best planes and the best aviation programs in the country, then you’re going to attract students from all over,” Docherty added.

Wayne Cave, director of flight operations for the University of the Fraser Valley’s aviation program, called Coastal Pacific Aviation Ltd., said that even though Mount Royal has new planes, it is the quality of students that matters.

He said that although Fraser’s planes are not as new, his program is continually upgrading their systems to remain current with industry standards.

“All pilots like to have new airplanes,” Cave said. “Mount Royal has always had a good name, so I expect they’ll continue to do the same thing.”

Docherty said the addition of MRU’s new planes would benefit the university as well as the students.

“From an institutional perspective it increases our national reputation, but from an individual perspective it is giving our students the best possible experience,” Docherty said.

Duncan Lewis, a second-year aviation student, said flying these planes takes some getting used to, but it is an amazing experience.

“It is really impressive how these aircraft fly,” Lewis said. “They are very powerful, but you can fly a lot more safely and you can monitor your systems a lot easier.”

Lewis added that having new aircraft gives Mount Royal an advantage in training.Mount Royal University students helped unveil the new aircraft and said they were excited to be flying brand new planes with current aviation technology.
Photo by: Casey Magnus

“A lot of flight schools rely on older aircraft, whereas this is brand-new and much more reliable.”

The new aircrafts also give students more opportunities to train and become familiar with current flight technologies.

“It gives them more exposure to a variety of things, because we still have traditional instruments in simulators on campus, and then we have the new technology in these airplanes,” said Deanna Wiebe, chief-flight instructor for Mount Royal. “It just depends on what they want to do.”

Mark Benson, a full-time aviation and simulation instructor at Mount Royal, said these planes show just how much the school backs the program.

“When we first went to the board of governors this was the ‘If I’m dreaming, I want a pony’ plan and they supported us all the way,” he said.

Unlike other MRU instructional programs, aviation does not receive government funding; instead, all funds come from Mount Royal University and through donations, but Docherty said that buying the planes is a great long-term investment.

“We’ve had planes that we’ve leased before,” Docherty said, before explaining that the leasing cost in comparison to buying the planes outright will be beneficial in the long run.

The new planes will also have a lower running cost than older planes, which Benson said will give students more actual flight time during training.

“It’s partly about maintenance costs and reliability issues — they are brand new — but it’s all about the training for the students,” Benson said. “It’s about keeping up with what the industry is doing.”

Prior to graduation, every aviation diploma student will log around 250 hours of flight time using Mount Royal aircraft.

cmagnus@cjournal.ca