NAVAID Modernization Feedback Needed

Nav Canada recently released their aeronautical study pertaining to the planned NAVAID Modernization Project. The aeronautical study is available to all for review on the COPA website ( This project proposes to decommission most non-directional beacons (NDB) and very high frequency (VHF) omni-directional ranges (VOR) across the country in favour of a satellite-based navigation system. This proposed system has been under discussion for some time and COPA has held numerous meetings and discussions, both with TCCA and with Nav Canada, on the subject. In the process, Nav Canada has maintained that they have led an extensive consultation with all stakeholders across the country, a claim that COPA does not support based on the information we have gathered. Nonetheless, the study presents a compendium of the feedback Nav Canada received from some customers. Note that the Study does reflect some of the concerns that COPA voiced to Nav Canada, and includes the results of their consultation process, as well as their responses and mitigations.

We would greatly appreciate your reviewing this document, including your aviator colleagues, and giving us your feedback on the impact of this project on small GA aircraft operations, as you perceive it. We recognize that this is a complex document and we are happy to offer some guidance with respect to it.

Main Content of the Aeronautical Study

  1. Section 3 – Consultation: the comments from various industry stakeholders and Nav Canada’s reply and mitigation to these issues. Note that most of the issues in this section are more relevant to commercial operators, but several are relevant to small GA aircraft, particularly in IFR operations;
  2. Section 3 – Risk Analysis: note that this paragraph does not identify any risk or hazard. We recommend that you review appendices A and D as referred to in that paragraph;
  3. Section 3 – Mitigation: we recommend that you review the relevant appendices referred to in this paragraph;
  4. The various other appendices of the study identify the NAVAIDS that will be decommissioned and the proposed mitigation to be implemented, indexed per FIRs; 
  5. The operational characteristics of this GNSS-based ANS will not provide complete radar coverage below 10,000 feet. 
  6. The possibility of a prolonged GNSS outage is briefly discussed in different paragraphs, including the proposed mitigations.
  7. In the event of a prolonged GNSS outage, small GA aircraft below 10,000 feet will be forced to navigate by dead reckoning. When in IMC, the pilot will have to climb to 10,000 feet for proper coverage, or dead-reckon to a recovery site, which could become a serious issue in either case.

COPA’s Preliminary Position

Considering the logistics and financial aspects of maintaining and/or replacing Canada’s aging ground-based Air Navigation System, we understand Nav Canada’s vision in making the best use of available resources, including maximizing the use of satellite-based navigation.

Consequently, COPA believes that the Nav Canada vision of moving to a GNSS-based ANS system is sensible, practical and efficient. This position is further supported by the fact that an increasing number of small GA aircraft are equipped with certified GNSS navigators, and this tendency keeps growing. 

COPA also perceives a very serious issue: that of potential a prolonged GNSS outage. In this situation, any small GA aircraft flying in IMC below 10,000 feet, which is the case of all small aircraft, will face an issue of significant importance.

Review and Feedback

We request that you review this Aeronautical Study, including as many fellow aviators in your area. We suggest that your review should focus on the following points:

  • Review, discuss, and understand the Executive Summary and the Background information on pages two and three of the document;
  • Review, discuss, and understand the aspects of Section 3 listed in item 1 (more specifically pages eight and nine of the document), as well as items 2 and 3 in the Main Content paragraph above;
  • Analyze item 4 for its impact in your area;
  • Determine how many of your fellow aviators actually fly IFR in IMC, and the impact items 5, 6 and 7 will have on their ability to continue to operate IFR in IMC during GNSS outages.

We would appreciate receiving feedback sent to this office ( by May 31, 2018 to enable some discussion at the COPA Convention on June 21-23, 2018. Your feedback and our discussions will contribute to finalizing our COPA position for submission to Nav Canada and TCCA.

ADS-B : What Does It Do For You?


Several years ago, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recognized that the US air transportation system and the tools it uses needed a significant review and upgrade in order to keep pace with the growing air traffic density and the demands of the industry and the public in general. This realization lead to what we know now as NextGen. According to the FAA website, NextGen is the modernization of the US air transportation system. Its overall goal is to increase the safety, capacity, predictability, and resiliency of American aviation. This overhaul brings together dozens of innovative technologies, capabilities, and procedures that will improve how the US public flies from departure to arrival. While the deployment of NextGen is still in its early years relatively speaking, the program has already achieved tremendous improvements across the US. This link presents a short video on the initiative and some of its achievements to date:  

The FAA recognized very early on that ADS-B is one of these innovative technologies and it constitutes a critical cornerstone of NextGen.  The FAA also recognized that as much as Automatic Dependant Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) is necessary to the success of NextGen, ADS-B would not, on its own, greatly increase or decrease the overall safety of their air transportation system. The U.S. have ground-based ADS-B systems across the country. No such thing is planned in Canada.


ADS-B Out offers some very significant benefits to the users it was originally intended for and it is rapidly expanding around the world. The USA have mandated ADS-B to be effective in 2020 in its airspace. Canada does not yet have an ADS-B mandate and Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) does not consider mandating the deployment of this technology, as far as COPA understands at the time of this writing. Conversely, Nav Canada has made significant progress in planning the deployment of this technology in Canadian airspace. It serves Nav Canada both from a financial aspect on radar reduction and elimination in some parts of the country, to being able to provide better service to those with the (still expensive) equipment. 

Read more about ADS-B and its features and capabilities: the typical ADS-B Out as mandated in several countries, ADS-B In, the US AS-B implementation, NavCanada’s proposed ADS-B implementation, benefits and costs to GA owners, and more here. We welcome your comments at 

Participate in Aviation Research

The Advanced Cognitive Engineering (ACE) Laboratory at Carleton University is looking for participants for their latest General Aviation Study.  For over a decade, researchers at the ACE Lab have been studying aspects of risk reduction for general aviation pilots, using flight simulation.  The current study is an exciting expansion of this work, as it will look at the impact of using electronic navigational aids in VFR flight. The experienced technical team at the ACE Lab has developed a method for flying with “GPS” while in a simulator. This technology will permit participants to “fly” with many features of a navigational app.

In line with the ACE Lab’s focus on cognition, such as memory, situational awareness, task management etc., participants will have the opportunity to try two cognitive health tests designed for aviators.  Previous participants have remarked on the value of reflecting on their situational awareness and memory in novel scenarios.  This study should offer some challenging situations as pilots are asked to fly a custom search & rescue training exercise in a realistic full-scale Cessna 172 simulator (see image).

This study also introduces the latest technology in “real-time” detection of pilot mental workload.  Participants will wear a lightweight wireless EEG headset and a wristband with sensors that are designed to pick up on signs of increasing levels of workload.  If you enjoy learning about modern technology for aviators and have a passion for safety in general aviation, then you may be the ideal participant for this study.  To be eligible, pilots must have a current pilot’s license/permit (aeroplane) and medical certification, be 18 years or older, and have flown at least once in the past 24 months (as pilot-in-command).  Researchers tell COPA they hope that female pilots will also be encouraged to register for the study.  Let’s make sure that aviation science reflects all pilots!

By participating in this study, you will help researchers develop tools to keep pilots flying for as long as safely possible.  As Carleton University in located in Ottawa, most past participants at this point came from Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec.  However, to broaden the research base, plans include eventually taking the equipment “on the road” across Canada.

COPA strongly supports this initiative and does not perceive it as a threat to the aging pilot but much rather as a potential major contributor to enabling pilots to fly longer in enhanced safety. COPA personnel who meet the requirements are participating in the study.

The ACE Lab studies in general aviation are directed by Dr. Chris Herdman and Dr. Kathleen Van Benthem.  More information about the research of the ACE Lab at Carleton University can be found at and in these videos,  (produced by the Search and Rescue New Initiative Fund (SAR NIF)).  COPA invites the reader to visit these two links: highly interesting and impressive. The ACE Lab general aviation studies are not financially or otherwise supported by any regulatory agency or aviation enterprise.

AGM Documents

The Annual General Meeting of the members of the Canadian Owners & Pilots Association will be held at the Saint John Trade & Convention Center connected to the Hilton Saint John (1 Market Square, Saint John, NB), on the 23rd day of June, 2018, at 10:00AM (AT).

During the AGM, members are to receive the financial statements of the Association, Freedom to Fly Fund (Special Action Fund) and Flight Safety Foundation for the period ended December 31, 2017. Please see documents below.