AOPA Nall Report shows GA accidents down in US

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Air Safety Institute (ASI) released its 32nd edition of the Joseph T. Nall Report, which covers calendar year 2020. The report’s digital platform provides near real-time accident data, explains ASI, that are updated on a rolling 30-day cycle, accelerating the analysis process, and allowing for the most current snapshot of general aviation safety performance.

The report notes a decrease in total accidents in the U.S. from 1,167 in 2019 to 1,051 in 2020. The 10-year average is 1,223 accidents each year. Overall accident rates decreased from 4.87 per 100,000 flight hours to 4.69 and the fatal accident rate decreased from 0.89 to 0.83 from 2019 to 2020, respectively.

In addition, non-commercial fixed-wing accidents decreased slightly with the fatal accident rate declining to 0.92 and the total accident rate decreasing to 5.27. Helicopter accidents – both commercial and non-commercial – saw relatively flat fatal accident rates from 2019 to 2020, but overall accident rates decreased.

Weather-related accidents remain highly lethal, according to the ASI report, but overall weather accidents sharply decreased in 2020, and maneuvering accidents saw a substantial decrease in fatal accidents reaching a 10-year low.

“An area where we see some discouragement is the commercial fixed-wing total accident rate, which rose following two years of decline,” said Robert Geske, AOPA Air Safety Institute manager of aviation safety analysis. “We are also disappointed to see the number of fatal fuel-related accidents, which has remained steady at an average of eight per year for several years.

“Furthermore, landing accidents continue to remain the leading type of accidents, but thankfully they account for the lowest number of fatal accidents,” Geske concluded. Descent and approach accidents rose in both overall and fatal accidents, with stall/spin accidents accounting for the largest number of fatal accidents.

(Image: Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Air Safety Institute)

Counter UAS Sandbox taking place at CFB Suffield

— By Samantha Johnson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News

The Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program is holding a Counter Unmanned Aerial System Sandbox at CFB Suffield in an effort to gain more knowledge on how drones can be used, and how they can be stopped.

“We’re running this Counter UAS (drones) Sandbox to find ways to detect, track and defeat small commercial and hobbyist drones to enable our Canadian Forces to better protect themselves,” said Jared Giesbrecht, defence scientist with Defence Research and Development Canada.

Drone technology improves each year. As the capability of drones increases, Canadian Forces aims to continue to find solutions. The technologies being investigated include how far away can a drone be detected, stopped and tracked. There are drones on the market now that are smaller than 250g, below Transport Canada licencing requirements, but can travel long distances at high speeds and carry high-definition optics, meaning, from a defence perspective, they could be a problem.

A call for proposals was put out to companies, asking them to come to CFB Suffield to demonstrate their equipment.

“We are also trying to assess other portions of the equipment,” explained Giesbrecht. “How easy is it to deploy? How many people needed to deploy? The electrical requirements, everything that might affect how we use this equipment in the future. There is no one technology that we’ve found that is a silver bullet for counter drone work.”

The sandbox is a proactive measure for Canadian Forces to understand the technology, what the threat is, how drones can be used, and what the industry is able to provide in terms of counter measures. “Canadian Armed Forces needs to understand the threat and ability of the UAS on crude aircraft systems,” said Major Raymond Green with the Canadian Joint Operations Command.

The varying sizes of drones, how they perform, what effects they could have, and how to defeat them are all of interest.

Different companies are coming in to be the blue team, last week it was Hesoldt out of Germany and EOS, an Australian/American company. QinetiQ from Medicine Hat provided drones for the red team, flying them into blue team space to be defeated, either kinetically or non-kinetically. Kinetic approaches included being attacked by a blue team drone or being taken out by either bullets or missiles. Non-kinetic approaches included detecting, jamming and tracking.

Using different frequencies, such as outside those used for wi-fi (2.4 and 5.8 GHz), which are the most popular, was also part of the testing being done.

QinetiQ flew a $3,500, 800g drone (about six inches long with 10 inches between the rotors) with a 45-minute battery life. Under Transport Canada, unless a special licence is applied for, this drone can fly at 400 feet (121m). The operator took the drone to maximum height and flew it 540 metres from the red team base.

From there, the operator switched between 1x and 7x optics and then to a 28x live digital feed, which showed the site in detail.

“This shows a little bit of the story about why countering drones is so difficult,” said Giesbrecht.”They are small and maneuverable, and can fly low if they need to.”

(Image: Wikipedia)

Drumheller council awards airport lighting project after additional funding received

— By Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail

Things at the Drumheller Municipal Airport will look a lot brighter after Drumheller council approved a partial award for the lighting portion of the airport rehabilitation project to Border Paving Ltd at the regular Monday, October 3 council meeting.

Although the paving portion of the project was awarded in April 2022, council had decided to postpone awarding the lighting portion as the cost was over $200,000 above the approved budget.

In May, Drumheller Mayor Heather Colberg and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Darryl Drohomerski lobbied the provincial government for additional funding for multiple projects due to escalating project costs, including the airport rehabilitation project which is funded by the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program – Community Airport Program (STIP – CAP).

Under the STIP – CAP program, the provincial government will pay 75 per cent of the cost of the project, with the municipality responsible for the remaining 25 per cent.

Shortly after their lobbying efforts, a letter from Alberta Minister of Transportation Prasad Panda was received informing the Town it had been granted an additional $152,051 to complete the lighting project.

Based on the additional funding received, the budget for the lighting project was increased from $142,000 to $344,734.67. Border Paving identified the lighting project will cost some $336,650 to complete, which is $8,084.67 under the newly budgeted amount.

Council unanimously awarded the revised project to Border Paving.

(Photo: Town of Drumheller)

De Havilland announces new campus to be developed in Wheatland County

— By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times

De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited has announced it will be developing a new aircraft manufacturing facility to be located within Wheatland County.

The facility was announced officially during a press conference on Sept. 21, during which the drafted plans for the campus were revealed.

The new facility will be called De Havilland Field and will consist of a new aircraft assembly facility, runway, parts manufacturing and distribution centres, as well as a maintenance and overhaul centre.

Additionally, educational space for training, a general office, control tower and an aircraft museum are included in the site plans for the campus.

“It’s a very important day for our company… it’s not just for the De Havilland Aircraft Company of Canada, but it’s the product of what Rob (McDonald) and I have been dreaming about and talking about and scheming about since 2006 when we first acquired Viking,” said Sherry Brydson, co-owner of De Havilland.

The campus will be located between the City of Chestermere and the Town of Strathmore, roughly 30 minutes east of Calgary.

The entire campus is estimated to take between 10 and 15 years to complete fully, as there are more than 20 individual structures that will comprise the facility.

“We anticipate that some of our suppliers and partners will also set up shop around our campus and we’ll be happy to sell or lease them some property there to ensure there is a seamless supply chain for the new aircraft,” said Brydson.

Should De Havilland’s plan for construction continue as anticipated, construction of the campus will begin as early as 2024, with the first buildings reaching completion in 2025.

Wheatland County Reeve Amber Link spoke during the conference, citing the tremendous impact for the County that De Havilland’s investment will encourage.

“The population of Wheatland County is just under 9,000 people, so a development of this scale is monumental. We do anticipate a number of employees will come from the local region, but we also anticipate that De Havilland is going to draw employees from the urban municipalities surrounding us (and) also from all across Canada and potentially internationally,” said Link. “This will have a profound impact on the future of Wheatland County … for southern Alberta and for rural Alberta.

“For a company to trust that it makes sense to move their headquarters to a rural municipality and to work with our stakeholders and with our residents and with our neighbouring municipalities to move to Wheatland County, there aren’t words to describe how much that means to our community.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney spoke excitedly to De Havilland’s announcement as a tremendous opportunity for the provincial economy.

“This is a banner day for Alberta’s economy, for diversification in this province for manufacturing and most importantly, the aviation sector,” said Kenney. “We Albertans have long known that we need to put the pedal to the medal on diversification (and) that’s exactly what is happening.”

As construction of the campus takes off, De Havilland estimates greater than 1,500 jobs will be created over the course of its development.

More precise timelines regarding the start to construction in the county have yet to be released.

(Image: De Havilland Aircraft)

Snowbirds back in the air after two month grounding

— By Mark Brett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Pentiction Herald (Photo: Mark Brett)

Grounded in Penticton for the last two months the Canadian Armed Forces Snowbirds are flying once again.

Just after noon Thursday, the nine familiar red and white CT-114 Tutor jets took off in a row from Penticton Regional Airport.

Rejoining over Skaha Lake in their classic Big Diamond formation, the planes did a smoke-on, flypast as a tip of the hat to the city that’s been their home away from home this summer.

“This is just a small thank you to Penticton residents for all the support we’ve received, especially the last month and a half,” said Major Brett Parker, Snowbird 1 pilot and team leader. “It’s also a way of saying goodbye to those whose hospitality was amazing during Peachfest and we just can’t thank the community enough.

“Let’s be honest, Penticton’s a fantastic city to come to, in my opinion you can’t get any better in Canada than Penticton.”

On Aug. 2 after arriving in Penticton the team got an immediate no-fly order from headquarters following the crash of another Snowbird in Fort. St. John.

The grounding of the Tutors happened the day before the Snowbirds were to perform at the Penticton Peach Festival and effectively spelled the end of their season with the cancellation of the remaining shows.

The pilot was not injured and the Fort St. John accident which was reportedly the result of an improperly assembled oil filter. After determining the cause, the operational pause on the fleet was lifted just over a week ago.

At that time the pilots began their recurrency training on the several remaining Tutor jets in Moose Jaw as required after not having flown for 30 days.

“It’s just so great to be back in the air, to go out there and pull some G (gravitational force) and get the feel back,” said Parker.

Someone else who is glad to be back in the saddle is first-year Snowbird, Capt. Thomas Thornton.

“It really is so good to be flying again , there were a little bit of nerves at the beginning for the first flight but it comes back quick,” said Thornton Thursday morning as the planes were being readied for take off. “It’s amazing to be on the team and this year didn’t turn out the way we wanted but that’s aviation and you roll with it.”

While this is the sixth season with the Snowbirds for Parker it was his first as team lead so flying again was just a little bitter sweet.

“Sure, it’s been a challenging season but even the limited opportunity we’ve had, it’s been great to be on the road and saying `hi’ to all the Canadians who have given us outstanding support,” said the 48-year-old who has over 5,000 hours of flying time with the Canadian military.

This is his second go-round with the Snowbirds, having flown with them from 2010 to 2014 and then rejoining the team in 2020.

Parker still vividly remembers what the he now calls his first “revenue” show in front of an audience.

“It was the 2010 Grey Cup and it was in Edmonton and it was my home town and pretty special for me as a new guy just trying to figure out how to do the best job that I could,” he said. “On that flight, even though I’m looking at the aircraft in front of me, in my peripheral vision I can see Commonwealth Stadium coming up and then the fireworks start and it’s, `oh my gosh, I’m doing the Grey Cup flypast in my own hometown, it’s amazing, my childhood dreams come.”’

And it’s flights like that he hopes to share with the new recruits joining the team next year.

“Being the team lead I am the oldest one but I also have the fattest log book and I’ll try to get those pilots to utilize some of my experiences to develop their own skills,” said Parker.

The Snowbirds are still scheduled to do a year-end show at their Moose Jaw home base later next month before gearing up for 2023 season.

Huronia Airport Fall fly-in

— By Gustavo Corujo

The 2022 edition of the Huronia Airport Fall Fly-in and Open House was held on Saturday October 1. The event was sponsored by Huronia Airport and the Midland-Huronia Chapter of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association.

Located four nautical miles south southwest of Midland, Ontario, the airport saw a great turn out of visiting and local aircraft. It attracted large numbers of visitors driving in as well. Xstream Sport Aviation offered introductory flights all day. ZENAIR opened its doors to visitors from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, with two guided tours offered during the day.

For more photos of the event, visit

Government of Canada invests in Kenora Airport

Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra on October 4 announced the Government of Canada is providing the Kenora Airport with more than $8.8 million in funding, through the Airports Capital Assistance Program, for the rehabilitation of Runway 08-26, Taxiway A, and Apron I.

The work includes the removal of the granular base and subbase layers, and the placement of new granular base layers and asphalt paving.

This investment is in addition to the more than $370,000 in Airports Capital Assistance Program funding provided to the airport in May 2021, to purchase a sweeper used in the removal of ice and snow.

“Local airports play a crucial role in communities across Canada, and our government is committed to supporting them,” said Alghabra. “This investment in the Kenora Airport will ensure residents in Kenora continue to have access to safe and reliable air transportation options.”

Since the Airports Capital Assistance Program started in 1995, the Government of Canada has invested over $1.2 billion for 1,215 projects at 199 local, regional and National Airports System airports across the country.
(Photo: Kenora Airport Authority)