Author Archives: Jon Robinson

Blue Line Aviation opens facility, highlights Diamond Aircraft partnership

Blue Line Aviation’s new FAA CFR 14 Part 60 Level 5 certified convertible simulation device for Diamond DA40/DA42 aircraft. (Photo: Blue Line Aviation, Diamond Aircraft)

Blue Line Aviation recently celebrated the grand opening of its new facility at Johnston Regional Airport (KJNX) in North Carolina, featuring a brand-new DA40/DA42 convertible Diamond Simulator.

The new 50,000-square-foot headquarters at KJNX for Blue Line Aviation is an investment matched with what represents one of the largest fleet orders in Diamond Aircraft history at 100 aircraft. First deliveries of the Diamond airplanes began last year.

This aircraft order has a significant impact on Canada’s aviation industry with Diamond Aircraft Industries’ operation in London, Ont., building the single-engine DA40 NG airplanes as part of Blue Line’s order. The twin-engine DA42-Vi aircraft are being built in Austria, which is where Blue Line’s new FAA CFR 14 Part 60 Level 5 certified convertible simulation device was also developed.

“It has been impressive to witness the growth at Blue Line Aviation,” said Annemarie Mercedes Heikenwälder, Head of Sales and Marketing, Diamond Aircraft Industries. “The team has made tremendous progress and we are proud to partner with them and continue to support their operation.”

With its expansion, Blue Line Aviation is noted as the fastest-growing Accelerated Aviation Training entity in the United States. The flight training facility features ample hangar space, a Professional Pilot Training Center, a rooftop barbeque restaurant with a terrace, a custom simulator room, an operations and dispatch center, flight briefing rooms and administrative offices.

“Our new multimillion-dollar facility at Johnston Regional Airport and supply of the best in industry featured aircraft from Diamond will enable the growth and expansion of Blue Line Aviation’s vision of high-quality Accelerated Flight Training,” said Rich Laviano, President, Blue Line, which was established in 2012.

Government of Canada invests in safety at Saint John Airport

Wayne Long, Member of Parliament for Saint John, Rothesay, on March 1 announced the Government of Canada is making important safety investments at the Saint John Airport, CYSJ, which is located eight nautical miles east northeast of the business district in Saint John, New Brunswick. In 2018, well before the COVID-19 pandemic, the CYSJ terminal handled 282,217 passengers, a seven per cent increase over the previous year.

Through Transport Canada’s Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP), the Government of Canada will provide CYSJ with more than $1.8 million to purchase safety equipment including: an aircraft rescue firefighting vehicle; a shelter to house and protect the firefighting vehicle; a snowblower to keep airside surfaces clear; and a runway surface friction tester.

This funding is in addition to the more than $500,000 in Airports Capital Assistance Program funding provided to the airport in May 2021, to support the rehabilitation of airside apron floodlighting and electrical constant current regulators.

“The Saint John Airport is an important hub for residents and businesses in this region,” said Long. “This investment will help maintain continued safe and reliable airport operations for folks in Southern New Brunswick, many of whom depend on their local airport not only for personal and business travel, but also for access to routine and emergency medical care in larger centres.”

Since ACAP in 1995, the Government of Canada states it has invested more $1.2 billion for 1,215 projects at 199 local, regional and smaller National Airports System airports across the country. ACAP, as announced in the Fall Economic Statement 2020, was to receive a one-time funding top-up of $186 million over two years. This update also introduced a temporary expansion of eligibility for ACAP to allow National Airports System airports with less than one million annual passengers in 2019 to apply for funding under the program in 2021-2022 and 2022-2023. The eligible National Airports System airports are: Gander; Charlottetown; Saint John; Fredericton; Moncton; Thunder Bay; London; and Prince George.

(Photo: Saint John Airport)

Humboldt submitting grant for airport condition study

— By Jessica R. Durling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal

The City of Humboldt is applying for a $30,000 Community Airport Partnership (CAP) provincial grant to fund an aerodrome feasibility and planning study, examining the costs associated with an airport revitalization.

According to city administration, the airport has been a concern for years.

“We are concerned about different aspects of the airport as it is aging and where we should go next with the airport. If we should be expanding it, if we should rehabilitate it,” said Peter Bergquist, director of public works and utilities. “We’re going to be seeking a qualified airport consultant to give us some advice and some guidance and provide us a report on the airport and where we should go with it.”

The estimated cost for the study is $60,000. If the CAP grant is approved, the funds would cover half of the cost, leaving $30,000 to be covered by the city.

The study would cover a current conditions assessment on services, facilities, activities, economic impact; proximity to other airports; comparison to similar aerodromes; a prospective activities assessment including potential users, activity management, access control, development, fees and charges, tracking traffic, property management, runway lengthening, and lot expansion possibilities; cost estimates for rehabilitation or restoration as well as expansion to meet anticipated or prospective use for runways, taxiways, aprons, visual aids, and more; and a governance review with options for ownership and operation, as well as risk management, and environmental considerations.

If the grant is funded, administration would create a public request for proposal (RFP) outlining the elements to be included in the study. Upon awarding to a qualified consultant, staff would require that the local flying club, aerial applicator businesses and other interested stakeholders be engaged.

Joe Day, Humboldt’s city manager, said that the $30,000 would need to be funded from operational savings, and if there isn’t enough operational savings realized by the end of 2022 the study will need to be funded from reserves.

“We’ll look first to see if there’s operational savings that we can find somewhere else,” Day said. “When events like this happen mid-year after budget we try to go ahead with some study or program that hasn’t been budgeted – typically the director would be instructed to be aware that there has been an out of budget approval and if they can find savings in other areas to do so.”

According to the report to council, before the vote on Feb. 28, the local flying club has expressed support for growing the airport.

(Image: City of Humboldt)

NAV CANADA’s ADS-B “Mandate”?

— By Jim Ferrier, Director, Aviation Operations, COPA

NAV CANADA has now published its Mandate requiring ADS-B Out equipage for Canadian airspace. Requirements in Class A and B airspace are identified to start February 23, 2023, and no sooner than February 23, 2026, in Class C, D and E airspace.

Over the next weeks, COPA will publish a series of articles that will highlight concerns with the proposed implementation of the NAV CANADA mandate of ADS-B. These legitimate concerns have not been addressed, at least not publicly, by the air navigation service provider, NAV CANADA, and the regulator, Transport Canada.

Doesn’t the verdict come at the end of a trial?

Is a Mandate really a Regulation and Whose Authority is it?
NAV CANADA represents this Mandate as being issued on behalf of Canada for users of Canadian Airspace. Aeronautical Information Circular 2/22: “Notice of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Out Performance Requirements Mandate in Canadian domestic Airspace” states:

“Beginning 23 February 2023, Canada will commence an automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast out (ADS-B out) performance requirements mandate for applicable Canadian Domestic Airspace (CDA).”

This statement raises the first concern: “What authority allows NAV CANADA to impose a mandate on behalf of the State?”

To begin to understand the question, one must look at the definition of Mandate. The definition, or any example of a mandate, is not included in the Aeronautics Act, Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) or Canadian Air Navigation Services Commercialization Act (CANSCA) so one must look to a dictionary.

NOUN: “An authoritative order or command”. VERB: “To require as by law; make mandatory”. (Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition)

These definitions clearly describe something that holds authority or requirement based on law. Without a specific alternate definition of Mandate in Canadian aviation legislation, one can only assume this definition makes “Mandate” synonymous with “Regulation” if it holds legal authority. This then makes it difficult to understand how NAV CANADA can publish a Mandate and why Transport Canada is not making these changes through CARs or Standards?

The Aeronautics Act states the “Minister is responsible for the development and regulation of aeronautics and the supervision of all matters connected with aeronautics.” On the other hand, CANSCA allows “the Corporation may plan and manage airspace” yet specifically identifies “the Governor in Council’s right to make regulations respecting the classification and use of airspace.” In simpler terms, the legislation designates Transport Canada, and the State, has the authority to make regulation or legal requirements and NAV CANADA can plan and manage airspace.

Without clear authority then how can NAV CANADA’s mandate be legally enabled? How will NAV CANADA enforce compliance?

AIC 2/22 “states that the “..mandate will be enabled through airspace classification designation and amendment to transponder airspace requirements, as described in the Designated Airspace Handbook (DAH), TP 1820E.” This statement is interesting as it seems the intent is to amend existing transponder airspace requirements to include the addition of an ADS-B equipment requirement in the DAH and not to make actual regulatory change but instead do so by some sort of reference.

This approach to enablement is confusing as the DAH currently has no equipment definitions in its content and instead is a document defining the boundaries of different airspace and not operating requirements. How can the DAH be used to delegate regulatory authority to NAV CANADA to mandate specific equipment if it has never done so before? It seems even more strange to assign operational equipment requirements to the DAH when the precedent is that equipment requirements, related to airworthiness or operations, have always been defined by TC and included in CARs or associated Standards.

Based on the preceding observations it is difficult to understand how a mandate by NAV CANADA can be enabled or implemented instead of regulation by TC. Instead, it seems that significant change is intended to be implemented without TC needing to define requirements in CARs or Standards. This approach would also seemingly allow TC to avoid the need to follow legislated processes like CARAC or Gazette to make change (which can take more than two years)? This optic is disturbing as these legislated processes are meant to allow public comment on proposed changes and avoid arbitrary changes to regulation without consultation. Would the CARAC process not highlight in public record all user concerns, including operational and cost impacts of this mandate, that need to be considered? It also might identify a better implementation approach, that would minimize operational penalties and millions of dollars of costs to users across the industry.

After consideration, the original question remains “What authority allows NAV CANADA to impose a mandate on behalf of the State?” There does not seem to be any clear connection to regulation that provides legal authority for NAV CANADA to act on behalf of the state.

Representing the single largest group of Canadian airspace users, COPA reasons that the concerns raised and the questions identified in this article (more to come in subsequent articles) need to be addressed, answered and explained, publicly, before this “Mandate” can be imposed, in less than one year.

(Image : Aireon)

Transport Canada medicals update

— By Jim Ferrier, Director, Aviation Operations, COPA

As many of you know, Transport Canada has been experiencing challenges with processing Aviation Medicals. COPA recently had the opportunity to meet with Civil Aviation Medicine leadership to discuss the current situation.

Transport Canada recognized that there have been many delays and are working to streamline their systems and processes to process files as quickly as possible.

Civil Aviation Medicine staffing has been brought up to the maximum available to address shortages that had developed over time. CAM processes over 60,000 requests every year with a fixed number of staff so the workload is prioritized. A pilot flying for a living would be prioritized as their livelihood is dependent on the validity of their medical certificate. Like the saying “Aviate, Navigate, Communicate”, communications have been prioritized accordingly.

IT systems supporting the medical process at TC need updating. As staff have moved to a virtual work environment, the systems do need a digital transfer of information. This takes time and the COVID lockdown hasn’t helped to expedite that process. Paper inputs like regular mail and fax need to be manually sorted and scanned into systems to be available for processing which was nearly impossible during lockdown. This added to wait times which now can be avoided if the information is sent in a digital format.

Here are some tips that could assist in expediting processing:

• Please send your information in a digital format like email, Canada Post Connect secure mail or through your CAME. This can help reduce processing time as information does not need to be digitized into the systems.

1. Email is of course the easiest but it is not secure and should not be used for sending sensitive and personal information.

2. Secure email is another option offered through Canada Post Connect. If TC CAM needs additional information on your file, they will often send an invitation to your email on file to connect with them through this service. It was noted that sometimes this invitation may appear to be a SPAM message. Please look into your spam folder as it may appear there.

3. Your CAME can now submit digital files, securely and directly to Civil Aviation Medicine on your behalf. Provide them with a digital copy of your information and they can attach it to your. Close to 90% of all CAME are now being submitted electronically. Make sure yours is one of them.

• Please do not contact CAM by phone. Phone communications require significant resources so they have been given lower priority to processing files and will consume your time waiting.

• Only request the level of medical that you need for the type of flying you do. For example, if you really do not need a Class 1 medical consider doing a Class 3 as it can normally be done faster.

Below is additional information that was discussed with the TC Civil aviation medicine.

• Transport Canada is planning a review of some medical standards as management of some conditions has changed. For example, diabetes management has changed considerably so licensing standards should be reviewed. While no timeline was given to when this might occur it was identified as an item needing attention.

• TC is looking to work with FAA to address the misalignment of FAA Basic Med and TC Category 4 medicals to create a mutually acceptable solution to be used in both countries. This item also creates an opportunity to reassess/revitalize the Category 4 medical for more general use while reducing some administrative burden.

While significant changes do not seem on the near horizon, progress is being made and Civil Aviation Medicine is aware and is empathetic of the issues our members face. COPA will continue its regular dialogue with Transport Canada and welcomes your feedback. Please contact if you are experiencing significant delays, or issues, with the processing of your aviation medical.

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

FAA reaches 1 million authorizations for drone pilots

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in early February issued its millionth airspace authorization for drone pilots. The Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) automates the process for drone pilots to quickly gain authorization and provides Air Traffic professionals with awareness of where drones may be operating.

“This system has allowed drone pilots to gain timely access to busy airspace without sacrificing safety,” said Teri L. Bristol, the chief operating officer of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization. “We are grateful to everyone who helped us reach this milestone safely.”

In Canada, this process is overseen by NAV CANADA, which includes the use of its NAV Drone application via a Web browser or mobile app, introduced in June 2021.

On February 11, 2022, the FAA also announced plans to begin field-testing new drone-traffic-management capabilities to further integrate these aircraft into the National Airspace System. The Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) Field Test, which will start in the spring of 2022, will allow the U.S. government and drone community to continue improving standards, data-exchange methods and cybersecurity capabilities.

Under Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, U.S. drone operators need to secure approval from the FAA to operate in any airspace controlled by an air traffic facility. Prior to LAANC, airspace authorizations were done manually, which could take drone pilots weeks to get approved. In 2017, the FAA recognized that the manual system delayed the agency’s goal to support routine drone operations and launched LAANC as a prototype for automatic airspace approvals.

Since becoming an official program in 2018, LAANC has provided an automated system for drone pilots – both commercial pilots and recreational pilots – requesting to fly below 400 feet in controlled airspace. Drone pilots are able to request airspace authorizations through any of the FAA-Approved LAANC Service Suppliers up to 90 days before they plan to fly. The system now covers 542 air traffic facilities serving approximately 735 airports. LAANC also allows the agency to provide drone pilots with information and guidance on where they can and cannot fly a drone.

In 2021, the LAANC capability expanded to provide night authorizations to Part 107 Remote Pilots. U.S. drone pilots can also request airspace authorizations using the FAA DroneZone, including for areas not covered by LAANC or when the operator holds a Part 107 waiver.

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

An aerial project is taking Tahltan elders to revisit remote homelands in northwest B.C.

The Aerial Elder Interviews project is part of a knowledge gathering exercise, conducted by the Tahltan Central Government(TCG) to verify information they have in their archives from the 1980’s. (Photo: Adam Amir/Tahltan Central Government)

— Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Terrace Standard

Tahltan elder Verna Callbreath had never imagined she would see the place she was born and childhood home ever again.

Then last summer she held her hand over her heart as the helicopter lowered to give her a view of her parents’ cabin in a remote inaccessible portion of Tahltan territory in northwest British Columbia.

Now run down, eroded and captive to overgrown bushes and weeds, Callbreath and her family left behind that home and moved away in search of food and a better life when she was a teenager.

Callbreath, who now lives in Dawson Creek, was among 10 Tahltan elders treated to a helicopter ride to revisit remote locations on the traditional territory they once occupied.

The Aerial Elder Interviews project is part of a knowledge gathering exercise conducted by the Tahltan Central Government (TCG) to verify information it has in archives from the 1980s, said Sandra Marion, the director for the TCG’s Culture & Heritage Department.

“We ask our elders where they were born and grew up and it’s a very respectful process with majority of the interview guided by the elder itself because we don’t want them to feel like they’re like being interrogated while they’re out there,” she said.

The elders are given full control of what they want to share with the team said Marion, especially since there are a lot of emotions involved.

Marion’s team collaborated with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysts and relied on archives to track some of the places which may not be called the same names today or show up on Google Maps.

For instance, when Callbreath told them she lived in a place next to Fish Lake, the team’s search led them to three to four places with the same name. They verified it against archived oral information obtained through previous elder interviews and arrived at a spot near Prairie Lake that best matched the description.

“We put her [Callbreath] in a helicopter with her granddaughter and told her, if you don’t recognize it, you can come back and we’ll figure it out,” Marion explained.

Luckily for Callbreath, it was the right place.

The purpose of the project is to build a working relationship with the elders and continue to build on it from previous work that they’ve done with them, Marion said.

So, in part, the project is about reuniting Tahltan elders with parts of the territory they haven’t been able to see or visit after leaving, she said. And secondly, it reaffirms preexisting information about Tahltan lands that encompass roughly 11 per cent of B.C.

“In this regards, we are solidifying our stories and our knowledge of areas… this strengthens the fact that we have always been here in our territory, using and occupying the land,” Marion said.

In future, this information will also aid the TCG in land use and development plans.

A long-discussed project, Marion’s team was able to finally flag it off last year thanks to a funding stream dispersed through the Tahltan Stewardship Initiative.

It was halted briefly after an uptick of COVID-19 cases in the area, but they intend to restart the program once again in summer this year.

“We’re hoping to get as many elders out onto the land as possible during our next flying season,” said Marion, adding, there are approximately 350 elders in the nation.

Canadian Council for Sustainable Aviation Fuels launches

Canadian aviation industry leaders are joining forces to create the Canadian Council for Sustainable Aviation Fuels (C-SAF), with a mission is to accelerate the use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) in Canada. In announcing its launch, C-SAF states sustainable aviation fuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80 per cent and can be used now without significant modifications to aircraft or supply infrastructure.

C-SAF has been created by a consortium of 60 airlines operating in Canada and comprised of key stakeholders in the Canadian aviation ecosystem including suppliers, aerospace manufacturers, airports, finance, and academia. The council is also focused on facilitating the production and supply of affordable, low-carbon, made-in-Canada SAF.

C-SAF also aims to serve as the voice of its members with governments and stakeholders to develop a strategy and roadmap for a profitable and sustainable SAF market in Canada.

“Decarbonizing Canadian aviation requires collaboration between industry, governments, scientists and airlines. The C-SAF provides a space for a common dialogue to facilitate the exchange of ideas to reduce GHG emissions from aviation and we strongly believe that with everyone working together, change can happen faster,” said Geoff Tauvette, Executive Director of the C-SAF.

C-SAF explains aviation will be one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonize as electric and hydrogen technologies are still in development, requiring the establishment of a SAF supply chain to accelerate commercialization.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) on Feb. 23 announced it is playing a leadership role as a launch member of C-SAF. Other major industry players to have committed to this new initiative include Air Canada, Air Transat, Shell Aviation, Airbus and Bombardier, among others.

“The GTAA is focused on rebuilding the air travel experience by creating the airport of the future – one that is healthier, more innovative, greener and more effective,” said Deborah Flint, President and CEO, GTAA. “Sustainable aviation fuels will play an important role in achieving that objective, and the C-SAF, in turn, will help guide industry by helping to establish a sustainable aviation fuel value chain to accelerate its commercialization and widespread use.”

(Photo: Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation pour les photos, C-SAF)

Kneehill County council approves rules for drones over public lands

— By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review

Kneehill County council approved a new policy for controlling drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) over municipal property. The decision was made at the Feb. 8 regular meeting of council.

Shelby Sherwick, manager of parks and agricultural services, presented to councillors the proposed Policy 12-5 to set some rules out for the use of UAVs over property owned by Kneehill County. Sherwick noted in her memo to council drones are becoming more common in the county.

“In recent years there has been an increase in unauthorized recreational drone use at Kneehill County parks sites, as well as an increase in requests for permission to fly drones over Kneehill County public lands for the commercial purposes of filming and photography,” stated Sherwick in her memo.

She noted that currently Kneehill County has drones mentioned in one bylaw, the Parks and Open Spaces Bylaw, which states, “While in a park or open space area, no person shall, except in an area designated for that purpose or unless prior written approval has been obtained by the Chief Administrative Officer or designate…Set off, launch, or operate any Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, glider or hot air balloon, any rocket, missile, or any dangerous objects on, to or across a park or open space area.”

Sherwick also noted Kneehill County has substantial fines for anyone convicted of the above offences.

“The penalty for setting off, launching, or discharging any unauthorized things in a park or open space area…is $500 for first offence, $1,000 for second offence, and $2,000 for third offence,” she stated in her report.

“Currently, the Kneehill County Planning and Parks departments work together on drone permissions, fielding inquiries and confirming proof of certification.

“Having a drone policy in place will ensure consistency and further formalize this process and ensure safety and a positive visitor experience for visitors to Kneehill County owned public lands.

“Benefits of restricting drone flight on public lands: safety and privacy of visitors is protected, reduction of impacts from drones on visitor experience or natural areas, liability and risk management is addressed by ensuring that drone pilots carry appropriate licensing and insurance.”

Drone operation is regulated by Transport Canada and according to their website, “Drone pilots must carry a valid drone pilot certificate at all times while operating their drone. A valid drone pilot certificate is a printed or electronic document issued by Transport Canada. No other form of certification will be accepted.”

During discussion of the proposed policy Reeve Jerry Wittstock clarified that the policy only applies to Kneehill County public lands, which Sherwick also clarified. She noted the policy doesn’t apply to the airspace over private property, which requires the permission of the property owner.

Councillors unanimously approved the drone policy.

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Canada outlines ADS-B timeline, beginning with Class A and B

Canada announced plans to implement a new mandate that will require aircraft operators flying in certain domestic airspace to meet Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) Out Performance Requirements.

“ADS-B is a foundational building block for our future airspace and operations,” said Raymond Bohn, President and CEO of NAV CANADA. “The Canadian equipage mandate − when combined with NAV CANADA’s space-based surveillance capabilities − will enhance safety and service.”

The mandate will come into effect in Class A and B Canadian airspace above 12,500 feet on February 23, 2023. NAV CANADA explains future implementation of a mandate in areas within Class C, D and E will leverage a phased approach. Aircraft operators and owners, continues NAV CANADA will have adequate time to meet the equipage requirements to use space-based ADS-B technology across the country. Implementation in these classes of airspace are to occur no sooner than 2026.

NAV CANADA explains space-based ADS-B is already being used and delivering safety and efficiency benefits to suitably equipped aircraft over Hudson Bay, the North Atlantic and in domestic airspace above 29,000 feet in Canada. In December 2021, NAV CANADA began providing service to appropriately equipped aircraft below 29,000 feet in the Montreal Flight Information Region and plans to expand to the Edmonton and Winnipeg Flight Information Regions later this year, prior to the mandate going into effect in 2023.

To meet the ADS-B out mandate, aircraft will be required to:

• Be equipped with an appropriate transponder with ADS-B out capabilities and performance with the applicable standard of Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) DO-260B, “Minimum Operational Performance Standards”, or newer.
• Have antenna capability for broadcast toward space-based ADS-B receivers emitting 1090 MHz extended squitter. This requirement can be met either through antenna diversity (the use of a top and bottom antenna) or with a single antenna that is capable of transmitting both towards the ground and up towards satellites.

To learn more about the safety and efficiency benefits being realized through the use of space-based ADS-B and the requirements for equipage please visit NAV CANADA’s website.

(Image: Aireon)