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President’s Corner – March 2016

COPA’s lead in team effort: U.S. Territory Overflight Issue Resolution

On December 11 and 14 this past year and at the request of the American Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued three high-impact NOTAMs. Yes, high-impact for Canadian aviators, in the sense that they essentially prevented Canadian general aviation and business aircraft from overflying any part of U.S. airspace to reach another Canadian destination, without having special TSA-issued security waiver for everyone in the aircraft. That meant for example, no more direct flights from Montreal to Moncton or Halifax, Vancouver to Victoria and making it almost impossible to do circuits at Abbotsford and other close border airports like it. The issue made these flights a lot more expensive, longer and in some cases, downright impossible.

We were not aware of these NOTAMs until being alerted by one of our members on New Year’s Eve. COPA immediately took action and we contacted our International Aircraft and Owners Pilots Association (IAOPA) and AOPA partners about this. Needless to say they were just as surprised as we were. What came back was that this was a mistake, that someone had taken broader strokes than intended. But how do you fix a “mistake” within some of the biggest bureaucracies around (TSA, FAA), with who we have no direct contact nor influence?

With our friends at IAOPA we managed to get the ball rolling and quickly got a draft amendment of the NOTAMS within a day or two. The subsequent 15 days meant constant discussions between us and IAOPA, AOPA, Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA), Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC), Transport Canada and even the TSA. During the final call with TSA (January 15), COPA received the assurance that they and FAA would follow the established protocol with TC and other impacted groups for changes such as those. The amended NOTAMS were issued late that Friday evening.

The collaborative effort I witnessed on both sides of the border made me proud of the way we handled the situation as a bigger team, and I think we can put this in the victory list for COPA.

COPA Changes

Every once in a while, we have to look at ourselves and see if we are still doing the right thing, if we are on track with our set goals. Or do we even have the same goals? A new President usually means a few changes and yes, there are some coming at COPA. We are working on reviewing some of our strategic initiatives, our priorities and what you want out of your association. A heads-up that some of you may be contacted to answer a survey and I thank you in advance for the time you will take to do so.

Board Elections

In this issue you will find all the members that are running for a position on the board of directors. These representatives are the voice for your region, they are your channel to the way COPA delivers its services.

At the same time, you will notice some of the directors are not running again. I wish to thank them for all of their work and really, their devotion to COPA. I met these directors during my recruitment process and have grown fond of them, of their wisdom and their knowledge. They have left a profound mark at COPA and their implication will be missed. In alphabetical order, Trekker Armstrong (AB), Earl Kickley (SK) and Jerry Roehr (MB). Gentlemen, thank you.

Now dear members, what more can I say than: to your computers and vote!

President’s Corner – February 2016

Aerodromes – How Fragile They Are

It’s a never-ending story, it just keeps repeating itself. Protecting our freedom to fly also means protecting our landing strips, protecting our aerodromes.  It is part of our role, yours and mine, to keep these aerodromes alive and well.

As I wrote last November, I strongly suggest that whenever an event is held at your airport, such as COPA For Kids, a fly-in or some other public activity, an invitation is extended to your local Chamber of Commerce people, the elected officials, and the media to witness the benefits of a local airport.

If you can have a say in choosing your airport manger, do get involved and choose someone that has some aviation experience, not just a financial background. Managing an airport takes a broad, medium to long term aviation-minded vision: if someone is solely interested in turning a profit for the airport year-in, year-out, let them go work for a bank.

An aerodrome is a regional development tool, a revenue generating economic engine for an area, a link from your community to the rest of the world. For those who have never heard it before, “One kilometre of highway takes you one kilometre, but one kilometre of runway takes you anywhere!

Some may do simple math by looking at direct operating costs of an aerodrome and dividing this over the number of taxpayers. Once you start hearing this type of thinking, start worrying about your aerodrome and get to work. Why not help these people see it differently, see the bigger picture?

Let them know how much more revenue is coming in than what is perceived. Get an economic impact assessment study done and if you need help, there are well known businesses that do just that.

There is also a whole section on our website, “Flying in Canada” – “GA Airports – Economic impact” which can also help you.  You will find economic impacts for different airports that you may find similar to yours.  You will also see our brochure: “Your Community Airport – An Aviation Gateway” that you can download, forward or print.

Yarmouth (NS)

Are there forward-looking leaders out there? Yes. Let’s congratulate the folks in Yarmouth, where we will also hold our next AGM! This was the headline on the Vanguard January 6 website: “Municipal units eye Yarmouth airport infrastructure improvements as a top regional capital priority” The article written by Tina Comeau says “…increase utilization of the airport facility is seen as a way to spur economic growth and potentially attract new business and industry. The airport infrastructure is seen as an asset to the region.”

Neuville (QC)

Quick recap of Neuville (CNV9) airport situation: the City of Neuville brought CNV9 to court for not having asked for a permit to move more than 15 cubic metres of soil for “aeronautics” purposes, a by-law they passed specifically for that.  In December 2014, the municipal judge sided with CNV9.  The city appealed, after which CNV9 asked for some support with our Freedom to Fly Fund.  Well, the appeal was heard in Superior Court and the January 7 judgement came out  in favour of CNV9!  This is the fourth time CNV9 goes to court, the fourth time they win, with the Supreme Court COPA judgements ([2010] 2 S.C.R. 536 and S.C.R. 453) often being cited.  These wins are building jurisprudence for the rest of the nation.  Hats-off to the developers for their courage and tenacity!

Pickering (ON)

With Cheryl Marek, one of our Southern Ontario directors, I had the opportunity to meet with the special consultant to the government (Dr. Gary Polonsky), to present our view as to why there should be an airport in Pickering.

For the last 50 years, the land, owned by Transport Canada, has been reserved and waiting for the airport. Now with Buttonville airport shutting down, it should be a no-brainer to set this new one up.  But no, the fate of an airport at Pickering is still precarious.  Because a loud, vocal minority tells their elected officials they don’t want it.

How about we tell them we want the airport and all it brings? Please see our “Take Action” page on our website for a sample letter and to get the coordinates of your member of parliament.

Grand Cache (AB)

We also lost one. Grand Cache (CEQ5) airport was shut down January first by the municipality.  I was informed of the situation by a non-member who turned to COPA for help after the fact, when it was already too late to help or do something.  We can read the history of its demise on the town’s website ( No comment.

Your Aerodrome (Ca)

It would be nice to hear stories about how your airport is thriving, how the leaders are seeing it and what they are doing. This year, COPA will put more effort into helping you protect and showcase your aerodrome.  Share your good news by writing to us at and tell us about Your Aerodrome (Ca).

Women of Aviation Worldwide Week – March 7 – 13

Coming up during the week of March 7, 2016, there is a worldwide initiative going on. For every one of these women that will get a free or paid introductory flight, COPA will also provide them with an e-membership, entitling them to receive e-flight and access to the members-only section of the website.  Those who also want to sign up as COPA members, will be eligible for our membership drive prize for 2016, a beautiful women’s Breitling COLT watch.

On a final note

As a national association, COPA has finally officialised its French name with Industry Canada: l’Association canadienne des propriétaires et pilotes d’aéronefs.   Either the English or French name can be used officially.

President’s Corner – January 2016

Space-based ADS-B… the future for general aviation in Canada?

At some point last fall, I saw a presentation for the Aireon satellite flight-tracking system. This system uses Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology.  Ok, so Transport Canada has not mandated any use of ADS-B.  Yet.  But just about all the rest of the world is planning to use it.  It’s a question of time before ADS-B is introduced into the country, at what level, where and when, I couldn’t tell.  But it’s a bit like the metric system that made its way around the vast majority of the globe.

The presentation was done by Nav Canada. They are the major partner in Aireon.  One of the services offered is the Aircraft Locating and Emergency Response Tracking (ALERT).  Taken from the website: “Aireon ALERT will be the only solution that has a true global coverage including oceanic, polar and remote airspace and will provide GPS location and real-tie tracking data to assist rescue coordination centers in emergency situations.

The goal of this satellite-based service is to put an end to not finding aircraft anymore, such as Malaysia Airlines’ MH370 or other airplanes that were not found. By the way, MH370 had four 406MHz Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT) on board, and no signal was received from any of them. Nothing at all.  And we have yet to find anything, after thousands of hours and millions of dollars spent on the search.  See where I’m going with this?  Seeing this technology emerge and to soon become reality is encouraging.  I told myself that if this could be done for commercial aircraft around the world, what’s preventing it from being applied to private or general aviation?  In our response to the Notice of Proposed Amendment 2015-013 mandating 406 ELTs, we suggest using a performance-based approach and not a prescriptive one.  In fact, a section of our recommendation #5 states: “Encouraging and using commercial services for alerting is better than requiring one specific technology that may grow outdated as technology progresses”.   This is exactly it!

Right now, it’s a technical race between something that arbitrarily works (ELTs) and something that will most always work as long as your ADS-B transponder transmits, and give you a much better chance of being found should something happen. Of course the technology needs to be refined for our aircraft, for our use and a little more work needs to be done.  The system will be in place in 2018 for the airliners and perhaps commercial aircraft that move in the flight levels and it is a great opportunity to keep a close eye on the ongoing developments to see how we can get to this performance-based approach for our members and pilots.

In the meantime, we still encourage everyone to use an ELT, personal locator beacons or any other means such as portable devices for alerting search and rescue.

The future of our freedom to fly is in your hands

In this month’s Plane Talk , Tim Cole addresses an important issue, for which we cannot say enough.  Tim talks about BC and Yukon, but it applies to all of the country.  And it is recurring.  In June 2015, Tim also wrote on a similar subject, that airports are also a community of their own, like a family: “…it takes hard work, a willingness from all stakeholders, support from the community and good leadership to make a successful airport”

Along those lines, in my November 2015 column I wrote: “I strongly suggest that whenever an event is held at your airport, such as COPA for kids, a fly-in or some other public activity, an invitation is extended to your local Chamber of Commerce people, the elected officials, and the media to witness the benefits of a local airport.”

Preserving our freedom to fly starts with preserving our aerodromes and our airports.

Coming up in 2016

We will be doing our survey, where we will poll a significant number of members, to get your feeling as to what’s good and not so good for your association. Also look for new and exciting news for COPA, new advertisers, special features in our paper, some major work on our website.

Happy new year!