President’s Corner – December 2017

Forget About Flying High When You’re High

The message was clear from Transport Canada (TC) medical authorities and regulators during a presentation at the last Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC) convention in Montreal early November. Even though marijuana will be legal in mid 2018, it will still be illegal to fly with any level of tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC, the active substance) in the blood. None, zero, not even for recreational use. If a pilot were to be randomly tested and THC was found in his system, his license could be revoked for as long as it takes for all traces to be out of his system, time yet unknown, since it will depend on so many factors like his metabolism, THC concentration of what was consumed, etc. The underlying message is if you want to keep our wings, best rely on engine power to get high.

TC Language Testing Reform

Alleluia! After so many official and unofficial complaints, frustrations, near misses, incidents, go-arounds and possibly accidents, TC is finally reviewing the way language tests will be administered for pilots. As many of us are aware, mastery of either one of Canada’s official languages is not a given to some foreign students coming into the country for training. In fact, in some cases it is nowhere close to a functional level and that is a major safety issue, making us wonder how some of these students without basic understanding of aviation phraseology can feel safe up there. Not formalized or complete yet, the plan is for TC to stop testing individuals that have a degree (High School, College, etc.) in one of our official Canadian languages, but doing more exhaustive conversational testing with all foreign applicants instead of some other objective form which may have made it too easy, even conducive to knowing the answers ahead of the test. We will follow-up with TC authorities about the details and will keep you updated. Keep an eye on our E-Flight or our magazine.

COPA Convention And Fall Fly-In Coming Every Year.

Building on the success of our Kelowna convention last June and as requests from members over the years, we are hard at work in establishing yearly east and west conventions and trade-show, so there will always be something in your part of the country, every year. A spring convention with the AGM and a Fall Fly-in for the fun of it is the formula being looked at. Our big country allows for some general aviation fun in any part of the country more than just once a year.

Freedom to Fly Fund

Please be generous and help us help you in supporting our mission and replenishing the Freedom to Fly Fund. Don’t forget that for every 100$ you get a chance to win a beautiful Breitling Colt watch.

Season’s Greetings to all and as always, send comments to





Places to Fly: Charlottetown

Charlottetown Airport is undergoing major reconstruction and the result will be one of the most capable airports in Atlantic Canada. One of the facility’s two runways has been rebuilt and extended to 7,000 feet and the other runway, which is already 7,000 feet, will be rebuilt next year. While it’s a major airport for the region, there is still plenty of room for GA with the luxury of those big wide runways.

Forced Landing Inspires Song

An off-airport landing can be a life-changing experience and his injury-free night landing in a corn field near Sarnia inspired southern Ontario pilot John Cundle to write a song about the experience.

As we reported last week, the engine in Cundle’s Cessna 150 quit while on a night flight in late October. He couldn’t make the airport and didn’t want to risk others with a highway landing so he headed for the darkest patch of ground he could see.

As luck would have it, that turned out to be a nice, flat cornfield that brought him to a quick but safe stop.

The song pays homage to both the good luck and good training that combined for the good outcome.

The airplane is repairable but the cause of the power interruption is still being investigated.

Hear the song here.


Flight Consultations Promote Collaboration

Over the past six months, COPA has embarked on a new initiative to consult with representatives of our 147 active COPA Flights across Canada. The purpose of this exercise is to connect staff in the office with our representatives in the regions and open up the conduit of information exchange within our organization.

This year, consultation sessions were held in the Lower Mainland of B.C. Saskatchewan, Southwest Ontario, Eastern Ontario/Western Quebec, and Moncton. The dialogue at these sessions produced new ideas about some of the issues with the COPA Flight program, where the organization is going as a whole, possible new priorities, and ways to refine our products and services to better deliver our mandate of advancing, promoting, and preserving the Canadian freedom to fly.

By far the biggest point of discussion at our consultations was around the need for better dialogue between COPA in Ottawa and the COPA Flight captains. Flight captains felt the need to be better supported in terms of being able to speak about COPA’s initiatives and other topics of the day. COPA committed to more, regular and relevant, communication to the flight captains with information targeted at helping the flights promote our mandate and keeping up to date on our organization’s activities. We will be launching a new, monthly newsletter for COPA Flight captains to share with their flights as well as adding new tools to the tool kit that COPA provides the flights.

Another much-discussed topic was the shortcomings of the COPA for Kids program. The current structure of the program does not lend easily to follow-up with kids after the event day, and also does not adequately encourage those kids who are of the age to leave a COPA for Kids event and begin flight training. Multiple suggestions were made about adopting a Young Eagles-style of model where pilots could fly kids at any time throughout the year. In conjunction with our marketing committee, a review is underway of the program and changes will roll out in time for the 2018 flying season. Part of the review is also looking at ways to expand the COPA for Kids program to introduce other demographics to general aviation.

The other main point of discussion concerned the rising average age of our organization’s membership and figuring out new ways not just of introducing younger people to GA, but encouraging them to take an active role in the GA community. For COPA’s part, we see the COPA flights playing a primary role in identifying and encouraging potential future candidates for the association’s board of directors. As members of the industry concerned with ensuring the freedoms we enjoy remain available and accessible to future generations, it is incumbent on all of us to take an active role not just in introducing people to general aviation, but to take leadership roles in all aspects: local, regional, and national. In your own circles, consider new ideas of how you can encourage the next group of GA pilots and their families to participate.

This year’s COPA flight consultations were a great success and we are building on that success by making this a recurring element of COPA’s annual operations. In 2018, we will be reaching out to our COPA Flights in Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, and the North to consult with them on the issues they see facing our organization and general aviation as a whole. We are excited about this new evolution within COPA and we are looking forward to empowering our COPA Flights to play a major role in furthering our mandate.


Freedom to Fly Fund Update

The Freedom to Fly Fund was created to guarantee that COPA would have the resources to take on emergency actions, legal or otherwise, in the defense of the Canadian Freedom to Fly. The fund’s most recent success was the defense of aerodromes in Collingwood and Stayner, ON, who were threatened by a proposed wind-turbine farm that would have placed towers unacceptably close to the circuit and approach paths at those airports. Through the Fund, we mounted a successful legal opposition and its proponents abandoned the project.

The Fund is also currently being used to defend the proponents of the Mascouche Airport in Quebec. The owners of the airport entered into an agreement with the municipality to relocate the airport in exchange for up to $3 million in financial support to assist with the relocation. The municipality since reneged on the agreement and is currently attempting to block the construction of the airport in the new location citing Quebec’s provincial environmental laws. Last month, COPA announced its support of the airport’s defence through the Freedom to Fly Fund and we are hopeful of a positive outcome on this case.

A second project underway revolves around the need for a new general aviation airport in the Greater Toronto Area, with a focus on the Pickering lands. Through the Fund, COPA has put forth recommendations to the federal government that the region requires a replacement for the soon-closing Buttonville Airport. The project is currently being reviewed.

Since its creation, COPA’s Freedom to Fly Fund has enabled some other significant successes in defending general aviation in Canada. The two biggest successes were in the Supreme Court of Canada where COPA argued the federal supremacy to regulate aviation could not be infringed on by provincial and municipal laws. The court upheld COPA’s position in what is commonly known as the Quebec vs. COPA decision and the Lacombe decision.

The association has also succeeded, thanks to the resources available through the Fund, in getting Transport Canada to revise proposed regulations that would have severely hindered aerodrome construction in Canada. Changes to the CARs in January of 2017 require proponents to undergo a consultation process with surrounding stakeholders before proceeding, subject to certain conditions. COPA has been working collaboratively with Transport Canada on a new Advisory Circular which will provide clear direction on the requirements for consultation.

The Freedom to Fly Fund has as a goal to maintain a ready, $1 million reserve to allow COPA the means to wage these battles in defense of our members and our Freedom to Fly. This Fund is made available through the generous donations of COPA members and supporters, to ensure that we continue to enjoy our freedoms, such as the right to have an airstrip on your property. For more information on the fund, including how to contribute, please contact our office.

Facette Replaces Toering at CBAA

The Canadian Business Aviation Association announced Thursday (Nov. 9) that Jim Facette has been chosen to succeed Rudy Toering as president and CEO of the organization.

Facette was president of the Canadian Airports Council and his CBAA appointment takes effect Dec. 1.

“CBAA made tremendous progress during Rudy Toering’s tenure; its influence in Ottawa is growing,” said CBAA Board Chair Rod Barnard “Going forward, we wanted to find an individual who had skills and experience to build on what we have accomplished. The selection committee reviewed some excellent candidates; we were unanimous in our view that Jim has the experience, qualifications and abilities to take CBAA to the next level.”

Facette spent six years heading up the airports organization and developed top-level contacts in government and industry during his tenure.

“Rudy Toering did a tremendous job to enhance the value of CBAA and raised our profile” said Mr. Barnard. “Currently, we are working on a number of critical files relating to regulations and taxation, with more coming. Our members are counting on us for results and we are confident that Jim can help us deliver solutions and grow the association.

Aviation Introductory Course Online

Waterloo University is joining forces with the International Civil Aviation Organization to offer the educational equivalent of the discovery flight.

Fundamentals of the Air Transport System (FATS) will be an online course that allows those with no background in aviation to learn about how it works and perhaps see opportunities for themselves in the industry.

The course does not require direct interaction between student and instructor so anyone, anywhere can take the classes on their own schedule.

The course consists of nine modules and it requires active participation by the student. Lectures, demonstrations and graphic representations cover the course material and while the course is free, the final exam and course certificate will cost $100.

The goal is to engage a new generation of candidates for the expanding air transportation industry, which is facing labour shortages across the board.

“With such need for the next generation of aviation professionals, this industry offers a variety of exciting career opportunities.  However, young people may be intimidated by the cost of training or just not know about the many diverse careers that exist in the industry,” said Waterloo Prof. Suzanne Kearns, who designed the course.

The ICAO joined because of the worldwide application of the course material and its accessibility.

“This new partnership represents an important first step toward addressing the shortage of highly-skilled personnel facing the aviation industry,” said Fang Liu, secretary-general of ICAO. “Providing greater access to affordable quality training is key to attracting, educating and retaining the next generation of aviation professionals.”

The course is expected to be ready for students by the end of the year.

Substance Testing Not On Radar

Canada’s Transport Minister is showing no signs of mandating random drug and alcohol testing for aviation workers even though the industry itself is asking for regulations.

In response to a question posed during a Skype appearance at the Air Transport Association of Canada meeting in Montreal this week, Marc Garneau cited the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in sidestepping a call for regulatory guidance in the prevention of substance abuse-related accidents.

The call came after the release of a Transportation Safety Board report last week that highlighted substance abuse as a potential contributing factor in the crash of a Carson Air cargo aircraft in early 2015.

The pilot of that aircraft was severely drunk (.24 blood alcohol count) when he took off just after 7 a.m. on a flight that ended six minutes later with an abrupt dive that resulted in an in-flight breakup of the Metroliner. The TSB listed suicide as another potential factor in the crash but in the absence of a cockpit voice or flight data recorder said it couldn’t definitively pinpoint a cause. There were no distress calls from the aircraft.

The crash killed the captain, Robert Brandt, 34 and his first officer Kevin Wang. An autopsy revealed the high level of alcohol and also found evidence of long-term alcohol abuse in the young captain. Wang was free of intoxicating substances.

Although there were suspicions about Brandt’s apparent addiction, no action had been taken beyond keeping an eye on him and the question posed to the minister indicates industry leaders want regulatory support to help them keep their flights safe.

The TSB has also called for government regulations. “What is needed is a comprehensive substance abuse program that would include mandatory testing as well as complementary initiatives such as education, employee assistance, rehabilitation and peer support,” said TSB Chair Kathy Fox.“We realize that employees within Canada’s aviation industry will have concerns under any possible testing regime. This is why we recommend that the substance abuse program consider and balance the need to incorporate human rights principles enshrined in the Canadian Human Rights Act with the responsibility to protect public safety.”

Places to Fly: Quesnel, B.C.

As we move into winter, we’re going to look around the country for good flying weather and if this week is any indication, it might be tough. Quesnel Airport in central B.C. will have some sun over the next week but bring your woolies: it’s thanks to the first Arctic outbreak of the season.

Cornfield Landing Near Windsor

A Windsor pilot said his training kicked in and he and his airplane came out of an off-airport landing essentially unscathed.

John Cundle was on a night flight last week when the engine on his Cessna 152 quit. He called a mayday and the controller recommended Sarnia Airport but he didn’t have the gliding distance to make it.

He told the CBC he briefly considered a highway landing but rejected it because he didn’t want to imperil anyone else.

He headed for the darkest area he could see on the ground and got lucky. It was a nice, flat corn field.

The corn stopped him in 38 metres and the aircraft remained upright and intact.

The owner of the field had to harvest the corn to allow access to the aircraft but that left it exposed on the bare field. He spent last Monday night camping out with the plane to prevent vandalism.