COPA Neil J. Armstrong Scholarship Applications Due Soon

Each year COPA awards deserving young Canadians funds to assist them in the early stages of learning to fly and becoming part of our general aviation community.

Created in memory of one of Canada’s foremost aviators and past COPA Board Chair, the Neil J. Armstrong Scholarship provides deserving students with the means to get their start.

The scholarship consists of two awards: One ab initio award worth $10,000 towards a private pilot licence (PPL) and a second worth $5000 towards higher licences or ratings. Both are available to qualified applicants aged 15-21.

Applications are now being accepted and must be received by COPA no later than March 1, 2019.

For more information, including complete eligibility guidelines, and to submit applications, click here.

Cause of Crop-Duster Crash Inconclusive

In a Transportation Safety Board (TSB) report released this week, investigators were unable to determine what caused the crash of a Cessna A188B AGtruck in Saskatchewan last summer.

According to the TSB report, “the aircraft had struck the ground in a wooded area at a very shallow pitch angle with a high rate of vertical descent, likely in a left turn, and came to a rest facing a northwesterly direction. The aircraft had little forward speed and did not leave a wreckage trail. This type of surrounding damage is indicative of an aerodynamic stall from a low altitude.”

The Clayton Air Service-operated crop sprayer had completed a spraying mission on the afternoon of July 12, 2018, approximately 3.5 nautical miles east of Carrot River, Saskatchewan. The ATPL-rated pilot texted his company office at 15:00 to advise them that he had completed the work and was returning to the company’s base at Arborfield (CJM6). He also filed an electronic report to the coming, which included the prevailing weather conditions.

Not long after, a bystander heard an explosion and followed the smoke to the crash site before continuing on to summon help. The local fire and police services attended the scene where they discovered the pilot dead and the aircraft destroyed by a post-crash fire.

The ELT did not activate as it was damaged on impact.

The TSB investigators determined that the aircraft was in compliance with existing regulations and that there were no known defects or anomalies with the aircraft. The pilot, who had received his ATPL a year earlier, had a current medical certificate. He had logged close to 3500 hours of flight time of which 45 were on the Cessna 188B. Investigators concluded that the pilot was qualified and fit for duty. Weather conditions were determined not to have been a factor in the accident.

A Cessna 188B AGtruck similar to this crashed while crop-dusting in Saskatchewan last year.

The complete report can be found here.

Rescued Pilot Returns To Rescue Plane

A Manitoba pilot who was rescued from remote Pickerel Lake last week returned to the scene to rescue his Piper PA-22.

Happy Bednarek, 72, took off on January 12 from an airstrip in Steep Rock, 210 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, heading to a camp on Sisib Lake, about 170 kilometres to the north. There, he was to meet up with friends.

Nature called en route, however, so Bednarek decided to put down on the frozen surface of Pickerel Lake for a pee break. The plane, however, refused to start up again. When he didn’t show up by the afternoon of January 13, the RCMP were notified.

Bednarek then dragged some supplies to the shoreline, built a fire and awaited rescue. A SAR Hercules dispatched from Trenton, Ontario and Bednarek was spotted early Monday morning. SAR Techs were initially unable to parachute in due to adverse weather, so the RCMP started out in snowmobiles from 45 kilometres away. Canadian Rangers, the RCMP and the SAR Techs all arrived at about the same time. A helicopter later recovered Bednarek and the SAR Techs. He had spent 52 hours awaiting rescue.

On Tuesday of this week, Bednarek returned to Pickerel Lake on snowmobiles with five friends and family members, including his son Darren, an aircraft mechanic. They fastened a rope to the Piper and towed it to shore with a snowmobile. There, with the help of a generator, they were able to warm up the engine enough to get it started.

Bednarek’s frozen PA-22 gets towed to the shore for some preheating thanks to a portable generator.

“He flipped it over on the prop because it’s a hand start, and I was inside manning the throttle and the primer and stuff like that, and it went on the second flip,” Bednarek said.

He later flew the plane back to his home base in Steep Rock.

Missing Air Tindi Flight Found, Two Dead

An Air Tindi charter flight from Yellowknife to Whati in the Northwest Territories went missing on Wednesday morning after the company lost contact with the pilots

According to Air Tindi’s president Al Martin, contact with the aircraft was lost between 09:00 and 09:30 when the aircraft was approximately 13 to 17 nautical miles outside of Whati, which lies about 86 nm northwest of Yellowknife. The only occupants were the two pilots.

Sergeant Alfred Beaverho of the Canadian Rangers told CBC News that the aircraft was spotted not far from the community of Behchoko, located a little over halfway along the aircraft’s flight path. A team of Rangers headed out on snowmobiles to assist, but were unable to reach the crash site due to deep snow and adverse weather conditions.

An RCAF Search and Rescue CC-130 Hercules that was dispatched from Winnipeg Wednesday afternoon to help with the search spotted the aircraft late in the day and two SAR techs parachuted to the site, according to RCAF Captain David Lavalle. This morning confirmation came in that both pilots had perished.

A Transportation Safety Board team has been dispatched to the scene to investigate. Meanwhile, Air Tindi has suspended their flights.

Coincidentally, another King Air 200 has disappeared in the North one day before the Air Tindi incident. A flight operated by Guardian Flight in Alaska took off from Anchorage on a flight to Kake, in the Alaskan panhandle northwest of Wrangell. Debris has been spotted in the water near Admiralty Island, about 18 nm to the west of Kake, but there has been no confirmation it is from the missing King Air.

‘Explore Aviation Summer Camp’ Returning

Nav Canada announced this week that they are again organizing a summer camp for youth interested in a career in aviation. Following on last year’s inaugural event, this year’s one-week camp will be held at Nav Canada’s ‘NAV CENTRE’ in Cornwall, Ontario. Day trips to Montreal and Ottawa are planned.

High school students entering Grade 10 this coming fall are eligible to apply. Twenty-four girls and 24 boys will be selected from among the applicants. The young women’s camp will be held from July 14 to 19, with the young men’s camp running from August 11 to 19. Nav Canada will pay for all costs, including air transportation, lodging and meals.

Some of the activities participants will enjoy include using Nav Canada’s state-of-the-art simulators to practice controlling aircraft, touring Nav Canada’s flight inspection aircraft and tours of a Nav Canada control tower and area control centre.

“For me the interesting part is that you get to see the layers of aviation. We would say ‘there’s the pilot, there’s the person in the tower’ but there’s so many people in between and there’s so many career opportunities. I feel that I can go anywhere,” said Monica Muresan, a participant in last year’s camp.

Interested parties will need to complete an application form, compile a short essay and provide a letter of reference from a teacher or community leader. Application deadline is March 8, 2019. Click here for more information.

COPA’s Montebello Fly-In A Success

Despite challenging weather, the annual event once known as a fly-in for Challenger ultralights attracted over 23 aircraft and 130 members. This year’s event was the first one organized by COPA. The Chateau Montebello was again the host, providing a luxurious riverfront location that has proven popular to be a popular venue over the years.

Rain fell in the days before last weekend’s event, which was subsequently topped off by a snowfall that prevented a smooth, frozen surface from being prepared for wheeled aircraft. Ski-equipped aircraft had no problem in landing, however. Many others arrived for the event by car, and accommodation at the Chateau was sold out.

Among the weekend’s highlights was a team from Vintage Wings of Canada that provided marshalling services to the many aircraft manoeuvring on the surface of the frozen river, dotted with passing snowmobiles.

Among aircraft that flew in were Piper Cubs, a Bellanca Scout, a Cessna 150, a Fleet Canuck, a Husky A-1C, a Champ, an RV8, as well as numerous ultralights including, of course, a fleet of Challenger ultralights. COPA President and CEO Bernard Gervais arrived in his Maule MX-7.

The Saturday night banquet attracted 90 members, with Transport Canada’s Pierre Ruel, Chief of Flight Standards, serving as keynote speaker. During the banquet, representatives from  Aviateurs.Québec presented COPA with a donation of $5000 to COPA’s Freedom to Fly fund in recognition of the support COPA has provided in the defence of airports whose viability is being threatened by litigation.

Mirabel Sees Significant Growth, Tower To Return

Quebec’s Mirabel airport (CYMX) will soon see a return of air traffic controllers to its tower. According to a recent Aeronautical Study undertaken by Nav Canada, a 16-hour airport control service was recommended along with the retention of a 24-hour FSS weather observation service together with an 8-hour airport advisory service, and a review of the airspace boundaries at Mirabel and its surrounding areas.

This increase in services, which follows on the implementation of a ground frequency last year, comes as Mirabel continues to see year-on-year growth in aircraft movements. The mix of cargo airlines, medevac flights, RCAF operations with CF-18s, Bell Helicopter’s, Bombardier’s and Airbus’s manufacturing facilities, the growth in the number of flight schools, both Mirabel-based and others who use Mirabel for training, and other general aviation operations have all combined to create a situation where tighter control of air traffic is desirable for both safety and efficiency reasons.

“According to our policies, airport control services may be provided where total annual aircraft movements exceed 60,000,” Nav Canada’s Ben Girard, VP for Operational Support, told eFlight. “Mirabel saw over 69,000 movements in 2017, and exceeded 75,000 in 2018. The number and the mix of traffic justifies the return of air traffic services at Mirabel.” In comparison, Mirabel saw little more than 24,000 movements in 2008.

The reactivation of Mirabel’s control tower will be accompanied with the implementation of a Class C control zone, which will revert to a Class E control zone for the eight-hour period the tower is closed.

As general aviation continues to grow at Mirabel, private hangars are becoming available. Since 2016, local company Mirajet has already built 15 hangars close up to the control tower, with direct access to taxiway India. Five more hangars, that can also be used for business purposes, are in the planning stages.

Once seen as one of the federal government’s biggest boondoggles ever, built in 1975 at a cost of around $500 million (2.2 billion in today’s dollars), many Canadian taxpayers will likely find solace knowing that the airport did not turn out to be a complete financial loss.

County To Replace Innisfail Airport Terminal

The host airport for COPA’s 2019 western conference and trade show is receiving $1 million to replace its terminal building and upgrade other facilities. Innisfail’s airport, also known as Big Bend airport (CEM4), is managed by COPA Flight 130 – Innisfail Flying Club on behalf of Alberta’s Red Deer County, the provider of the funds.

Senior officials of the county told local newspaper The Innisfail Province that they expect to have the new 1,200 square-foot terminal finished by the time the three-day COPA event begins June 6, when from 400 to 500 members and up to 300 aircraft are expected to arrive.

Innisfail’s Big Bend airport terminal building.

The county’s corporate services director Ric Henderson was quoted as saying, “Over the years we have done small projects there, backfilling and building a new taxiway and did some drainage work, so this would probably be the biggest investment in the last number of years.”

Innisfail airport is also home to skydive and gliding clubs. “There’s lots of hangars out there,” added Henderson. “There’s lots of aircraft out there, and it’s a valuable asset for us. We want to make sure it keeps operating.”

Innisfail aerodrome was constructed in 1941 as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan as an alternate airfield for No. 36 Service Flying Training School in nearby Penhold. It was turned over to the county by the federal government in 1995, after CFB Penhold was decommissioned. Today only one of the three runways originally constructed survives.

The Innisfail Flying Club was formed in 1960 and began managing the airport in 1986. Jim Romane, a director of the 30-member club, said, “The Red Deer Airport is after commercial and passenger flights. They don’t want anything the Innisfail airport caters to. We’ve got skydivers, small airplanes, a glider club going on and we’ve got crop spray airplanes. These are all things nobody in the big airport want. It fills a void in those areas of general aviation.”

New Drone Rules: How They Affect Model Aircraft

As previously reported by eFlight, Transport Canada (TC) has introduced new rules that will regulate what TC refers to as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), or ‘drones’, and their pilots. By definition, model aircraft fall into TC’s RPAS definition. However, the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC) expects that its member will be exempt.

In a statement issued to eFlight by Rodger Williams, the chairman of MAAC’s Transport Canada Advisory Committee states, “MAAC acknowledges the significant efforts of Transport Canada to provide a fair and balanced set of regulations for the use of all remotely piloted aircraft, but also points out that due to its outstanding safety record, the intent is for MAAC and its members to be exempted from the new RPAS regulations.”

Although TC has not yet confirmed any exemptions, unconfirmed reports are that members of MAAC who are operating at established model aircraft fields and following MAAC-endorsed procedures and regulations will be exempt from the new rules, which are scheduled to take effect on June 1. Those who want to operate model aircraft and who are not MAAC members can do so, but must follow the new rules by taking the online pilot exam and registering their model aircraft with TC.

MAAC’s president Peter Schaffer told eFlight, “We appreciate that Transport Canada continues to recognize MAAC’s seven decades of safe model aircraft operations, and has agreed to work with the association to provide an exemption that will allow MAAC members to continue operating under its well established safety codes.”

Aircraft Deliveries to U.S. Held Up

The U.S. government shutdown is affecting deliveries of Canadian-made aircraft to the U.S.

The U.S.-based National Air Transportation Association reports that one of its member companies has two aircraft in Canada where they recently received new paint jobs. Since they require an FAA permit to return to the U.S., they are effectively stranded in Canada. Any flights requiring FAA ferry permits across the border are also being held up.

A continued U.S. government shutdown could affect the Mirabel facility where the Airbus A220 (ex-Bombardier CSeries) is currently manufactured. Delta Airlines had planned to begin flying the Airbus A220 on January 31. FAA inspectors need to give final approval before the aircraft enter service, so that target date looks in doubt now, according to William Hoogenhout, a business agent for the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists union, which represents some FAA inspectors. He says it will begin getting worse for Delta as they were expecting to add two aircraft each week to their fleet.

Deliveries of other Canadian-built aircraft may also be affected if the shutdown continues for much longer.

Although the FAA has recalled ‘thousands’ of furloughed inspectors last week, those who do show up are meant to address safety concerns. That, presumably, means that routine processes, such as signing off on aircraft deliveries, may have to wait.

As for air traffic controllers, whose jobs are classified as an essential service, they have continued on the job, though without pay for over a month. The controllers’ union regional vice-president Andrew LeBovidge had this to say, “Is it safe? Yes, it’s safe. Can we survive this for long? That’s a question I don’t want to answer. I hope we can.”