Transport Canada: Wildlife Strike Reporting

Transport Canada (TC) has issued an Advisory Circular (AC) that brings the aviation community’s attention to the requirements for the formal reporting of wildlife strikes. The AC, issued this week, does not change any existing rules or regulations, but is meant to provide guidance to those who do have a regulatory responsibility to report wildlife strikes, such as certified airport operators.

TC began collecting wildlife strike data in the mid-1980s. When the National Airports Policy was implemented in 1994 and TC began to divest itself of the operation of airports nation-wide, data collection ceased. However, in 2006 TC again collecting wildlife strike data. Initial results showed that wildlife strikes had surged by 45 percent over the previous decades. Data indicates that wildlife strike incidents continue to increase

TC has identified this matter as an important safety issue, and encourages non-certified airport operators, pilots, air traffic controllers and those witnessing wildlife strike incidents to contribute to the reporting.


RCAF: We Need Pilots

We’ve all heard of the current pilot shortage plaguing the aviation industry. The shortage has now reached a point in the RCAF that they are broadcasting their needs to the public. In addition to the current shortage of around 275 pilots, the Air Force needs more aircraft mechanics and other maintenance personnel.

The RCAF’s Director of Air Readiness, BGen Eric Kenny, was quoted by the National Post as saying, “Right now, we’re doing everything we can to make sure we recruit, train and retain enough personnel to do our current mission.”

The RCAF currently deploys aircraft abroad in Mali, Latvia, Ukraine, Romania and Iraq, missions which are in addition to their domestic responsibilities for continental defence and search and rescue. The RCAF is authorized to have 1580 pilots, meaning the shortage represents 17 percent of authorized strength. The shortage also extends to navigators and sensor technicians that form part of the crew on certain aircraft.

Aircraft are not grounded yet due to the shortage as existing service members are picking up the slack. Various initiatives have been undertaken by the Forces to resolve the situation, such as offering tax breaks, intensive recruitment drives and even recruiting older military pilots back into the Air Force. There is even talk of extending commitment times after graduating from flight training.

The RCAF’s current training program is capable of producing only 115 new pilots per year, but some senior officers say that’s not enough to keep up with those retiring from the Forces to pursue commercial opportunities.

“We know what capabilities we’re receiving and now we can start working to make sure that we have personnel that are trained to be able to meet those requirements,” Kenny said. “But I’m not going to lie: It’s definitely a challenge.”

Are Our ELTs Failing Us?

Over the last year or so a number of aircraft have gone missing in the mountains of British Columbia and, in most cases, an ELT signal had not been received. In June of 2017, a rented Piper Warrior with two people on board left Lethbridge airport (YQL) bound for Kamloops airport (YKA) in south-central B.C., but never arrived. They were last seen at Cranbrook airport (YXC), where they made a refueling stop. Their plane was equipped with an ELT, but no signal was ever received.

Last week’s eFlight reported that the wreckage of a Mooney M20 that had gone missing last November had been discovered near Rogers Pass earlier this month. It too was equipped with an ELT, but a signal was never received.

And just last week, an RV6 with a couple from Chilliwack went missing on a flight from the Edmonton area to Chilliwack (YCK). An extensive search has just been called off with no results. No ELT signal has been reported, but it is unclear at this time whether the aircraft was equipped with one.

In a high-profile crash two years ago that involved an ELT-equipped Cessna Citation carrying, among others, former Alberta premier Jim Prentice, the ELT did not activate, although the wreckage’s proximity to Kelowna airport made it easy to find.

In an article that appears in this month’s COPA Flight, contributor Phil Lightstone writes that, according to a recent study by the Department of National Defence, ELTs activated in only 38 percent of Canadian aircraft accidents, raising questions as to the effectiveness of these mandatory devices.

Is spaced-based ADS-B a potential solution? COPA’s position has long been that any ADS-B mandate must include a replacement for these antiquated ELTs.

For more discussion on this topic, read Eye In The Sky in this month’s COPA Flight, and keep an eye on the upcoming eFlights; the file is advancing quickly.

Places To Fly-East: Gatineau, Que.

This coming Saturday (Sept. 15), Aero Gatineau-Ottawa takes place at the Gatineau airport (YND). The Snowbirds will be performing, as will an RCAF demonstration CF-18 painted in colours commemorating NORAD’s 60th anniversary.

Vintage aircraft will conduct fly-bys and be available for viewing on the ground later. Other vintage warbirds from the Great War Flying Museum’s collection and the Michael Potter Collection, including a Spitfire Mk IX, will also be on static display. The RCAF will be performing SAR demonstrations using a CC-130 Hercules and a CH-146 Griffon helicopter.

Click here for the event’s website.

Places To Fly-West: Steinbach, Man.

Steinbach airport (JB3) is once again holding an open house on Saturday (Sept. 15) with many flying and static displays that are sure to thrill both the aviation community and the general public. Luke Penner will be performing aerobatics in his Extra 300L, and there will be fly-overs by warbirds and air operators.

Static displays include a Harvard, a T28 Trojan fighter, a STARS air ambulance, police helicopters, CASARA, home-built aircraft and more. Food trucks will be on site and admission and parking is free. Hours are from 10:00 to 15:00, and the fly-in public is welcome too.

Further information is available by contacting Matthew Penner by email.

Whirly-Girls Scholarships Available

A number of flight training scholarships are available for eligible female helicopter pilots to add additional ratings or qualifications to their licence. The scholarships are either provided by the Whirly-Girls or are administered on behalf of foundations and industry groups they have partnered.

The Whirly-Girls is a not-for-profit organization founded in the U.S. in 1955 for the purpose of advancing women’s role in the helicopter industry. As of 2018, there are over 2000 members from 49 countries.

This year there are 14 scholarships on offer, with some valued at $20,000 USD. Scholarships provide training in such things as external load handling, advanced mountain flying techniques, transition training to Bell 206 and Airbus H125 and many more. In recent years, the various scholarship offerings have added up to over $175,000 USD.

Applicants must have been a member of the Whirly-Girls prior to September 23, 2018 and must submit their application before October 15, 2018.

Click here for more information.


Weather Cam Failures On West Coast

West Coast pilots rely on weather cams and remote weather stations when planning their VFR flights, and a number of these assets, which commercial and private pilots have come to depend on, are currently unavailable due to equipment failures.

The only weather cam between Alert Bay and Bella Bella, on Addenbroke Island, has been offline for three months. Another weather cam, on Chatham point near Campbell River, is also offline. Both weather cams are operated by Nav Canada.

Air Cab, an air taxi operator based in Coal Harbour at the north end of Vancouver Island, flies loggers, fishermen and tourists up and down the B.C. coast and occasionally passengers needing emergency medical attention. Owner/operator Joel Eilersten told CBC News, “It’s definitely a safety issue. In the case of an emergency we have to know that we can go ahead and complete the whole job for people that may be hurt or otherwise.”

An automated weather station operated by Environment Canada, located on Herbert Island near Port Hardy, is, according to Eilersten, “…the only one that gives very accurate wind information.” However, it too is offline, with a site visit to repair it scheduled for October.

Nav Canada spokesman Jonathan Bagg told CBC News that, while regretting the inconvenience, pilots are encouraged to call flight services in Kamloops.

The Kamloops FIC is located 250 nm inland from the coastal areas served by the remote facilities.

Buttonville LOC RWY 15 Approach Unusable

Nav Canada’s renaming of a fix that forms part of the LOC RWY 15 approach into Buttonville (YKZ), using the name of a pre-existing waypoint located 60nm to the south, has led to the approach being NOTAM’ed unusable until the next data cycle on Nov. 8, 2018.

Jim Ferrier, Nav Canada’s director for aeronautical information management, told eFlight, “Nav Canada received a concern from a YKZ customer identifying a safety issue with similar sounding names being used on the LOC 15 procedure (ETGOX and ELGYN). Therefore, it was decided to resolve the issue by changing one waypoint name. WELLA was one of the options provided to the designer that was available for use.”

According to Nav Canada, the root cause of this problem is the FAA’s use of WELLA waypoint (in Canada) as a fix for IFR procedures into Buffalo airport (KBUF). Ferrier went on to say, “The FAA was advised that WELLA would be revoked and we were not made aware that they were still using this fix for procedures in KBUF. Our current policy dictates that we are unable to use this waypoint for a minimum of six months. It was not reused for this period, so no conflict was identified. We are correcting the issue in coordination with the FAA”.

The error was detected too late to amend the Canada Air Pilot (CAP) and related publications that were issued with an effective date of September 13.

The impact of this anomaly is not only limited to IFR flights. A common practice for pilots conducting VFR night flights into Buttonville airport is to load this approach into their navigation hardware so they can find the airport in Toronto’s sea of lights.

Pilot Mark Brooks alerted NAV Canada of this anomaly in early September. The inconsistency was also identified by Jeppesen when Nav Canada reported the waypoint in a different location from what they had in the Buffalo procedures.

With reports from Phil Lightstone and Mark Brooks.

Wreckage Of Lost Mooney Found

The wreckage of a 1963 Mooney M20D that went missing in B.C.’s mountainous interior last November has been positively identified after its discovery near Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park earlier this week by a passing BC Air Ambulance helicopter. Remains found at the site have been removed and are awaiting positive identification.

Dominic Neron, 28, an electrician from Parkland County, Alta. and his girlfriend Ashley Bourgeault, 31, a mother of three from Edmonton, were on a VFR flight from Penticton airport (YYF), in B.C.’s South Okanagan, to Villeneuve airport (ZVL), northwest of Edmonton. They had left Penticton at 14:30 PST and, when they hadn’t arrived at Villeneuve by 22:40 PST, a concerned friend raised the alarm. There was no ELT signal detected.

RCAF SAR and Parks Canada aircraft had flown 120 hours over an area of over 22,000 square kilometres of very rugged terrain before calling off their search after nine days. The search area had been narrowed down to an area of 18 kilometres outside Revelstoke based on information from radar and a cellphone tower that picked up a signal from the pilot’s phone. The RCMP continued the search when their helicopter was available, and local heli-ski operators also kept an eye out for any sign of the aircraft throughout the winter and spring.

Responsible Aerodrome Development – Phase II Underway

The next phase of rulemaking to modernize Canada’s aerodrome regulations is about to get underway. In early August, Transport Canada posted a Preliminary Issue and Consultation Assessment Form (PICA 2018-002) to the Canadian Aviation Regulations Advisory Council (CARAC), soliciting stakeholder comments on Phase II of the Responsible Aerodrome Development (RAD) file. COPA members might recall a concerted battle by our organization in 2013 for Phase I against unfair and inappropriate proposals for future aerodrome construction and expansion. After a lengthy advocacy campaign by COPA and others, Transport Canada modified the proposal to a more simplified regulatory regime with very specific triggers to the public consultation process.

Phase II seeks to strengthen the guidance material and introduce a similar mechanism for developers of projects in the vicinity of aerodromes, such as cell towers and wind turbines, to consult aerodrome operators early in the planning process, before construction begins. Particularly affected by RAD 2 are owners and operators of unregistered aerodromes (not in the CFS), whose location and nature of operations are not always immediately apparent, and who do not necessarily have the protection of an Airport Zoning Regulation, or AZR. COPA will be working hard to ensure a new process respects the right of unregistered aerodrome operators to remain unregistered, while providing developers with a mechanism to determine where these aerodromes are to facilitate the consultation process.

As the CARAC process unfolds, COPA will be consulting with our COPA Flights and other members on this topic to ensure that the community’s concerns are voiced and addressed. The initial comment period for the PICA closes September 28, after which a focus group will be struck, likely in the new year. COPA members wishing to have their comments included in our submission should send them to: