Category Archives: President’s Corner


For The Love Of Flight

The Canadian aviation industry as a whole is experiencing one of the biggest challenges of its time; COVID-19. With closed borders and intensive travel restrictions, many air operators have grounded their fleets and are faced with little knowledge of when they may return to the skies.

For many budding pilots, the state of the aviation industry amid the coronavirus pandemic will make them reconsider their future career options. So how do we keep our younger generation interested in flying?

Many of the seasoned and experienced pilots will choose to take early retirement or leave aviation entirely amid the pandemic. This will mean a skill gap at the top, with an increased shortage of experienced pilots and air operators will need to work hard to plug this gap. If student pilots start training now, it will be about 2 years before they are finished, this will coincide with the economic rebound. People will want and need to fly for either personal reasons or for business.

In adversity comes opportunity. Just because you can’t get a job as a pilot right now, or maybe even in the next couple of years, doesn’t mean you should stop flying entirely. There is no better time than right now to shift our attention and focus on the fun side of flying. Because it is fun! Many of us are in this for that reason alone. This is the time to show this New Crew of pilots that even without a career in aviation, flying can be a great part of your life.

It is ever more important for COPA Flights to be the social glue that keeps young pilot minds motivated and inspired. After all, you cannot fly airplanes without flying airplanes, period.

As a thought, COPA flights can organize meet and greets, either virtual or in person with the experienced GA pilot sharing stories. Or better yet, plan a Discover GA Day at your airport. COPA Flight members are covered with additional insurance coverage for peace of mind. Your passenger will not only get to experience the fun of flight but can enroll in a free ground school, thanks to Hangaaar, thus reducing the cost initial flight training.

Let’s find new ways of doing old things as a result of these unpredictable times. Let’s reinvent the flight training model and the ingenuity to succeed and grown.

There is no denying that there is an air-travel crisis and that jobs and businesses are at stake. But there is a bigger picture, and that is the tenacity and determination of the young inspired pilot. The aviation industry has historically always recovered and I have no doubt it will overcome this major upheaval.


I have truly enjoyed “meeting” some of our members through various platforms over the last few months. Getting to know COPA’s members is one of the best parts of this job!

One such member I’ve had the privilege to briefly natter with is COPA’s very own Flying Scot, who graciously invited me to read his newly published book of the same name. Dr. Alan Hepburn (his real name) has captured in writing his incredible journey as a GA pilot, which spans over 50 years.

First let me start off by saying that I love the concept of this book. General Aviation should be filled with stories such as these, that inspire personal travel and experiences that we can all learn from. I’ll attempt a book report version (my first one since high school) to provide a review sufficient to peek your interest. I recommend without a doubt that you pick up your own copy available through www.burnstownpublishing.com.

Hepburn’s book starts by taking us through his childhood, a time when his love for aviation began and the seed of wanderlust was planted. I’m reminded of how much has changed in aviation in a mere half century and how much I miss my own personal travels!

He fills his biographical story with an abundance of hilarious tales and there’s a witty anecdote at almost every turn which is enlivening. There are plenty of pictures to go along with them which helps the reader visualize the experience.

If you are looking for a combination of captivating storytelling and practical information, this book won’t disappoint. Included in every chapter, you will find valuable information on every aspect of international flying and learn to go beyond your imagination. His time flying with Air Journey reads almost as a how-to manual but makes you want to experience his adventures in tropical, off the beaten path and sometimes communist destinations, creating new friendships all the while developing new and invaluable skills. His chronicles are making me rethink my retirement plans altogether (no time soon though).

Included at the end of the storytelling are appendix filled with information that could be contained in training material.  From Acronyms, to advice on international flying, performance-based navigation, ADS-B (we can have a chat about that) and the future of the instrument rating in Canada, this Flying Scot covers it all.

With a renewed sense of elation toward my new “career in general aviation”, I can only hope to one day have half as many adventures some of you have had. Keep the wings to the skies and the stories coming. I, for one, remain your loyal audience.


Pushing through your comfort zone

I’ve been spending some time looking through our various social media platforms and found many inspiring stories from our members. I especially enjoy watching videos of new flight experiences. It brings me back to a time when I first started flying and the early parts of my career as a bush and survey pilot where almost every day was a new experience which in turn made me a better pilot. Those were the days! But I was a commercial pilot then and that’s just what commercial pilots are taught to do. But what about GA pilots?

How far should we (I include myself this category now), as GA pilots, push our limits past our comfort zones in order to become more experienced pilots?

I read an article in Plane and Pilot entitled “Six Cool Ways to Push Your Envelope” (dated 2017), that stated once pilots have mastered their airplane and the type of flying they do, this “routine” can become precarious. It goes on to state that the more pilots stay in their comfort zone and the less they push their envelope, the more at risk they are to become overconfident and complacent. In my opinion, I find this to be a fair statement, but special considerations should be noted.

Each pilot should know where his or her own comfort zone lies prior to pushing it and this zone changes all the time. It is depended on several factors which differ from pilot to pilot. Personally, my comfort zone from my years of commercial flying is nowhere near where it is now. The main reason is that I don’t fly as much as I used to. Pushing my envelope these days consists of navigating with a GPS! Easy for some, but new to me. It’ll definitely make me a better pilot but only if I learn how to do it right.

There are things that we shouldn’t teach ourselves. Developing the new skills required to push our flight envelope in order to move past our comfort zone should certainly be one of those things. Additionally, without regular practice and challenges, our comfort zone shrinks daily, our skills deteriorate and we are vulnerable to either being overstressed or complacent. Dual flight with a competent, current instructor can rekindle the passion for flying and tune up your skills while feeling confident. Likewise, exploring new flight challenges during a flight review or adding a new rating is an excellent safety prescription for continued safety and of course fun!

My challenge, in order to push my envelope past my comfort zone is to earn my flight instructor rating. Stay tuned for that chronicle! How will you expand your own personal flight envelope, safely and confidently, in order to gain valuable experience?

President’s Corner – August 2018

What’s in a title?
Transport Canada reviewing their “Targeted Inspections”
When we got the General Aviation Safety Campaign (GASC) going last year with TC, it was agreed that a lot of the work would concentrate on doing things differently, educating, informing, finding safety-enhancing solutions but certainly not more regulations. Great. After more than a year, this goal has been maintained and progress has been made on many fronts. Measuring success is an integral part of any project or initiative but unfortunately, there is one big thing that came up that just doesn’t really work: “targeted inspections”. Unless these are actually what they sound like, perhaps a better choice of words was needed. We’re told the official goal is “to determine baseline regulatory compliance and to determine, where possible, how compliance is, or is not achieved. Results from “targeted inspections” “will be analyzed to understand how the sector generally operates and applies regulation. “Targeted Inspections” for GA are also an opportunity to inform and promote safety. Where there is non-compliance or lack of knowledge we seek to uncover why and to educate the community”.

So we all quickly found out that having “inspection” in the title was not a winner. In fact, during our convention in Saint John (NB), there was a seminar and presentation by a Senior TC official about these targeted inspections, where he tried to explain left and right how these “targeted inspections” were not “targeted”, or “inspections”, at all. The members present raised their collective eyebrows, saying they may understand the goal but why give it such a bad name?

I am pleased to say that after the Convention and the feedback we received, I have spoken with senior officials at TCCA committed to the GA Safety Campaign who have reviewed their position to make this work. Because it is already used in their regular operations and systems, “Targeted Inspections” will only be internal jargon to TC but what they will be doing and conducting with GA and our members will be known as “GA Safety Survey”. This is what will actually be communicated but mostly, that is what will be done!

I would like to thank our members for their tremendous feedback but also TCCA officials and everyone committed to making the GA Safety Campaign a collective success.


Earlier this summer, I met with Dr. Fang Liu, Secretary-General of the International Civil aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal to prepare the International AOPA meeting that will take place in Montreal from June 29th to July 3rd 2020. As a sign of the times and knowing GA is the feeder system to all of civil aviation, Dr. Liu asked us to explore solutions to the pilot shortage and the gender difference in aviation-related careers.

President’s Corner – July 2018

Space-based ADS-B

The answer to the whole 406MHz ELT debate?

When we know that a recent study conducted by the Canadian Mission Control Centre for SARSAT indicated that ELTs activate in only 38% of Canadian aircraft accidents where the aircraft sustained substantial damage (http://www.tsb.gc.ca/ENG/rapports-reports/aviation/2015/a15c0130/a15c0130.asp), we know we can’t rely on this outdated technology anymore to be rescued.

If you go back on our web site and look at my January 2016 President’s Corner, I talk about space-based ADS-B being a possible technology to help replace the ELTs. I wrote: “Encouraging and using commercial services for alerting is better than requiring one specific technology that may grow outdated as technology progresses”.

After a few years of talking about this and having COPA staff put that bug in everyone’s ear whenever possible, I am extremely glad to report that a team of people from Nav Canada and Aireon has bought into this. Along with us, Nav Canada, Transport Canada and perhaps others like DND are now seriously working on the idea of using this technology to meet search and rescue requirements. The first official presentation was done at a joint meeting on June 5th in Ottawa. As this could be developed over the next few years, ADS-B equipage prices will inevitably come down and when everything is ready, replacing your ELT may simply mean putting in an ADS-B transponder for the same price.

Aviation Career and Scholarship Guide

I hope you have leafed through last month’s first annual Career and Scholarship Guide. And that you may have shared it with some younger aviators in your area. Many copies were sent to all schools and colleges across the country and we still have few thousand copies at the office should you need some. We are getting very positive feedback from many groups and we hope this will encourage the new generation of men and women to turn to aviation-related careers. A French version will be available next year.

Online Canadian Plane Trade

As you read this, it has become a reality. After so many years of strictly being in paper or pdf format, Canadian Plane Trade has now made it in a digital, online version. We want this to be the Trade-a-Plane of Canada, the go-to place for any aviation-related classifieds. We will continue to do the paper version, but the digital version will make it a lot simpler, easier and certainly increase the value of your membership.

Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame

On June 7th, I had the honour of being at the official induction of our co-founder John Bogie into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. It was a great ceremony where I was able to witness how many people John touched and influenced, how deep COPA’s roots are in Canada’s aviation. He was a true pioneer and deserves every bit of recognition for what he has done. Rest in Peace, Mr. Bogie.



President’s Corner – June 2018

Our mission at work


Not always simple to get more people into aviation to advance and promote our passion, it takes a lot of effort and dedication. Last May 3rd, COPA was proud to be in Edmonton to witness Elevate Aviation, a national organization that started in Edmonton, receive a substantial grant from the hands of the Minister of Status of Women, the Honourable Maryam Monsef, to create a strategic plan to establish and implement ways to create economic security for women through careers in aviation. Elevate has been able to garner support from major industry partners and all are excited to partake in this project, which brings a new dimension of women in aviation by focusing on the economic security. COPA was proud to speak for all of you in endorsing this project and we certainly look forward to seeing the results in the near future. I will personally put some time into this, supporting the endeavours of the team and assuring the success of a project I firmly believe in.


Advance, Promote

In our case, we have revamped the COPA for Kids program this year, to make sure there’s something after the youngsters step out of the aircraft. Starting this year, the program is now giving all those interested 14-17 year olds a free online ground school course to get them to their PPL exam, a full-sized COPA logbook in which to track their upcoming flight hours, along with our Aviation Scholarship Guide done in partnership with Air Canada Pilots Association. We are also expanding the program to you taking youngsters up for a flight anytime in the year, not just on a COPA for kids day, giving you and the passengers a lot more flexibility. See your local COPA Flight for details.


Advance, Promote and Preserve the Canadian Freedom to Fly

In one of our e-Flights, you may have seen that last Nov. 21, COPA submitted an exemption request that “No hard time, including calendar time, for the overhaul of variable pitch propellers need be observed in the case of small aircraft with reciprocating engines in non-commercial private operation” to Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA).  Fast forward to April 2018 and we meet with TCCA, who is looking at finding supporting fact-based evidence, talking to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) as well as investigating what, in the 12-month inspections, can be done to see trends or indications of possible failure of props. COPA is ultimately looking at exempting private constant speed props from the requirement to overhaul every ten years in favour of a more cost-effective inspection that allows owners to reinvest in other safety improving equipment. Have you read about the angle of attack indicators you can readily install? Give us a call.





President’s Corner – April 2018

Safety’s success

AVGAS’ Failure

Most of you reading this will likely have seen last month’s first annual Safety Issue. We are thrilled at the level of positive feedback we received from the membership and how much many of you valued the articles and information included. One member commented to me: “it reads like a double-issue of Flying, but with articles relevant to Canada.” As we indicated, we are tying the March issue in with the General Aviation Safety Campaign and the goal is to make it an annual staple for Canadian pilots.

As we go to press, we are just under one month to go in the voting for this year’s Board of Directors elections. We have a record number of candidates running for the seven position this year and the level of interest and discussion the process has generated is an encouraging sign that the members are engaged in the organization and care about its long-term future. It is your organization and we encourage all of you who haven’t voted to do so – either online on copanational.org or by requesting a paper ballot from our office. In order to be counted, ballots must be completed and received at COPA no later than close of business, April 3.


Anyone who has turned on the news in recent weeks has likely heard about the avgas shortage affecting airports across the country. Imperial Oil discovered a batch produced after Dec. 28 had conductivity levels that are too high, causing concern for aircraft fuel gauges – particularly those of the capacitive type – and shut down production at the country’s only avgas refinery in Edmonton. Since then, Imperial Oil has conducted testing at all affected airports and determined that the majority have fuel that is safe to use. Unfortunately, they have not resumed production and so airports are now running low on existing supplies. We are aware that some are arranging to import avgas from the US, though this appears to only be possible with a significant markup in price, something that will severely curtail springtime flying. Your COPA staff in Ottawa continue to dialogue with Imperial Oil as they seek to determine the cause of the contaminated fuel. We are hopeful that a resolution will be found soon and that flying activities can get back to normal.

This incident highlights the importance of the work COPA has been partially funding fro the last few years at the National Research Council Canada to examine possible “drop-in” replacement fuels for 100LL, as a complement to the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative, or PAFI, being undertaken in the US. Canada’s direct contribution to the PAFI is the testing in radial-engine aircraft by the NRC (their Harvard Mk IV), and with their various test engines in their altitude chamber, allowing the whole fuel system to be tested at simulated altitudes. Phase 3 of the current program expects to wrap up later this year, with project conclusion estimated next year. It will then be up to the regulators in Canada and the US to approve the successful fuels for use, and for the market to select that which will enter circulation.

President’s Corner – March 2018

Safety Campaign – Learning from others

Over the past year, COPA has been working with Transport Canada (TC) on the General Aviation Safety Campaign (GASC), aimed at improving safety among GA pilots through accident data-driven new tools in areas of training, technology, and safety culture. At Oshkosh in 2017, we met representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who, for the past 20 years, have collaborated with industry in a similar fashion through the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC). Through this government/industry partnership, stakeholders come up with new, innovative Safety Enhancements to address specific issues related to GA safety. Often, these are the result of data analysis from National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports and are adopted and promoted as voluntary means to ensure safer GA aircraft. The success of this model lies in the co-participation of government and industry and, supported by accident data, pursues its objectives with the goal of regulation as a last resort. We are encouraged at TC’s willingness to adopt a similar model here in Canada, one that we hope will make it easier for GA pilots to be safer. Whether it is access to better training, easier routes to installing and using new technology in the cockpit, or encouraging each other as GA pilots to take a renewed safety-focused analysis of ourselves each time we fly.

As part of the campaign, officials at TC have reviewed Canadian accident data from TSB reports going back to 2014 and applied the standard classification categories adopted by the Commercial Aviation Safety Team/ICAO Common Taxonomy Team, known as the CICTT. Their review of the data for fatal GA accidents in that period (42) shows us that, removing unknown causes or where causes could not be determined, the top five generators of fatal accidents are Loss of Control – Inflight (11), Low Altitude Operations (3), and “System/Component Failure of Malfunction [Powerplant]” (3), otherwise known as a non-fuel-related engine failure. This March issue, which we are establishing as our annual “Safety Edition”, will focus on some of the safety topics that arise from the GA Safety Campaign or our collaboration with our American counterparts but mostly, the articles in this year’s safety edition are written by many of our Safety Campaign partners and reflect a variety of topics at the top of the priority list for the GASC across the country.

COPA’s Board of Directors

Aside from the Safety Campaign and its role in this month’s magazine, we are also excited to present the biographies of the candidates who have put themselves forward for consideration in this year’s elections for the Board of Directors. We are currently holding elections for two spots in BC and Yukon, two spots in Quebec, and three spots in Southern Ontario. Competing for those seven spots are 21 candidates – a record in our 66-year history. We sincerely thank those Board members not seeking re-election for their dedication and contributions to COPA, and we look forward to welcoming the new ideas and fresh perspectives the new board members will bring to our organization.

President’s Corner – February 2018

Pilot shortage
The second week of January saw another story come out about the shortage of pilots (January 8 CBC news: “Who’s going to fly the plane? Pilot shortage could get worse for regional carriers”). As air traffic grows somewhere around 5% to 7 % worldwide year after year, we just can’t fill the seats in the flight decks around the globe fast enough. The biggest increases occur in the Orient and South-East Asia, where year-on-year growth rates can reach over 30% (IATA Annual review, 2017). So it’s a domino effect taking place all over the world. The big airlines can’t easily fill the void, they pick on the regionals that get their pilots taken and in return the regionals recruit the instructors in flight schools. I was recently interviewed by the CBC and the message I conveyed is that GA is the feeder system to all of this, where it all starts. The individual of any age that looks up to the sky and decides to give flying a try, whether soaring, paragliding, motorized fixed or rotary wings, starts with a dream realized at the local flight school or flying club. A local FTU needs a local aerodrome and a local aerodrome needs understanding and appreciation from its operator and neighbours. As our Economic Impact Study (available on our website) explains, GA is the core of aviation and has a $9.3 billion dollar impact on the Canadian economy. Future flight instructors, corporate, regional, and airline pilots come from the same communities as any of us, but only if they have a desire to fly and an airport to go to.

To showcase our aerodromes and give a serious and well-needed taste for flying, there are plenty of opportunities we should never pass up such as our COPA for Kids events, Women of Aviation Worldwide Week coming up March 7 to 11 or what the Canadian Council for Aviation & Aerospace has done in partnering with groups and organizations like COPA to get something called the National Outreach Event going this summer, across the country.

We’ve got to keep that stream flowing before it’s too late. It’s our responsibility.

COPA at work

Propellers: A few months ago I mentioned we were asking the regulator, Transport Canada, for an exemption to the mandatory ten year propeller overhaul on non-commercial light piston operations. The paperwork  was submitted in mid-November and we expect to have an update within the next few weeks.

British Columbia hangar assessments:  Many BC members have seen their hangars reclassified as “Industrial Warehouses”, a decision that puts the buildings in the same classification as commercial storage facilities in areas such as downtown cores. There may or may not be an impact on the taxes paid in the end, but COPA is looking at the bigger picture and working on a plan to have hangar owners treated fairly by the assessment agency. More details in our E-Flight and website.


President’s Corner – January 2018

Space-based ADS-B… Take 2

Over two years after my first comments about the Aireon tracking system presentation given by Nav Canada (see President’s Corner, January 2016), the project is taking shape with more satellites going up, wonderful technology taking us out of the stone age where aircraft will be able to be seen all over the world. And even though there is still no official mandate for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out in Canada as spelled out by Transport Canada (TC), Nav Canada says there will clearly be a mandate. In fact, they are asking for feedback on their “Terms of Reference – Canadian ADS-B Out Mandate” as you read this. Pressed for an answer, TC officially says “nope”, while NC says “of course we will have ADS-B Out.” I have yet to figure this one out. Regardless, we’re in the process of looking at what’s best for us, for our members and for general aviation in the country, trying to leverage this technology above our heads as we fly across the country. I will refrain from comments or an opinion at this point.

One thing I am absolutely certain of is that this system could replace any form of Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) such as the 406MHz which TC should make mandatory for us in the near future. Several recent incidents in the past months (June 2017 in Cranbrook and this past November around Revelstoke, both in BC) have shown once again that when ELTs don’t go off, they’re just a few useless pounds in the aircraft. Our ELTs rely on an old mechanical g-switch technology, a fragile whip antenna and a wide variety of installation quality. All can be greatly surpassed by stronger sold-state devices and the antenna we already use for our transponder. Even the simple accelerometers we have in our phones can probably do a better job than the ELTs.

So as we look at a possible mandate for ADS-B out, one of our requirements is for the development of a safety feature that would replace the 406MHz ELT with as good a track record as space-based ADS-B is purported to have. Back in January 2016, I said: “What’s preventing it from being applied to private or general aviation? 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.”

General aviation is entitled to the same level of safety as the airlines and the big commercial operators. 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. And don’t forget to listen to 121.5 MHz on another radio if you have one.

COPA Flights will be consulted in the next few weeks on the ADS-B subject, as well as several others. Stay tuned for the invitation and have a safe and happy new year.