I have been flying for Canada Jet Charters for just over one year, as a First Officer on the Learjet 35 and Cessna 550 aircraft. I began flying commercially in 1997 with 260 hours as a Navajo co-pilot. Since then, I have flown the MU2 and SW4 Metroliner aircraft, and presently have 3600 hours.
Canada Jet does both medevac and charter flying, operating a fleet of one Cessna Citation C550, two LR35’s and one LR55. The C550 is dedicated to a BC government medevac contract, with one LR35 equipped as a medevac to back up the C550 during maintenance periods. The other two Lears are equipped for executive charter work.
Being dual-rated, I am rotated between the two operations, which have quite different schedules. As a medevac pilot, you work a 12-hour shift, on call at the airport from 0630-1830, or on the night shift 1830-0630. Generally, pilots work four days on, four days off. The flying can be quite challenging, operating into remote fields at any hour of the day (or night!).
The charter side has pilots on various levels of on call, wearing a pager. Usually there is some notice of trips, but the nature of charter work means of course that extended days away on very short notice are always a possibility. Much of the flying is to the US, and because Vancouver is known as “Hollywood North”, you never know who might be on board...
Pay. First Officers start at $26k, increased to $30k and capped at $36k after six months and one year, respectively. New captains start at $46k with incremental increases to a max of $60k. Flying time per month is fairly low, averaging about 30 hours.
I have really enjoyed the transition to turbojet aircraft, and the Lear in particular has a well-deserved reputation for incredible performance. The maintenance is superb, and I have found my colleagues to be extremely experienced and professional. While corporate flying has its benefits, Canada Jet has proven to be an excellent stepping stone for those with airline aspirations.
Good luck to those getting started in aviation, and I hope this has given a bit of insight into this particular niche of the industry!
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