3 Canadian Forces Flying Training School
3 Canadian Forces Flying Training School (3 CFFTS; French: 3e École de pilotage des Forces canadiennes) is located at the Southport Aerospace Centre just south of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada.
3 CFFTS conducts Primary Flight Training on the Grob G 120A. Helicopter training is done on the Bell CH-139 Jet Ranger and the Bell 412 helicopter (retired Bell CH-146 Griffons). Multi-engine training is conducted on the Beechcraft King Air C-90B.
The school is based at the Portage la Prairie Southport Airport (formerly Canadian Forces Base Portage la Prairie). The service companies of KF Defence Programs and Southport Aerospace Centre provide all support services for 3 CFFTS, including aircraft maintenance and airfield operations.
3 CFFTS uses civilian pilots to teach primary pilot training and the air navigator courses. Military pilots are employed to teach the helicopter and multi-engine aircraft courses.
Portage la Prairie has been the site of military primary flight training since World War II, when it was home to No. 14 Elementary Flying Training School, part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Following the war the base was retained as the home of the 3 Flying Training School (3 FTS) Royal Canadian Air Force, the direct ancestor of 3 CFFTS.
3 CFFTS was first formed on 1 July 1970 at CFB Portage la Prairie. It was made up of personnel and equipment drawn from 1 Primary Flying School, CFB Borden who flew the de Havilland Canada CT-120 Chipmunk trainers, 4 Flying Training School, CFB Rivers who flew Hiller CH-112 Nomad helicopters and 3 Flying Training School, Portage la Prairie who flew the Beech CT-128 Expeditor multi-engine trainer.
During the 1970s the school created two air demonstration teams, staffed by instructors, the Dragonflies, flying the CH-136 Kiowa and the Musket Gold with CT-134 Musketeer.
During 1981 the CT-134 Musketeers were in need of replacement and a newer version, the Beechcraft C23 Sundowners was procured as the CT-134A Musketeer. At the same time the CH-136 Kiowas were returned to the tactical helicopter squadrons that they had come from and were replaced by new-purchase CH-139 Jet Rangers.
During 1992 CFB Portage la Prairie was closed and the base facilities turned over to a new civil organization, the Southport Aerospace Centre. All previous support functions, including the provision of aircraft and their maintenance and the running of the airport, was contacted out to civilian companies.
This new Contracted Flight Training and Support Program resulted in the Musketeers being replaced with Slingsby T-67C Firefly trainers. The military instructors who had taught the Primary Flying Course were replaced by contract civilian instructors.
In 2005 a $1.77 billion, 20-year Contracted Flying Training and Support Contract was awarded to Allied Wings, now called KF Defence Programs to continue the program to 2025. This resulted in the following equipment changes:
- Slingsby T-67C Fireflies replaced with Grob G-120As
- C-90A King Airs replaced with Raytheon C-90B King Airs.
- CH-139 Jet Rangers refurbished
- Nine former CH-146 Griffons added to the 3 CFFTS fleet for advanced helicopter training.
- 1 Canadian Forces Flying Training School
- 2 Canadian Forces Flying Training School
- Royal Canadian Air Force helicopters
- List of aircraft of the Royal Canadian Air Force