Harbour Air’s e-Beaver

By now most COPA members have heard or seen some of the extensive media coverage of the first flight of a battery-operated Beaver near Vancouver earlier this week. Indeed, much of the world has now heard the story. Most of that reporting, however, included misleading information and/or was replete with inaccuracies. Below we will dispel some of those myths.

The electric Beaver is a project of both Harbour Air, at one time the largest passenger floatplane airline in the world (now the second biggest) and magniX, a company founded in Australia but now headquartered in Redmond, Washington (near Seattle). magniX is the manufacturer of the Magni500 750-hp (560 kW) electric motor used in the prototype.

The flight was not in a commercial aircraft in the sense that it was certified to carry passengers – it is a prototype used in the certification process. As such, the flight was made for ‘proof of concept’ purposes only.

The batteries used in this prototype were lithium iron. This technology was selected as the batteries are less volatile than ordinary lithium ion batteries. The prototype’s batteries will be removed from the test aircraft and repurposed as energy sources for start carts.

Harbour Air’s prototype electric Beaver being transferred from its hangar to YVR’s riverside float plane dock.

The range of the prototype was not 100 miles as some media reported. Range of the test aircraft was not mentioned. The 100-mile specification comes from the range expected once Harbour Air’s electric Beavers become certified and put into commercial service. This will limit their use to the short island and coastal hops that make up the majority of Harbour Air’s routes, flights that typically last for 25 minutes or less.

Harbour Air founder and CEO Greg McDougall, who piloted the prototype, did not say that a tailwind helped propel the prototype aloft as some media reported. He said that, despite taking off with a tailwind (to ensure the aircraft became airborne in front of the gathered international media), the aircraft wanted to “leap in the air despite the tailwind.”

With the 185-lb payload of the prototype (with the pilot), it is obvious that a battery-operated Beaver is not yet commercially viable. The key to the success of this project is advancement of battery technology. The pace of this advancement is such that McDougall expects to have a commercially viable electric Beaver in service in southwestern British Columbia before the end of 2022.

Photos by Steve Drinkwater

Déni de service de Nav Canada

Nous tenons à remercier toutes les personnes qui ont soumis des données concernant un déni de service de Nav Canada. Nous avons récemment reçu des questions concernant nos intentions et nous souhaitons clarifier notre demande.

Le but de recueillir des détails de la part de nos membres concernant de ces dénis de service de Nav Canada est pour permettre à COPA de fournir des données factuelles à Nav Canada en ce qui a trait à :

  1. La congestion de l’espace aérien sous la classe C ; quand un NOTAM est émis pour limiter l’accès à l’espace aérien, selon les structures de l’espace aérien actuel.
  2. Les problèmes liés aux effectifs actuels de Nav Canada et aux membres de la COPA qui n’obtiennent pas les services tels que :
    • Suivi radar
    • Accès aux espaces aériens
    • Accès aux espaces contrôlés
    • Simulations IFR
    • Vols d’entraînement
    • Tests en vol
  3. Autre

Notre intention est de s’éloigner de commentaires anecdotiques. Cela nous permettra d’aller de l’avant, d’adresser les problèmes en cours en se basant sur des faits réels. Nous savons que les impacts ne sont pas les mêmes à travers le pays, mais nous vous demandons tout de même de nous fournir vos détails.

Le formulaire de déni de service de Nav Canada restera sur notre site web. COPA continuera à colliger les informations. Nous ferons un rappel lors des prochaines saisons plus occupées, au printemps et en été.

Helicopter Pilot/Entrepreneur Earns Prestigious Award

Helijet founder and president Daniel Sitnam has been recognized by the Helicopter Association of Canada (HAC) by awarding him the 2019 Agar-Stringer Award for lifetime achievement.

“This award is well-deserved. Danny has been a pioneer in the Canadian helicopter industry in many ways. Under his leadership, Helijet has become a highly versatile company, succeeding as both a scheduled helicopter airline and an air ambulance provider,” said HAC president Fred Jones in a written statement. “What’s more, Helijet is an industry leader in managing noise, promoting women in aviation, and doing charitable works in the communities they serve, among other things.”

Sitnam, who obtained his helicopter pilot licence at British Columbia’s Pitt Meadow’s airport (CYVK) in 1977, took a gamble and founded a helicopter airline in 1986 to service the Vancouver to/from Victoria market. Today, Helijet has grown into the largest scheduled helicopter airline in the world, having flown over 2.4 million passengers since its inception 33 years ago.

HAC president Fred Jones (r) presents the 2019 Agar-Stringer Award for lifetime achievement to Helijet founder and president Daniel Sitnam at the annual HAC conference recently held in Vancouver. Photo credit: HAC

“I feel humbled and privileged to receive the Agar-Stringer Award,” said Sitnam, also a 2017 Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame inductee.

In addition to scheduled services, Helijet also provides air ambulance services to the B.C. government, with three EMS-equipped Sikorski S-76C aircraft based at Vancouver airport (CYVR) that service southwestern B.C. and one S-76C based at Prince Rupert’s Seal Cove heliport (CBY5), servicing the North Coast and into central B.C.

Helijet also provides helicopter services to the film and television industry in addition to the tourism market, transporting people to remote fishing lodges and other locations.

The Agar-Stringer Award is named in honour of Carl Agar and Alf Stringer, founders of Okanagan Helicopters, a company that, within four years of importing in 1947 the first helicopter to be registered in Canada (a Bell 47B-3), grew to become the world’s largest operators of commercial helicopters. It was later merged into Canadian Helicopters Corporation.

Photo credit: Helijet

RCAF Snowbird Fleet Returns Home

The loss of a Snowbird jet during one of the Snowbirds’ performances in the U.S. certainly has air force investigators brooding over the accident, looking for clues as to its cause.

“We took an operational pause, our air force wanted to see what happened to the aircraft, so they’re looking at all the root causes,” according to Lt-Col Bandet, who serves as the Snowbirds’ team lead.

It was during a performance at the Atlanta Air Show in the U.S. state of Georgia on October 13 that one of the Tutors, piloted by Captain Kevin Domon-Grenier, crashed into a field near the town of Hampton, Georgia. No-one on the ground was injured, but Domon-Grenier was hospitalized overnight with minor injuries after successfully ejecting from the out-of-control aircraft. “He’s back 100 per cent,” said Lt-Col. Bandet. “It takes a little bit of time, but no ill effects, he’s doing well.”

The team of Snowbird pilots, who had returned to Canada a week after the incident, returned to Georgia last week to fly their CT-114 Tutors home to their base at CFB Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan. Up until then, the Tutors had been grounded, leading to the cancellation of the remainder of the team’s performances for the 2019 season.

“They’re going through [the aircraft] with a fine-tooth comb to see what’s going on,” said Lt.-Col. Denis Bandet.

Next year the Snowbirds will be marking their 50th anniversary as Canada’s air demonstration team. Planning is underway to highlight the event with special themes.

Photo by Steve Drinkwater

Drone Used in Apprehension of Fleeing Suspect

In a new twist in the civilian use of a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (or RPAS, TC terminology for drones), such a device was used to assist police in chasing down a suspected drunk driver who fled on foot after ramming two RCMP cruisers in northern British Columbia last week.

The drone, being operated nearby by the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS), was called into action to assist police officers and their K-9 assistants in locating the suspect.

The COS officers were justifiably proud of their work, later tweeting:

Photo by Jason Blackeye

Nav Canada Denial of Service

We would like to thank everyone who has made a submission with respect to a Nav Canada Denial of Service. Recently, COPA received questions regarding the intent so we would like to clarify our request.

The reason for seeking the details from COPA members regarding specific times that they experienced a Nav Canada Denial of Service is to allow us to provide factual data to Nav Canada with respect to the following:

  1. Congestion of airspace below Class C; when a NOTAM is issued to restrict access to the airspace, based on current airspace structures.
  2. Issues with the ongoing Nav Canada staffing and COPA members not being provided with services such as:
    1. Flight following
    2. Access to airspace
    3. Access into Control Zones
    4. Simulated IFR training
    5. Training flights
    6. Examination flights
  3. Other

Our intentions are to do away with anecdotal comments. This will allow us to move forward, address ongoing issues and find a mutually satisfactory resolution based on facts. We understand that this issue does not impact all COPA members, depending on their location. However, we are requesting COPA members who have been affected to provide us with the details of the situation.

The Nav Canada Denial of Service form remains on the COPA website. COPA will continue to gather the information and will remind everyone again in the busier spring and summer season.

Photo credit: Nav Canada

Pilot in Fatal Crash Unlicensed: TSB

The pilot who departed from Medicine Hat airport (CYXH) on a night flight to Moose Jaw airport (CYMJ) last spring that ended in collision with terrain, killing all three on board, was unlicensed, according to an investigation report released by the Transportation Safety Board earlier this week.

The pilot had at one time held a student pilot permit, but it had expired in May of 2014. The pilot also held an invalid Class 4 medical certificate, having expired in June of 2017.

The TSB reports that there was no flight plan filed, nor was there any record of the pilot having obtained a weather briefing before the flight. There were reports that evening of limited visibility in the area due to smoke and haze.

Crash site. Photo credit: RCMP with annotations by the TSB.

The aircraft struck the ground 18 nm east of CYXH at high speed and at a nose-down attitude of around 45°. Although the ELT was activated, the signal was weak and did not alert authorities of the crash; a ground and air search that eventually found the aircraft the next morning was launched after a call was made to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton three hours after the aircraft was overdue.

The impact was such that the TSB investigators could not determine whether the flight controls and other aircraft systems had been in proper working order, although records did not reveal anything amiss.

The pilot had at least 142 hours of flight experience logged in his incomplete logbook, and reportedly had around 40 hours of night flying experience with another pilot on board.

COPA reminds members of the importance of a culture of safety while exercising the freedom to fly. The General Aviation Safety Campaign (GASC), a joint effort of COPA and Transport Canada – Civil Aviation exists to further this objective.

The complete TSB report can be viewed by clicking here.

Photo credit: Global News