The Canadian government encountered several unexpected problems in the establishment of the British Commonwealth Air Training Program (BCATP). The sudden defeat of France and the threat of a German invasion of Britain had created a critical demand for aircraft. Consequently, the British government was unable to provide the training aircraft necessary for the program. Some trainers were purchased from American factories, but the Canadian government had to produce the vast majority of training aircraft required for the BCATP. Canada, however, did not possess the facilities necessary to fulfill this role.
C.D. Howe, Minister of Transport and head of the War Supply Board, initiated an ambitious construction program that quickly built several airfields and aircraft factories. During the spring of 1940, trainees entered the BCATP, and, on 30 September 1940, the first pilots graduated from the program. Under Canadian direction, the BCATP was producing airmen six months ahead of schedule. During the war, the BCATP would train over 131,000 airmen in Canada.