Air1 Gives Chase in Winnipeg

In the early morning hours of December 31, Winnipeg Police Service’s Air1 helicopter pursued fleeing automobile drivers in not one but two incidents of stolen vehicles.

In the first incident, ground-based police noticed a passing vehicle that had been stolen the day before. They gave chase but backed off as the fleeing vehicle sped away at high speeds. At that point, Air1 joined the chase and tracked the vehicle along city streets at speeds of up to 140 km/h (in a 60 km/h zone).

The driver attempted to cross the median at one point but got stuck halfway. The male driver and a female passenger then fled the vehicle and headed into nearby bushes and an industrial subdivision. Using infrared thermal imaging cameras, the airborne police officers were able to direct ground-based units to a point where they were able to apprehend the suspects.

Roughly 30 minutes later, another stolen car was spotted. Its driver, too, decided to make a run for it, speeding away from police cruisers that were in pursuit. Again, Air1 was called in to assist as the police cruisers broke off the chase. Again, the airborne officers gave a turn-by-turn commentary of the vehicle’s path. Ground-based police were eventually able to box in the stolen car and arrest the 24-year-old female driver.

The Winnipeg Police Service has a policy of not entering into high-speed pursuits of fleeing vehicles as these pose too much danger to nearby traffic, the pursuing police officers and the occupants of the fleeing vehicles. With the help of Air1, they have a much safer alternative.

Air1 is an Airbus Helicopters EC120 Colibri single-engine turbo-shaft model. When flying at an altitude of 1,000 feet above ground level, it has a perceived noise level of 68 dB, which makes it difficult to detect on the ground, making it a good choice for police surveillance work. It is crewed by a pilot and Tactical Flight Officer who is responsible for determining the use of the helicopter and controls its hi-tech systems.

Both chases were recorded on video and can be viewed here.

Photo by Joe Bryksa / Winnipeg Free Press

CF-105 Arrow Blueprints Surface

Sixty years after the Canadian government ordered the blueprints of the legendary CF-105 Avro Arrow destroyed, an original set of them have surfaced and are now housed at the Diefenbaker Canada Centre, a museum on the grounds of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

The project to design and build the Arrow was initiated to provide a solution for the protection of Canada and the United States from potential Soviet aggression from over the North Pole. It resulted in the most advanced supersonic interceptor of its time, capable of Mach 2 airspeeds and altitudes of up to 50,000 feet. However, early in the prototype phase the project was cancelled by then-prime minister John Diefenbaker and all blueprints, prototypes, tooling and related equipment were ordered destroyed.

There was one Avro employee, however, who wanted to preserve a set of blueprints. Senior draftsman Ken Barnes spirited a set away from the Malton, Ontario plant and secreted them away in the basement of his home. Son Gord knew that corner of the basement was out of bounds as he grew up.

However, once his father passed on, his son inherited the drawings. After giving it some thought, he decided to donate them to the Diefenbaker Centre, since the story of the Arrow is so closely tied to the former prime minister.

The blueprints are part of an exhibit currently on display at the museum.  Touch the Sky: The Story of Avro Canada continues until April.

Photo courtesy of the Diefenbaker Canada Centre

Neil J. Armstrong Scholarships

Applications are now open for COPA’s Neil J. Armstrong Flight Training Scholarship.

The COPA Neil J. Armstrong Scholarship Fund promotes Canadian pilot development by providing annual scholarships to student pilots in both ab-initio and advanced flight training programs.

Created to honour one of Canada’s foremost aviators, the scholarship has helped many Canadian pilots get their start. The main award is the Ab Initio Award which provides up to $10,000 to defray eligible training costs associated with the Private Pilot Licence (PPL).

The second award, the Advanced Training Award, is intended for applicants who already hold a PPL and are seeking higher licences or ratings. Both scholarship awards can be applied for by clicking on the link to the application form below. Since the Scholarship started in 1996, 61 students have received over $200,000 in scholarship funding.

“I have a part time job to help contribute to my own expenses, but flight training has been out of reach for me. This scholarship makes all the difference in me obtaining my private, and eventually commercial pilot’s licences.”

– Erik Yaremkewich, Squamish, B.C. 2018 Winner

“Thank you so very much for the honour of second runner up $2000 scholarship for flight training. It is so exciting to find out that my hard work and my lifestyle choices have paid off. I find it to be a huge honour to have been chosen amongst such a strong field of applications. These funds will definitely be put to good use in my flight training. Thank you again for both the scholarship and your assistance. You guys rock!”

– Natalie Cloutier, Lac La Biche, Alta. 2006 Second Runner Winner

Apply by clicking here. Deadline for submissions is March 1, 2020.

Order of Canada Inductees

Three Canadians who have made significant contributions to aviation and/or aeronautics in Canada have been recognized by their induction into the Order of Canada. Their names were released by the office of Governor General Julie Payette on December 28.

Michael Potter, founder of software developer Cognos Inc., is recognized for both his business achievements and his contribution to aviation heritage, forming Vintage Wings Canada (VWC). Located at Gatineau/Ottawa Executive Airport (CYND), VWC is a not-for-profit organization with charitable status that maintains vintage aircraft, some of which are in flying condition. The collection includes a Hawker Hurricane Mk IV, a de Havilland Tiger Moth and a Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX, among others.

Robert Dick Richmond, at 100 years of age, has a long history of involvement in Canada’s aviation history. In the 1940s he was head of aerodynamics at Fairchild Aircraft Ltd. After that company shut down, Richmond was hired on by Canadair Ltd., where he was lead designer on the Canadair CL-41 Tutor (of Snowbirds fame) among other aircraft. In the 1960s Richmond joined Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Canada as vice-president of operations where he stayed until he returned to P&WC in 1981, staying there until his retirement in 1988.

Brian Theodore (Tad) McGeer, an aeronautical engineer, is a Vancouver native but long-time resident of Washington (state). He made his mark by assisting in the development of unmanned aerial systems (aka drones), an area he has been involved in for decades. He initially entered the field to develop the technology for weather reporting and forecasting, but now is dedicated to military applications. A holder of multiple patents, his aerial systems are in use around the world.

All three become Members of the Order of Canada (C.M.).

RCAF Accepts First CC-295

The Royal Canadian Air Force accepted the first of 16 new CC-295 search-and-rescue (SAR) aircraft at the Airbus factory in Seville, Spain in mid-December. Presentation of the aircraft to the RCAF was delayed when the Department of National Defence (DND), the RCAF and Airbus disagreed over the contents of the aircraft manuals.

Although the aircraft was officially delivered, the DND continues to review the manuals to ensure that they meet the RCAF’s requirements.

Furthermore, it will remain in Spain until mid-year as RCAF crews familiarize, test and train on the turboprop. It is expected to be repositioned to CFB Comox on Vancouver Island this coming summer.

“The acceptance of the first aircraft is one of many steps in this complex program to replace the current fixed-wing search and rescue fleets,” DND spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said in an email to CBC News. “We will continue to work with Airbus to ensure the acceptability of remaining work, including revision of technical manuals, completing training for the initial RCAF crews and conducting initial operational testing and evaluation in Spain in the first half of 2020.”

Sixteen CC-295 aircraft will replace all six existing Comox-based CC-115 de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo aircraft and some of the older CC-130H Lockheed Hercules aircraft that are used for SAR operations.

A 442 Squadron (Sqn) Search and Rescue CC-115 de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Buffalo flies over a heavily forested area of British Columbia. Photo by 9 Wing Imaging, Corporal Miranda Langguth

The project cost was announced in 2017 to be $2.4 billion, with an option to pay Airbus an additional $2.3 billion to support and maintain the aircraft for 15 years.

Top photo credit: Airbus

Feds Analyze Pilot Training Assistance

Officials with the federal government, after analyzing the various skills training programs on offer, have come to the conclusion that they do not sufficiently address the looming commercial pilot shortage in Canada.

According to an internal document at Employment and Social Development Canada, existing government programs “are not well suited” to the training of more pilots. They suggest looking at how other countries tackle similar problems, such as joint government-industry funding of pilot training.

According to the industry, an estimated 7,300 new commercial pilots will be needed in Canada by 2025 given air travel growth trends. At the current rate of pilot training, industry forecasts a shortage of 3,000 pilots. That figure does not take into account the increase in pilots that will be needed to offset new crew rest periods that come into effect in a year.

“For $5 million, the government could help train 600 people a year. We add 600 people a year, every year, and we’re going to largely solve the shortage in Canada,” according to John McKenna, president and CEO of the Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC). McKenna’s scenario would depend on the government guaranteeing private student loans or covering the interest costs.

The programs that government officials identified as being unsuitable for pilot training include:

  • Apprenticeship programs as pilots are not a designated trade;
  • Canada Student Loans, as the cost of pilot training ($80,000+) vastly exceeds the maximum permissible loan amount;
  • Youth employment programs, because aspiring pilots are not recognized as students under existing definitions.

One federal program that does work for the training of pilots is the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Strategy, which was set up to help train Indigenous pilots in northern communities so that they can fill local vacancies and spend much, if not all, of their career in the North, where local knowledge is vital.

This comes after a private members motion (M-177) was introduced in 2018 in the House of Commons by then-MP Stephen Fuhr (Kelowna—Lake Country, B.C.) and subsequently passed that called for the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities  to review the looming pilot shortage and to explore ways the federal government can alleviate the situation.

COPA president and CEO Bernard Gervais presented to this committee on the same topic later in 2018.

A spokesperson for Transport Canada minister Marc Garneau said officials are currently looking at other ways of redoing training programs for the pilot training sector.

U.S. ADS-B OUT Exemptions

January 1, 2020 not only marked the beginning of a new year, and a new decade, it also marks the first day when ADS-B OUT becomes mandatory in certain U.S. airspace. The graphic above illustrates what the FAA is referring to as ‘rule airspace’ *.

The FAA may grant exemptions to non-complying aircraft on a case-by-case basis via a process called ADAPT, an acronym for ‘ADS-B Deviation Authorization Preflight Tool’. The process involves making application via a dedicated website. The first step is to determine whether an exemption for your aircraft and proposed flight path is available (a transponder equipped with an altitude encoder is a requirement). If there is availability, the applicant is then invited to complete the rest of the questions (mainly personal questions).

Application must be made at least one hour in advance of the planned departure, but no more than 24 hours in advance. Also, it is not a substitute for a flight plan or other ATC requirements; it is in addition to them.

The FAA has provided a five-minute video tutorial that describes the process.

* The rule airspace depicted in the illustration above as Class E from 3,000 to 10,000 feet and located 12 nm out from the coastline is only applicable to the Gulf of Mexico. It is not applicable to other U.S. coastlines.

Image credit: FAA