Places to Fly: Oliver, B.C.

Although winter weather is closing in on many areas, the Okanagan Valley boasts great flying weather long into the fall. Oliver is in the heart of B.C. wine country and offers plenty of opportunities for something beyond the $100 hamburger. Photo by Osoyoos Times.

Radio Issue In Air Canada Incident

Audio released of a San Francisco tower controller unsuccessfully ordering an Air Canada A320 to go around has raised concerns about the safety culture at the airline and is sure to cause investigations by the airline and regulators on both sides of the border.

Flight 781 from Montreal was ordered six times to abort a landing at SFO last Sunday but there was no acknowledgment from the crew and they landed at about 9:30 p.m. It was the second time in three months an Air Canada crew has been involved in a mishap at SFO. In Another A320 crew lined up to land on a taxiway with four aircraft lined up to take off and fortunately did hear the go around call before hitting any of them. The controller called the go-around because he was concerned another aircraft wouldn’t clear the runway in time. There was no conflict and it wasn’t until after the Airbus was on the ground that radio contact was reestablished on the same frequency.  One of the pilots reports a radio issue and the terse response from the controller is “that’s pretty evident.”

Controllers even shone a flashing red light toward the aircraft in a last-ditch effort to stop the landing but the SFO tower is at least two kilometres from the threshold of Runway 28R.

Air Canada and its pilots’ union focused on the radio problem in responses to reporters.

“After receiving proper clearance to land, it proceeded to do so and landed normally,” said airline spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick. “Upon landing, the crew was informed the tower had attempted unsuccessfully to contact the aircraft; however the message was not received by the crew. Air Canada is investigating the circumstances.”

Air Canada Pilots Association spokesman Christopher Praught said the FAA is investigating a “communications failure after being cleared for landing.”

Yukon Airports Controversy Builds

The president of Air North has written an opinion piece in the Yukon News urging governments to cut costs rather than raise fees for air travelers.

Joe Sparling was reacting to controversy over the proposed Public Airports Act, and warning against using it as a cash cow.

The Yukon government tabled the legislation last week and is getting a lot of backlash on the details. One of the main complaints is that it formulated the sweeping law with little or no consultation with stakeholders.

In a statement released last week, the ruling Liberal Party said it has no plans to increase fees but the legislation does give the government the ability to implement fees. The Liberals say the legislation is needed codify the operation of airports in the territory. There is mix of cross-jurisdictional regulations and laws governing air transportation and a single unifying set of regs has been seen as necessary.

In his Op-Ed piece, Sparling said that Canadian airports often lose sight of their primary responsibilities and spend money on art installations and other amenities.

He said keeping costs down are central to ensuring an accessible and successful industry. He said increasing fees doesn’t raise revenue because it discourages air travel and revenues can actually drop.

The legislation is currently at first reading and Sparling said he’s been personally assured that costs will not spiral because of it.

Although the legislation has been tabled with little industry consultation, the government has pledged that more will take place.

“Feedback on the draft legislation has been received and the discussion is ongoing as drafting the regulations is still to come,” the Liberal statement said, noting the bill tabled in early October is a “framework” for future legislation.

COPA has submitted comments to the Yukon government on the proposal.


Low-Level Flight Hazard

A “risky” low-level sightseeing run up a New Brunswick river ended with the deaths of two of the three men on board a Bell 206 helicopter last fall, the Transportation Safety Board has said in its report.

“Intentional low-altitude flying is risky, particularly without pre-flight planning and reconnaissance, and may result in a collision with wires or other obstacles, increasing the risk of injury or death,” the board said in a statement on the crash over the Restigouche River that killed entertainer Bob Bissonnette, pilot Frederick Decoste and injured passenger Michel Laplante.

The helicopter hit unmarked powerlines just 58 feet above the river. The lines were not required to be marked and were likely invisible to the pilot, the board said. The poles suspending the lines were hidden by trees, denying the pilot those visual cues.

The pilot had little sleep in the days prior to the crash and had traces of marijuana in his system but no determination could be made on whether he was impaired.

“Physiological factors had the potential to degrade the pilot’s decision-making and performance, although their specific effects on the pilot could not be determined,” the board said.

The board also noted the helicopter’s ELT didn’t work because the antenna broke off.


Uncontrolled Airport Procedures Explained

By JC Audet


Canada has a large number of uncontrolled aerodromes, where no control tower operates. Either the aerodrome does not have a control tower or the Control Tower operates during specified periods. For instance, the CFS might indicate that the tower is closed from 2300 until 0700 daily. The aerodrome then becomes an uncontrolled aerodrome. Depending on the density and mix of traffic at an uncontrolled aerodrome, TCCA may designate a Mandatory Frequency (MF) or an Aerodrome Traffic Frequency (ATF).

Regulations mandate that an aircraft operating within a Mandatory (MF) area shall be equipped with a functioning two-way radio and reporting procedures shall be followed as specified in CARs 602.97 to 602.103 inclusive. This clearly means that when one flies within an MF area, one shall communicate (transmit and listen) on the designated frequency as listed in the CFS. If a ground station is in operation (FSS, Unicom, RCO, etc) within the MF area, transmissions shall be addressed to the station; otherwise, the pilot will broadcast blind. For aerodromes with an MF, the specific frequency, distance and altitude within which MF procedures apply will be published in the CFS.


MF—rdo 122.2 5 NM 3100 ASL 

MF—UNICOM (AU) ltd hrs O/T tfc 122.75 5 NM 3100 ASL

Some aerodromes have a designated Aerodrome Traffic Frequency (ATF) based again on the mix and density of traffic. The ATF is established to ensure that all radio-equipped aircraft operating on the ground or within the area are listening on a common frequency and following common reporting procedures. The ATF will normally be the frequency of the UNICOM where one exists or 123.2 MHz where a UNICOM does not exist. Personnel providing UNICOM service and trained vehicle operators who possess a valid radiotelephone license and are authorized to do so, can communicate with pilots using two-way communication on the ATF and provide information such as:

(a) position of vehicles on the maneuvering area;

(b) position of other aircraft on the maneuvering area; and

(c) runway condition, if known.

The specific frequency, distance and altitude within which use of the ATF is required will be published in the CFS. Note that it is legal to operate NORDO in an ATF.


ATF – tfc 123.2 5 NM 5500 ASL 

An ATF may also be designated for areas other than an aerodrome, when VFR traffic activity is high and an ATF could enhance flight safety.

The pilot-in-command always carries the full responsibility for using proper communications and for maintaining adequate vigilance to ensure safe operations. Always carry a current CFS and ascertain the designated area (MF or ATF) applicable to your portion of flight.

Flight Training Scholarship Applications Due

By Cheryl Marek, COPA Southern Ontario Director

For the third year, the COPA 177 (Exeter, ON) and  Jeremy Mason Memorial Youth Scholarship is offering $2,400 to one deserving youth to be used toward the earning of a Recreational or Private pilot’s licence.  The goals of the Scholarship being too; promote interest in general aviation locally, increase exposure of COPA Flight 177, and to honour the memory of local Exeter pilot, Jeremy Mason and his love of flying.

Prospective youth, living within a 50NM radius from Exeter, ON, can fill out an application providing information about them including among other things; interests, goals and why they want to fly.  In addition they are asked for proof of academic achievement, personal references and a 500 word essay.  The finalists are invited to interview in front of a three person panel where one recipient will be selected.

COPA Flight 177 (Exeter) and the Jeremy Mason Memorial Fund is presently receiving applications for the 2017 COPA 177 (Exeter, ON) & Jeremy Mason Memorial Youth Scholarship.

Deadline for receipt of applications is 5:00 p.m., October 31st, 2017.

(Any applications after the deadline time will not be accepted.)

Applications and a criteria document can be printed off from the COPA Flight 177 website at or by emailing Candidates are eligible upon their 14th birthday and up to but not including, their 21st birthday, as of the date the application is due for submission.  They must be a resident of Ontario Canada, with preference given to applicants within the area local to COPA Flight 177.

The youth of Canada are the pilots and COPA members of tomorrow and that is why, COPA Flight 177 (Exeter) and the Jeremy Mason Memorial Fund is very excited to be able to help youth who strive to fly accomplish their dream.

Drone Collision Draws Reaction

Canada has the dubious distinction of recording the first verified collision between a drone and a commercial aircraft and Transport Minister Marc Garneau isn’t happy about it.

A small drone hit a Skyjet aircraft on approach to Jean Lesage Airport in Quebec City Oct. 12 and Garneau issued a statement on Oct. 15 saying drone operators had better follow the rules.

“I would like to remind the public that all drone users are required to abide by the Canadian Aviation Regulations, including the Interim Order Respecting the use of Model Aircraft. Transport Canada encourages all drone users to learn about the rules and to consult the wide variety of educational tools available on our website.”

The incident occurred as the government gets ready to finalize regulations on the use of small drones, including proximity to airports and gatherings of people.

COPA submitted comments last week on the proposed regulations and among its recommendations were exclusion zones for various types of aerodromes.

Writing rules and having drone operators follow them are two different things, however, and Garneau reminded them that penalties are stiff for violators.

“Anyone who violates the regulations could be subject to fines of up to $25,000 and/or prison,” he said. “This applies to drones of any size, used for any purpose.”

Collingwood Celebrates Turbine Win

There will be a celebration Saturday (Oct. 21) at Collingwood Regional Airport to mark the successful fight against a proposed wind turbine farm next to the airport. The party will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and is expected to draw a lot of pilots and members of the public.

“Drive in or fly in. We expect pilots from around central Ontario,” said Kevin Ellwood, a local councillor and commercial pilot who fought the proposal.

Two weeks ago wpd Canada told a local radio station that it was abandoning its Clearview turbine project after an Environmental Review Tribunal revoked its approvals based on its risk to human health.

COPA’s Freedom to Fly Fund was used to help prepare the case against the turbines based on the risk they pose to aircraft in the circuit at Collingwood and a nearby private strip in Stayner.

“It’s the first time anyone has received a revocation of an approval and the first time on the basis of human health,” the Enterprise Bulletin quoted Ellwood as reporting to Clearview council Oct. 16. “It’s important for our airport and it has national significance.

“It’s a significant ruling for the protection of aerodromes across Canada.”

The turbine company had received approval under Ontario’s Green Energy Act to put up the eight 150-metre turbines near Collingwood Airport, some directly in the flight path of aircraft in the circuit. Although there was vocal opposition to the project from the majority of people in the community and all local political bodies but the Act has broad powers to ignore those concerns. The Environmental Review Tribunal was the only avenue of appeal and took the concerns, including those voiced by COPA, to heart.

Cenotaph Honours Historic Squadron

One of the RCAF’s most storied operational squadrons has been honoured with a cenotaph in remembrance of the sacrifices made by its members over the last 75 years.

Friends, relatives and members past and present were on hand in Cobden, ON Oct. 15 for the unveiling of the memorial for 427 “Lion” Special Operations Aviation Squadron.

The squadron has a rich history of war and peacetime service and is now a “precision lift” force using Griffon twin-engine helicopters to deliver and pick up Canada’s elite special forces soldiers.

The squadron has been heavily involved in Middle East operations in support of special forces units and they’re highly regarded in that demanding specialty.

“427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron, CANSOFCOM’s “Lions”, are a critical element to our success,” said Major-General Mike Rouleau, the commander of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command.  “They are special forces through and through. I am thrilled to see this storied squadron’s history – and unwritten future accomplishments – being recognized by this momentous dedication.  I am very proud of our world-class aviators who are great RCAF ambassadors within CANSOF.”

Lt. Col. Clay Rook, the commanding officer of the squadron said the Gathering of the Lions event held in conjunction with the Cenotaph unveiling honours the rich history of the squadron and the family of aviators that regularly go into harm’s way on behalf of Canada.