I am a former Captain for PALExpress, an airline in the Philippines. I have a valid CAAP ATPL and am rated for the DHC8-400 and sadly was part of the retrenchment program for Philippine Airlines last February 2021. I have roughly 2800 hours on the DHC8-400 and I am currently located in Edmonton, Alberta and would soon be petitioned to be a Permanent Resident here in Canada soon. I am currently looking into transferring my valid ATPL license into a Transport Canada license as I would love to still try and pursue a career in aviation.

I would just like to gather any information in this forum I could use on this topic. I have sent a couple of emails to local flying schools in the area and also to Transport Canada and have received responses from them. Regulations state that I would be required a valid Class 1 Medical Certificate along with my license, and would have to complete a couple of exams and a skill test for the conversion.

My concern is that I do not have a valid Class 1 Medical certificate with my ATPL and also am not current. Does Transport Canada require me to have a medical certificate that is issued by the same issuing authority of my license, or would I be able to apply for a Class 1 Transport Canada medical for this purpose? Also I am currently rated for the DHC8-400 only and would not be able to do recurrency on the aircraft cause of the possible expense it would cost. Would it be possible for me to be trained and then be rated by a TCCA Check pilot, for a Multi-engine aircraft that could be used for the skill test? Or would I have to get current and get an aircraft rating from the issuing authority of my license?

I was wondering if there are other people here who have gone through the same thing about and would love to hear your story as to how you got back to flying. Any information and help in this matter is well appreciated.

Safe Skies everyone, Thanks!


1 Answer 1


Welcome to Canada. TC's foreign pilot licensing conversion requirements are here. TC expects you to have a medical from your home authority but they don't say it needs to be current. In any case, you'll need to get a Canadian Cat 1 with a CAME (Canadian Aviation Medical Examiner) here, so go do that right away. Expect a delay getting paperwork because of the Federal Government you-know-what protocols has really slowed everything down, so the sooner the better.

You also will have to do the SARON, SAMRA (ATPL) and INRAT (IFR) exams. The ATPL exam requirements in Canada are much lower than the EASA I am told (numerous exams for the EASA ATPL vs only two in Canada), so not so bad in comparison. I don't know why they include the IFR exam, since much of the content is duplicated in the ATPLs. I guess they want the maximum amount of the basics covered.

Start studying for the exams, and I recommend taking an ATPL seminar given by several companies that do so (they are mainly side hustles done by airline pilots - I attended both an INRAT and ATPL seminar and really enjoyed them and they will improve your exam mark quite a lot, plus you get a bit of networking contacts going - it's a very "small world" in Canada). It'll depend on how good your existing knowledge base is relative to Canadian requirements and that will become apparent when you start to self-study for the exams (for example, a lot of the material relates to flying and navigation in the far north etc, which I'm sure is a new thing for someone coming from the tropics).

The skill test is the Multi-engine Instrument Rating check ride (unlike the US, in Canada you have to do your IFR ride in a twin to fly twins in instrument conditions). During the Multi-IFR ride you will shoot an ILS and Non-Precision Approach and do a simulated engine failure on an NPA missed approach, while under the hood (it's usually on the non-precision approach so you aren't doing zero thrusting engines close to the ground).

So, you'll need to go to a flying school like a newbie, get checked out in their multi-engine trainer (like a Seminole), and do as much as possible as sim time if they have one of those basic motion simulators like the Red Bird to save a few bucks. So the amount of time and money is going to depend on previous experience in the trainer they use, your own sharpness after being off-line, differences in country related procedures, etc. Figure on a total cost maybe between 2-5k for a few hours in a twin and sim, study guides, and all that.

Don't worry about your type rating. An employer that hires you will take care of recurrent training if you're hired for D-8s, or an initial course as applicable if you're hired for RJs or some such and it's a new type, so the only major expense will be for the light twin and sim time and the training materials.

And of course, make sure your logs are up to date and all that.

I don't think that after jumping through all the hoops you'll have too much trouble getting a job with your experience, as the industry slowly ramps up, because there was a fairly severe shortage of experienced pilots before all the crazy business happened (Jazz is recalling pilots on furlough, and a friend's very-low-time daughter who had just started flying there, then went on layoff in early 2020, is going back to do recurrent and return to the line on the 400).

Good luck!

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks so much for answering John K! I'm hoping to get to do the exams as soon as I get my spousal sponsorship approved so I can get to training for the Flight exam as soon as I can. Do you think that my currency would be an issue with the conversion? Would I still be able to get a certification to fly to train here in Canada? Also would my current rating be enough to fly a multi-engine aircraft here, even though I am not rated for it? It works differently in the Philippines, because you need to be rated for each aircraft that you fly, yes even if its just a C172 even if you fly the Airbus. $\endgroup$
    – jdjoya
    Nov 5, 2021 at 3:17
  • $\begingroup$ Currency would be taken care of by virtue of meeting the Can requirements. For the purpose of the Can ATPL, I would say you are current by virtue of passing the exams and a multi-IFR checkride and TC issues you a Cdn ATPL. The multi-ifr is a basic part of the ATPL, so you if you have it, you can fly whatever you want, only subject to type rating requirements on a/c over 12500 lbs. You need to find a flight school you like and go have a chat. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Nov 5, 2021 at 3:51
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you so much for the information! Do you have any recommendations on where to find seminars in regard to the examination subjects? You have been so kind and helpful, I cant thank you enough for it! $\endgroup$
    – jdjoya
    Nov 5, 2021 at 15:46

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