Suzanne K. Kearns

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Suzanne K. Kearns
Suzanne Robinson

1979 (age 41–42)
Wiarton, Ontario
OccupationProfessor and Author
EmployerUniversity of Waterloo

Suzanne K. Kearns is a Canadian author, academic, and professor of aviation who works at the University of Waterloo.[1] She is based in the Faculty of Environment, supporting the Geography and Aviation program.[2][3] Her research specializations are aviation safety, training methodologies, and human factors. She is best known as author of several aviation books and Series Editor of the 'Aviation Fundamentals'[4] textbook series,[5] and for her work supporting the International Next Generation of Aviation Professionals (NGAP) programme and Global Aviation Training initiatives with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).[6]


Kearns began flight training at the age of 15 in Wiarton, Ontario, Canada. She completed her fixed-wing training in Wiarton, Ontario and her rotary-wing training in Buttonville, Ontario in advance of her 17th birthday. She then completed the Helicopter Pilot Flight Program (including Commercial Rotary-Wing Pilot license) with Canadore College followed by her Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Science (including Commercial Multi-Engine IFR fixed-wing license/ratings) and Master of Science in Human Factors and Systems Engineering, both from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Kearns earned her Doctorate of Philosophy from Capella University in Education, specializing in Instructional Design for Online Learning.[7]


Kearns began working full time as a lecturer of aviation at the University of Western Ontario in 2004, at the age of 24. She progressed to a tenure-track Assistant Professor in 2008 after earning her PhD and subsequently earned academic tenure in 2014. In 2016 she accepted an invitation to move to the University of Waterloo, as an Associate Professor with Tenure.[8]

Kearns has taught the following academic courses: Introduction to Aviation, Human Factors, Aviation Safety, and Sustainability in Aviation.

Her research focuses on aviation safety and training methodologies. She is the author of a wide variety of aviation trade publications, academic journal articles, and several books.[9] Kearns frequently participates as a speaker at aviation events.[10][11][12] She is recognized as a thought-leader in the area of aviation training, specifically teaching methodologies (such as e-learning and competency-based training) and around engaging the next generation of aviation professionals.[13][14]

In 2017, Kearns (in partnership with Michael Kearns) developed an e-learning course called 'Fundamentals of the Air Transport System' (FATS). The University of Waterloo and the International Civil Aviation Organization jointly distribute the FATS course.[15] The FATS course is designed to teach young people about the aviation industry, on an international scale. It is interactive, narrated by Suzanne Kearns, and reviews a variety of aviation sectors (air law, aircraft, operations, air navigation, airports, security, the environment, accidents, and safety).[16] The course is available on the ICAO training website and is completed annually by thousands of professionals around the world.[17][18]

Books by Suzanne K Kearns
Title Year Publisher Synopsis
Canadian Aviation 2009 Kendall-Hunt A textbook that explores sectors of the aviation industry in Canada, supporting teaching activities at the University of Western Ontario.[19]
e-Learning in Aviation 2010 Ashgate/Routledge An academic book that reviews the aspects and structure of high-quality e-learning in aviation, as well as principles of instructional design for online learning.[20]
Competency-Based Education in Aviation: Exploring Alternate Training Pathways 2016 Ashgate/Routledge Kearns co-authored with Timothy J. Mavin and Steven Hodge. An academic book that explores the foundation underlying 'competence' in aviation, based on interviews with international training experts, which is the theory supporting evidence-based and competency-based training[21]
Fundamentals of International Aviation 2018 Routledge An introductory textbook that explores sectors of the international aviation industry, from air law to airports, operations to security. This textbook is designed to support young professionals seeking an aviation career. This is the book that launched the 'Aviation Fundamentals' textbook series[22]
Engaging the Next Generation of Aviation Professionals: An Edited Volume 2020 Routledge Kearns is lead editor of a book that will include chapters and case studies from more than 40 aviation academics and professionals from around the world. Thought to be the first academic work on the 'Next Generation of Aviation Professionals (NGAP)' issue[23]

Awards and Volunteer Work[edit]

Kearns is a member of the Next Generation of Aviation Professionals (NGAP) task force,[24] through which she volunteers to support the aviation industry's efforts to attract, recruit, educate, and retain the next generation. She was elected President of the University Aviation Association, 2015-2016, where she represented about 150 colleges/universities with aviation programs.[25]

In 2013 Kearns was the recipient of the Frank E Sorensen award for 'Outstanding Achievement of Excellence in Aviation Research/Scholarship'.[26] In 2017, Kearns was recognized by Wings Magazine as one of the Top 20 under 40 in Canadian Aviation[27] and in the same year she was also elected as a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society (FRAeS). In 2018 the University Aviation Association awarded Kearns the William A. Wheatley award[28] recognizing outstanding contributions to aerospace education.

In 2019, Kearns received the Elise MacGill Northern Lights award[29] (Education Category) recognizing women who make outstanding contributions to aviation and aerospace.


  1. ^ "Waterloo welcomes Dr. Suzanne Kearns | Environment". Environment. 2016-04-07. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  2. ^ "Aviation at Waterloo | Aviation". Aviation. 2012-04-17. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  3. ^ Hicks, Jeff (2018-05-03). "Suzanne Kearns has found her calling, encouraging and educating future pilots". Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  4. ^ "Aviation Fundamentals - Routledge". Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  5. ^ "Product Search - Routledge". Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  6. ^ "Meeting Reports - All Documents". Retrieved 2018-01-10.
  7. ^ "CV". Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  8. ^ "Profile in 'Aviation International'". Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  9. ^ "Suzanne K. Kearns - Google Scholar Citations". Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  10. ^ "Keynote Address for International Women's Day 2017". Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  11. ^ "Student Education & Careers in Aviation | Halldale". Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  12. ^ ICAO - The International Civil Aviation Organization (2017-11-27), #icaoNGAP - PANEL 2 - Aviation careers from the students’ perspective, retrieved 2018-01-08 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "Competency-Based Training: The future of the aviation industry?". Civil Aviation Training. 2017-06-23. Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  14. ^ "Register for the Live Webinar on Competency-Based Education". Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  15. ^ "ICAO and University of Waterloo to launch e-learning course". Civil Aviation Training. 2017-11-09. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  16. ^ ICAO - The International Civil Aviation Organization (2017-11-29), Fundamentals of the Air Transport System - Online Course, retrieved 2018-01-05 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ "Teaching the Fundamentals of Air Transport, page 4" (PDF).
  18. ^ "Training Catalogue Details". Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  19. ^ developer (2016-04-07). "Canadian Aviation". Higher Education. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  20. ^ "e-Learning in Aviation (Hardback) - Routledge". Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  21. ^ "Competency-Based Education in Aviation: Exploring Alternate Training Pathways (Hardback) - Routledge". Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  22. ^ "Fundamentals of International Aviation (Paperback) - Routledge". Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  23. ^ "Home | Upcoming Book: The Next Generation of Aviation Professionals". Upcoming Book: The N. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
  24. ^ "Next Generation of Aviation Professionals (NGAP)". Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  25. ^ "Past Presidents - University Aviation Association". Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  26. ^ "Frank E. Sorenson Award - Previous Honorees - University Aviation Association". Retrieved 2019-04-25.
  27. ^ "Aviation professor named Top 20 Under 40 | Aviation". Aviation. 2017-06-27. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  28. ^ "William A. Wheatley Award - Previous Honorees - University Aviation Association". Retrieved 2019-04-14.
  29. ^ "Northern Lights Aero Foundation – Women. Aerospace. Aviation". Retrieved 2019-07-18.