Deduct flight training on your taxes

Aug 6, 2009

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) offers a tax credit for costs incurred by a student during flight training through its TL11B – Tuition, Education, and Textbook Amounts Certificate – Flying School or Club form. Let’s take a look at some of the eligibility criteria!

Flying equals money

The tuition fees you claim must be more than $100. Pretty straightforward there. Tacked on to that point though is the claiming of private licence instruction time. PPL training time can only be claimed at the same time as commercial training time. So you’ll have to hold on to this form for a bit longer, at least until you have some commercial flight time under your belt. Keep in mind though that you won’t be able to carry over the full amount (don’t ask me why, I don’t know. I’m just interpreting this document.) According to Part 3 of the form, you must “Complete Schedule 11, Tuition, Education, and Textbook Amounts, to calculate […] the amount, if any, you can carry forward to a future year.”

The program you are claiming full-time credit for must be at least 3 consecutive weeks long and require a minimum of 10 hours of course instruction per week. For the part-time education amount, the program must last at least 3 weeks and requires a minimum of 12 hours of course instruction each month.

Finally, the tuition fees you claim must include “include the cost of dual and solo flying hours […] up to the minimum flight training requirements of Transport Canada.” So you can only claim about 45 hours in total.

In addition to knowing how much money you spent and how many hours you’ve flown, you also need the following to submit the form:

  • the name of the FTU
  • the FTU’s address
  • your signature and social insurance number

I hope I’ve shed some light on how to deduct your flight training costs from your taxes. If you’ve got any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll answer them to the best of my ability.

The TL11B is available in PDF format from the CRA site.

Getting a Canadian pilot licence [Part 6: Extra Endorsements]

Jan 27, 2009

_This is a guest post written by my good friend PC (Papa Charlie in the NATO phonetic vocabulary). He is currently finishing the Seneca College Flight Program Degree.
Make sure to read the previous posts in the series to get the whole picture about what it takes to get a Canadian Pilot’s Licence:

_

    • *With a private pilot licence in hand, you can add ratings or endorsements to it, expanding the number of aircraft you can fly and the time of day and weather conditions in which you can operate those aircraft. I will tell you about some optional ratings you can get to expand your flying skills. The ratings I’ll mainly discuss are:

    • Night
    • VFR Over The Top (VFR OTT)
    • Instrument

Aeroplane Class/Type Ratings

Since takeoff, landing and aircraft handling on water is quite different to that on land, it has its own class rating. For a seaplane rating you need 7 hours of seaplane training, including: 5 hrs dual instruction and a minimum of 5 takeoffs and landings as sole occupant (or PIC for 2-crew planes). You also need to focus on specific exercises like taxiing, sailing, docking, takeoffs, landings, operation on glassy & rough water as well as during crosswind conditions. After you have these requirements, you need to take a flight test. If you got your PPL on a seaplane, you will need the following to get a landplane rating: 3 hrs landplane training, including 2 hrs dual instruction and a minimum of 5 takeoffs and landings while solo. You also need to have made sure to include taxiing, takeoffs and landings (also with crosswinds) during your training.

Single-engined aircraft generally are slow and simple to operate. Why not make things interesting by adding one or more engines. You can then get to places faster and maybe even fly further! Multi-engined aeroplanes are more complex to operate. One huge difference though, is that with two or more engines there is the possibility that you can have assymetric thrust if one fails. It is vital to be able to handle the aircraft under this assymetric thrust condition. For a multi-engine rating you need 10 hrs dual instruction and need to pass a flight test.

An example of a multi-engined centre line thrust airplane is the Cessna 336337 seen below. The two engines are positioned to the front and back of the cockpit and while one pulls the other pushes. ~Danny

Night Rating

Being restricted to day flying can be inconvenient when flying close to sunrise or sunset. Night flying is rewarding in that you can potentially fly 247 and see the skylines of cities at night. In order to get a night rating on your licence, you need 10 hrs night flight time, including: 5 hrs dual (2 hrs of which should be dual cross-country time) and 5 hrs solo flight time (including at least 10 takeoffs, circuits and landings). In addition, you need 10 hrs dual instrument time (5 hrs of which can be instrument ground time – or in a simulator).

VFR Over The Top Rating

The weather beneath clouds can be horrible, but depending on the cloud layers it is usually bright and sunny above them. This can be inconvenient to a flight if a shallow layer of cloud lies over your track. To get around flying under the ceiling, you can exercise the privileges of a VFR OTT rating. VFR OTT ratings allow you to fly over cloud layers that may otherwise hinder a VFR pilot. Note that there are specific conditions that must occur at your destination airport and elsewhere to exercise this privilege. To get this rating, you must complete 15 hrs dual instrument time (5 hrs of which can be ground instrument time). The privileges of this rating can automatically be exercised by a holder of a Commercial Pilot Licence.

Instrument Rating

Most days, the weather can be considered good enough for VFR flight. In some cases though, it is not. To fly on these ‘bad weather days’, you need to fly in accordance with instrument flight rules and need an instrument rating. This rating is issued in four groups.

  • Group 1 – for all aircraft (flight test conducted in multi-engined aeroplane)
  • Group 2 – for multi-engined centre line thrust and single-engined aeroplanes (flight test conducted in MCLT aeroplane)
  • Group 3 – for single-engined aeroplanes (flight test conducted in single-engined aeroplane)
  • Group 4 – for helicopters (flight test conducted in helicopter)

To get one of these ratings, you need to pass the INRAT exam (70% or more). You also need a minimum of: 50 hrs of cross-country PIC flight time and 40 hrs instrument time of which 20 hrs can be instrument ground time. Most notably, the 40 instrument hrs should include a dual cross-country flight under simulated or actual IMC at least 100 nm long (including an instrument approach to minima at two different locations). You will also have to pass a flight test. Note that this rating has a period of validity and has to be renewed every two years.

I hope this has been helpful and I wish you the best of luck in your passion for flying. For the legal regulations, standards and wording regarding crew licences and ratings, visit CARs part 4. Papa Charlie out.

Getting a Canadian pilot licence [Part 5: The Flying]

Jan 24, 2009

This is another installment in my guide to Getting a Canadian pilot’s licence series. Make sure to read the previous posts to get the whole picture:

You’re finally at the good stuff: the flying! Here’s a picture of me taking off on my first solo back in September 2008.

Me, taking off on my first solo

Me, taking off on my first solo

After a few lessons this will be you!

The Lessons

Each flight lesson will consist of a ground briefing (also called a pre-flight ground instruction aka PGI or a pre-flight briefing aka PFB), the actual inflight practice and a debrief. Depending on your lesson the PFB and the debrief may be skipped. All lessons are based on the flight training manual (TP1002) which is a Transport Canada publication used by all schools in Canada. It lists all the exercises you are expected to be able to perform on a flight test. The first few lessons will concentrate on a single exercise however, as you progress, you will be expected to perform all the previous exercises. If you think about it, it makes sense: the first exercise is straight and level flight then climbs and descents and then turns and so on.

Flight 0

Assuming you have not already done so, your first flight will be a familiarization flight. This is a half hour flight giving you the chance to see what it’s like to be in a plane and decide if you really want to do this. Some people figure out that it’s not for them and stop their training there. Of course if you think this could happen to you (as in if you have even the slightest doubt about being in a small civil aircraft) I would recommend you do this before you begin ground school.

During the familiarization flight you will get the chance to control the aircraft and get used to the view from up there.

Naticoke Power plant from 3000 feet ASL

Nanticoke Power plant from 3000 feet ASL

During my flight I was allowed to control the aircraft from start-up to short final. It was an amazing experience and it sealed my conviction that I want a pilot’s licence.

Important Flights

First Solo

Taxiing back after my first solo

Taxiing back after my first solo

Your first solo is a flight you will remember for the rest of your life. The flight itself will consist of taxiing to the runway, taking off, doing one circuit then landing and taxiing back to the apron. Sounds simple enough but there is a lot training that must be covered before hand.

To be cleared for a solo, you need to be able to take off and land safely. You also need to safely recover from a possible engine failure in the circuit. Your instructor will go through the procedures, demonstrate it a few times then have you perform it. Once your instructor is satisfied you can safely recover, you’re good to go.

You can read about my first solo to get an idea of what happens during one.

First Solo to the Practice Area
Following your first solo, you will spend some time (usually about 5 hours) practicing circuits on your own. In my case, I had the chance to practice quite a few ballooning and bouncing recoveries. Your instructor will then rejoin you in the plane and you will practice forced approaches which are the en-route equivalent of engine failures in a circuit. Basically your instructor will cut the throttle on you and you have to simulate the emergency situation and procedures. I’ll dedicate a later post to forced approaches, but suffice it to say that while there are a lot of steps to be followed, you’ll get the hang of them by the third or fourth one. The same deal applies to going solo to the practice area: once your instructor is satisfied that you know what you are doing and can do it safely, you’ll be released to go.

When I went I decided to practice pilotage (ground to map) for navigation. I had had trouble finding significant features from the ground on the map so I took this opportunity to practice that.

Cross-Countries
A cross-country is a flight more than 25 NM in length with multiple stopovers. Each school has its own approved routes which you will have to take. They usually include one or two controlled airports and at least one uncontrolled airport. At Peninsulair, my former school, the “short” cross country was from Hamilton (CYHM), to Waterloo (CYKF), to London (CYXU), to St. Thomas (CYQS) and back to Hamilton.

My short cross country route

My short cross country route

The cross country gives you a chance to practice all the skills you have learned so far: climbs and descents, turns, straight and level flight, takeoffs, landings and those pesky radio calls. The first time you go you’ll be joined by your instructor who will ensure you do all those things right and are aware of emergency procedures.

Solo Cross-Country
Your first solo cross-country will be along the same route as your dual one. The second one will be along a different route so you have to get it right the first time, no security blanket. During all your cross countries you will be expected to demonstrate the skills you have been taught. I would take this time to also get acquainted to the radio navigation aids you have available to you.

A road makes a great landmark to follow

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  A road makes a great landmark to follow
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