COPA’s lead in team effort: U.S. Territory Overflight Issue Resolution
On December 11 and 14 this past year and at the request of the American Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued three high-impact NOTAMs. Yes, high-impact for Canadian aviators, in the sense that they essentially prevented Canadian general aviation and business aircraft from overflying any part of U.S. airspace to reach another Canadian destination, without having special TSA-issued security waiver for everyone in the aircraft. That meant for example, no more direct flights from Montreal to Moncton or Halifax, Vancouver to Victoria and making it almost impossible to do circuits at Abbotsford and other close border airports like it. The issue made these flights a lot more expensive, longer and in some cases, downright impossible.
We were not aware of these NOTAMs until being alerted by one of our members on New Year’s Eve. COPA immediately took action and we contacted our International Aircraft and Owners Pilots Association (IAOPA) and AOPA partners about this. Needless to say they were just as surprised as we were. What came back was that this was a mistake, that someone had taken broader strokes than intended. But how do you fix a “mistake” within some of the biggest bureaucracies around (TSA, FAA), with who we have no direct contact nor influence?
With our friends at IAOPA we managed to get the ball rolling and quickly got a draft amendment of the NOTAMS within a day or two. The subsequent 15 days meant constant discussions between us and IAOPA, AOPA, Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA), Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC), Transport Canada and even the TSA. During the final call with TSA (January 15), COPA received the assurance that they and FAA would follow the established protocol with TC and other impacted groups for changes such as those. The amended NOTAMS were issued late that Friday evening.
The collaborative effort I witnessed on both sides of the border made me proud of the way we handled the situation as a bigger team, and I think we can put this in the victory list for COPA.
Every once in a while, we have to look at ourselves and see if we are still doing the right thing, if we are on track with our set goals. Or do we even have the same goals? A new President usually means a few changes and yes, there are some coming at COPA. We are working on reviewing some of our strategic initiatives, our priorities and what you want out of your association. A heads-up that some of you may be contacted to answer a survey and I thank you in advance for the time you will take to do so.
In this issue you will find all the members that are running for a position on the board of directors. These representatives are the voice for your region, they are your channel to the way COPA delivers its services.
At the same time, you will notice some of the directors are not running again. I wish to thank them for all of their work and really, their devotion to COPA. I met these directors during my recruitment process and have grown fond of them, of their wisdom and their knowledge. They have left a profound mark at COPA and their implication will be missed. In alphabetical order, Trekker Armstrong (AB), Earl Kickley (SK) and Jerry Roehr (MB). Gentlemen, thank you.
Now dear members, what more can I say than: to your computers and vote!