Summary of the issue

  • In May 2020, amidst the early stages of COVID-19, NAV CANADA announced a temporary suspension of air navigation services at 18 air traffic service facilities to ensure the continuity and safety of Canada’s air navigation system throughout the pandemic.
  • Why was this an issue? The continued restrictions to airspace by NAV CANADA have incurred extra costs for Flight Training by delayed flights, extra track miles and flight time, and restrictions on when Flight Tests are able to be completed. The restrictions to airspace for GA increase costs associated with added track miles and fuel burn. Additionally, the restrictions have introduced safety issues where aircraft are congested below Class C airspace that could be avoided with simple airspace structural changes.
  • By December 2020, COPA sent a letter to the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, to urge the Government of Canada to support air navigation services in Canada throughout the COVID-19 global pandemic. COPA indicated the importance of the 30 locations under review, noting that their closure would impact the post-pandemic recovery and could cause an increase in aviation incidents and accidents. In addition to this, COPA sent separate letters to NAV CANADA expressing concerns with the proposed changes in levels of service.
  • By late July 2021, NAV CANADA confirmed the complete list of sites where Level of Service reviews which were ongoing, would be postponed for the foreseeable future. This is excellent news for the affected communities, airports and aerodromes that would have very likely seen a reduction in the level of service. 

The postponed list includes the following airports, from west to east: 

Port Hardy, BC; Castelgar, BC; Prince George, BC; Fort St. John, BC; Fort Nelson, BC; Peace River, AB; High Level, AB; Fort McMurray, AB; Lloydminster, AB; Buffalo Narrows, SK; Regina, SK; Prince Albert, SK; Brandon, MB; Dauphin, MB; Flin Flon, MB; The Pas, MB; Sault Ste Marie, ON; Windsor, ON; Saint Jean, QC; Sept-Iles, QC; and Sydney, NS. 

The suspended studies include:

Whitehorse Tower, Churchill FSS, Inuvik FSS, Norman Wells FSS, Kuujjuarapik RAAS, Blanc Sablon RAAS, and Natashquan RAAS. The studies for these sites were suspended because of the CANSCA northern or remote status. 

Aeronautical Studies that were started in 2021 for Abbottsford and Nanaimo, as a result of the Vancouver Area Modernization Program, are safety-related and will therefore continue. An Aeronautical study concerning Primary Surveillance RADARs (PSRs) at seventeen sites across Canada has also recently commenced and COPA will be engaging with NAV CANADA regarding the potential impacts on GA flight operations. We will invite member inputs once COPA completes initial discussions with NAV CANADA. 

To learn more about NAV CANADA’s aeronautical study process and upcoming studies, please click here.

Support our efforts to protect your Freedom to Fly

The Freedom to Fly Fund was created to guarantee that COPA would have the resources to take on emergency actions, legal or otherwise, in the defence of the Canadian Freedom to Fly.

This fund is made available through the generous contributions of COPA members and supporters, to ensure that we continue to enjoy our freedoms, such as the right to have an airstrip on your property.

Uses of the fund include legal actions such as the federal jurisdiction issue that was successfully brought before the Supreme Court of Canada in 2009-2010.

To apply for support for an issue, click here. Please note, the Freedom to Fly Fund exclusively supports pilots who have been a COPA member for at least 12-months.