Hawker Hurricane Undergoing Restoration

Above: An RCAF fighter pilot pauses for a photo on April 30, 1943, in the cockpit of his Hurricane aircraft on the east coast of Canada. (DND Archives, PL-16163)


It was five years ago that Greg Davis began restoring a British Second World War-era fighter aircraft known as the Hawker Hurricane. Although not as well known, perhaps, as the venerable Spitfire, the fact remains that the Hurricane brought down more German aircraft during the Second World War than all other allied aircraft combined. The Hurricane also saw action in all major theatres of the war.

Davis started with a pile of boxes that had been collecting dust on the floor of a City of Calgary storage area since 1963. The city had become owners of the aircraft when a local organization, which had purchased it for eventual restoration and display in the city’s aviation museum, was unable to complete the project.

When an overseas collector offered to buy it and a de Havilland Mosquito for a million dollars 10 years ago, the Calgary Mosquito Aircraft Society (CMAS) petitioned to stop the sale of the planes. After a years-long effort, a deal was worked out with the city that had Calgary and the CMAS splitting the estimated $1.4 million restoration cost. “Anything it takes so that this airplane doesn’t leave Canada,” said CMAS president Richard de Boer, whose organization raised their half in two years.

The aircraft Davis is rebuilding in a hangar in Wetaskiwin, Alta., is one of the 1,400 Hurricanes made in Canada by Canadian Car and Foundry under the direction of aeronautical engineer Elsie MacGill. It was based on Canada’s West Coast during the Second World War. In all, around 14,500 Hurricanes were built, with the first one entering service in the U.K. on December 25, 1937.

Only 62 Hurricanes are left in the world, and just 17 of them remain in flying condition. CMAS’s project is not intended to join the ranks of the flying, however. The aircraft will be restored to a point that will allow it to taxi only.

New Pilot To Fly Food To Northern Community

Winnipeg’s Andi Sharma, a newly minted pilot as of last summer, has a passion not only for aviation but for food security as well. As Christmas approached, Sharma sought to combine those two passions as she planned a flight to bring over 150 kg of food to a northern Manitoba community.

Coordinating with an elder from the Poplar River First Nation, Sharma planned the trip for Christmas Eve. Weather conditions on that day prevented her departure for Poplar River airport (CZNG), so she is now awaiting better meteorological conditions.

In an interview with the CBC, Sharma said, “Sometimes when I’m at my desk working on food security things, that can be very abstract. But this really gets me to the community level, to the boots-on-the-ground level, and that feels really good.”

Sharma, a food security policy analyst for the government of Manitoba, obtained her private pilot licence last summer thanks to a grant from the Manitoba chapter of the 99s. Sharma, who immigrated from Barbados in 1997, thanks her late father for sparking her interest in flying when he took her for a discovery flight when she was a teenager. “I’ve gotten to a place where I could finally pick it up again and honour his memory,” she said.

Among her other accomplishments, Sharma, a Balmoral Hall School (Winnipeg) 2003 graduate, has written for the CBC and the Huffington Post, served as a UNDP Ambassador for Social protection and spoken at a TEDx conference on food security.


Fourteen-year-old Pilot Sets World Record

December 18, 2018 will be a date marked in the Guinness Book of World Records if Mohammad Faizy’s solo flight meets the organization’s requirements, and all signs are that it does.

Mississauga teen Faizy, who goes by the nickname ‘Momo’, turned fourteen on December 12, which was the day he hoped to break the record. “I’m feeling very proud and very happy,” said Faizy, a student at Mississauga’s Stephen Lewis Secondary School. “We’ve been planning this for such a long time.”

Weather, however, was uncooperative, delaying his flight by four days. “I’m kind of disappointed that I didn’t do it on my birthday because that would just mean the world to me,” said Faizy, a student pilot at Brampton Flying Club. “That right when I was 14 I got a solo flight. But (14 years and) six days is also pretty good.”

In an interview with the Toronto Sun newspaper, Faizy was also quoted saying, “I felt free as a bird. I felt like soaring through the air, it made me feel like so independent and I have to do everything by myself. And that’s what I really liked about solo where I had like 100 percent full control.”

Faizy’s was inspired by his older sister Zahabi, who took up flying at 15 and earned a private pilot licence at 17, and who is now training for a commercial ticket.

The record for first solo flight of an airplane was previously held by American Jonathan Strickland, who was 14 years and four months old on the day of his record-setting flight at Vancouver/Boundary Bay airport (CZBB) in 2006. Strickland, now 26, went on to become the youngest airline captain in the U.S. by the time he reached the age of 23. Americans under the age of 16 often come to Canada for first solos as the minimum age for soloing in the U.S. is 16.

Canadian Technology to Propel Electric Aircraft

Ontario’s Hydrogenics has landed a contract with the developers of an ‘electric air mobility vehicle’ to design and supply a fuel cell system for it. The company developing this light aircraft, which envisions it will be used for daily commuting and other applications, wishes to remain unidentified for competitive reasons.

Hydrogenics has experience in this field, having contributed its technology to the prototype of a German all-electric four-passenger plane, the HY4.

“We are extremely pleased to have been selected by this innovative organization in the market for air mobility, where we see growing interest in aircraft applications to solve urban congestion”, said Hydrogenics’ president and CEO Daryl Wilson. “Hydrogenics has already established a position in the aerospace industry due to our work on the world’s first multi-passenger, all-electric airplane – launched in 2017 – and as a supplier to leading companies such as Airbus and Boeing. We look forward to adapting our proven, heavy-duty fuel cell solutions to this new aircraft.”

Mississauga-based Hydrogenics, founded as Traduction Militech Translation Inc. in 1988, changed its name to Hydrogenics in 1990. It acquired German company EnKAT GmbH in 2002, which then became its European division. Its main business is the development and manufacture of hydrogen generation and fuel cell products using proton exchange membrane and water electrolysis technologies.

New Drone Regulations About to be Unveiled

Transport Canada (TC) will soon be releasing to the public new regulations pertaining to the operation of drones in Canadian airspace. The new set of rules will become Part 9 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations.

The recent shutdown of London’s Gatwick airport before Christmas highlighted to many the implications of unauthorized drone operations near an airport. In contrast to Canada, where drones are restricted from operating within 5.6 km of an aerodrome (which includes airports and seaplane bases), the U.K. permits drones to operate as close as 1 km from aerodromes. It remains to be seen whether that country will tighten their rules in light of the Gatwick incident.

Here at home, reports of near-collisions with drones by pilots of all sizes of aircraft continue, with at least one incident of a mid-air collision being documented: the Transportation Safety Board concluded that it was a drone that struck a King Air turboprop airplane on approach to Quebec’s Jean Lesage airport (CYQB) in October of 2017.

“The number of reported incidents more than tripled from 38 when data collection began in 2014 to 135 last year,” Transport Canada said in a statement. “This brings with it increasing threats to the safety of Canadian airspace and to the safety of people on the ground.”

The new CARs Part 9 will continue to classify drones according to weight but will impose tighter regulations according to the weight class and according to its proximity to urban areas and aerodromes. Among other things, the new regulations will require knowledge tests for drone operators, registration with TC of drones, and the display of registration marks on the drone itself.

Reality TV Star Takes On DC-3 Restoration Project

Ice Pilots NWT reality TV star Mikey McBryan has purchased a severely deteriorated Douglas DC-3 that had been rotting away on the grounds of the Saint Hubert airport (CYHU) south of Montreal. McBryan, Buffalo Airways’ general manager, plans to have the aircraft restored, or at least ‘flight-ready’, in time to participate in the celebrations taking place this coming June 6 to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of German-occupied France.

In an interview with the CBC, McBryan was quoted as saying, “I never knew the DC-3s dropped bombs on D-Day.” He went on to say in an Instagram post that the aircraft logbook entries prove that his aircraft participated in the bombing that took place that day, dropping 12 twenty-pound bombs.

The aircraft was built in January, 1944 as a C-47A, tail number 42-92541 and serial number 12253. Purchased on eBay, McBryan plans to rebuild the aircraft on its current site. “This will be a huge undertaking as this aircraft has been stripped out over the past three decades,” said McBryan.

Buffalo Airways, founded by McBryan’s father Joe and based in Yellowknife, N.W.T, currently operates a fleet of DC-3s and C-47As. Said McBryan, “…luckily enough we know where [there] is lots of DC-3 parts.”

McBryan says he plans to fly the aircraft to Oshkosh in time for AirVenture 2019.

Demise of 121.5 MHz ELTs One Step Closer

The manufacture, importation, certification and sale of 121.5 MHz ELTs will be prohibited in the U.S. in 2019. That country’s communications regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), had originally put forth the rule in 2010 but the FAA, together with COPA’s sister organization AOPA, protested its implementation, citing a substantial cost difference between 121.5 and 406 MHz units, which are meant to supplant the older technology.

Effective January 11, 2019, certification of new 121.5 ELTs in the U.S. will be prohibited. Six months later, the FCC will implement the remaining prohibitions. The continued use in the U.S. of existing 121.5 ELTs will not be restricted, however, and their re-certification unhindered, at least for the time being.

In a statement, the FCC said “This will accelerate the transition to 406 MHz ELTs and, as a consequence, enhance the ability of search and rescue personnel to locate and bring aid to the victims of plane crashes and provide safety benefits to search and rescue personnel as well as pilots and passengers. The record demonstrates that 121.5 MHz ELTs were clearly inferior to 406 MHz ELTs due to interference and other concerns even prior to the termination of satellite monitoring of 121.5 MHz, and that the advantages of 406 MHz ELTs have increased since then.”

How will this affect Canada? Given that most, if not all, manufacturers of ELTs are based in the U.S., they may decide that the remaining market outside of the U.S. is not sufficient to justify the ongoing manufacture of 121.5 MHz units, which would presumably be done in a factory outside of the U.S.

“It’s been a long time coming and it is just a natural technological evolution. So if you need to replace your ELT, it will be with a 406 MHz model,” said COPA President and CEO Bernard Gervais. “I still foresee space-based ADS-B ELTs as being the ultimate technological solution in a few years. All this reminds me of how floppy disks gave way to DVDs, and even they are now clearly dying due to online or cloud-based technologies.”

Canadian purchasers of an ELT who wish to stay with 121.5 MHz technology will likely soon find the market limited to second-hand units only.

Drones Shut Down London’s Gatwick Airport

Photo above: Technicians survey the damage to an Aeromexico Boeing 737 caused by a drone.

Two drones have wreaked havoc on the business and holiday plans of tens of thousands of air travellers at Gatwick airport in England. Authorities closed the two parallel runways to traffic shortly after 21:00 UTC following the appearance of two drones flying over the perimeter fence and into the runway operations area. The airport reopened at 03:00 UTC Thursday only to close again after the reappearance of the two drones. At 12:00 UTC Thursday, the authorities reported that a drone had again been sighted within the previous hour.

British police say that they believe the incident is not terror-related, but rather a “deliberate act” of disruption, using “industrial specification” drones. They have called in the army to render logistical assistance, including soldiers on the ground and helicopters.

The airport was expected to remain closed until at least 19:00 UTC Thursday, but authorities decided to keep the airport closed for a second night.

This follows an incident last week when a Boeing 737 operated by Aeromexico incurred damage to its nose in what Mexican authorities are assuming was a mid-air collision with a drone. The collision occurred while the 737, on a flight from Guadalajara, was on its approach to Tijuana airport in northern Mexico. The aircraft landed safely, but the damage to the nose was extensive.

In an article published Thursday by the U.S.-based magazine The Atlantic, the author writes, “Though technology does exist to track, divert or disable rogue drones, those systems are being tested and rolled out slowly on an ad hoc basis in a handful of locations around the country.”

Canada has already experienced a mid-air collision between a commercial aircraft and a drone when, in October of 2017, the wing of a Beech King Air operated by charter company Skyjet was struck by a drone while it was approaching Quebec City’s Jean Lesage airport. In that incident, the aircraft suffered only minor damage and was able to land safely.

TSB Issues Urgent Recommendations On De-Icing

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) issued two recommendations this week that result from their ongoing investigation into the December 13, 2017 crash of an ATR-42 passenger airplane operated by West Wind Aviation. The crash resulted in injuries to all 25 occupants, 10 of them sustaining serious injuries with one passenger dying later.

The investigation has so far determined that there was residual ice on the wings of the aircraft when it landed at Fond-du-Lac airport (CZFD), and that this ice was not removed before the aircraft subsequently took off. The ATR-42 crashed into trees and terrain less than one nm beyond the runway.

One of the TSB’s recommendations issued as a result of the investigation, A18-03, reads, “[That] the Department of Transport and air operators take action to increase compliance with Canadian Aviation Regulations subsection 602.11(2) and reduce the likelihood of aircraft taking off with contaminated critical surfaces.”

The investigation has also revealed that there was minimal de-icing equipment available at Fond-du-Lac airport. According to the TSB’s website, the de-icing equipment that was available to West Wind Aviation in Fond-du-Lac airport consisted of two ladders, a hand-held spray bottle with electric blanket and wand, and a container of de-icing fluid.

This resulted in another TSB recommendation issued this week, A18-02, which reads, “The Department of Transport collaborate with air operators and airport authorities to identify locations where there is inadequate de-icing and anti-icing equipment and take urgent action to ensure that the proper equipment is available to reduce the likelihood of aircraft taking off with contaminated critical surfaces.”

Normally, the TSB does not issue recommendations until the final report has been prepared. However, citing the urgent nature of the recommendations, the TSB took the decision to release these two ahead of time.