Category Archives: President’s Corner

President’s Corner – December 2017

Forget About Flying High When You’re High

The message was clear from Transport Canada (TC) medical authorities and regulators during a presentation at the last Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC) convention in Montreal early November. Even though marijuana will be legal in mid 2018, it will still be illegal to fly with any level of tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC, the active substance) in the blood. None, zero, not even for recreational use. If a pilot were to be randomly tested and THC was found in his system, his license could be revoked for as long as it takes for all traces to be out of his system, time yet unknown, since it will depend on so many factors like his metabolism, THC concentration of what was consumed, etc. The underlying message is if you want to keep our wings, best rely on engine power to get high.

TC Language Testing Reform

Alleluia! After so many official and unofficial complaints, frustrations, near misses, incidents, go-arounds and possibly accidents, TC is finally reviewing the way language tests will be administered for pilots. As many of us are aware, mastery of either one of Canada’s official languages is not a given to some foreign students coming into the country for training. In fact, in some cases it is nowhere close to a functional level and that is a major safety issue, making us wonder how some of these students without basic understanding of aviation phraseology can feel safe up there. Not formalized or complete yet, the plan is for TC to stop testing individuals that have a degree (High School, College, etc.) in one of our official Canadian languages, but doing more exhaustive conversational testing with all foreign applicants instead of some other objective form which may have made it too easy, even conducive to knowing the answers ahead of the test. We will follow-up with TC authorities about the details and will keep you updated. Keep an eye on our E-Flight or our magazine.

COPA Convention And Fall Fly-In Coming Every Year.

Building on the success of our Kelowna convention last June and as requests from members over the years, we are hard at work in establishing yearly east and west conventions and trade-show, so there will always be something in your part of the country, every year. A spring convention with the AGM and a Fall Fly-in for the fun of it is the formula being looked at. Our big country allows for some general aviation fun in any part of the country more than just once a year.

Freedom to Fly Fund

Please be generous and help us help you in supporting our mission and replenishing the Freedom to Fly Fund. Don’t forget that for every 100$ you get a chance to win a beautiful Breitling Colt watch.

Season’s Greetings to all and as always, send comments to bgervais@copanational.org.





President’s Corner – November 2017

What the Freedom to Fly Fund does
Come in For a Safe Landing
When a member from Stayner aerodrome (ON) asked for some help with the Freedom to Fly Fund (FFF), we looked at the potential impact on our mission of advancing, promoting and preserving the Canadian freedom to fly. It was of national importance. In a recent e-Flight (our weekly newsletter) and in the media, you may have seen that the that the company proposing to put up eight wind turbines in the flight paths for Collingwood and Stayner Airports in southern Ontario has abandoned the project. It is now confirmed by the company itself, WPD, that they will not pursue with the controversial development. This comes after the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal revoked the approval to proceed, saying WPD Canada’s plans for these 150-metre towers turbines on the immediate outskirts of the aerodromes and in close proximity to the runways would pose serious harm to human health.

The fund was used in a way to make sure we were going to present the best case. After much research and preparation, COPA Counsel Glenn Grenier and Southern Ontario Director Conrad Hatcher directed a vigorous legal opposition to a plan and their intervention appears to have been a significant factor, instrumental in the tribunal’s decision to pull the approval as their submissions were extensively referenced. And so was Transport Canada’s TP1247 document, “Land Use in the Vicinity of Aerodromes” which spells out best practices that proponents should follow. COPA is entirely for green energies and is even looking to work hand in hand with developers, but not when towers are right next to the runway.

The fund is always used for matters of national importance across the country and will serve everyone in the short, medium and long term. Please be generous and help us help you in supporting our mission and replenishing the fund. And for every 100$ you get a chance to win a beautiful Breitling Colt watch.

Recreational drones here and there are what we, as aviators mostly get to hear about, but they are just a fraction of what’s out there and being done. A few weeks ago, I was at an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) industry symposium about Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) called “Drone Enable”. Industries, universities and think tanks are developing UAS Traffic Management (UTM) systems where all that flies will cohabitate. At least in theory… The technology is advancing at a pace most regulators have trouble keeping up with, which is a major challenge. This is why ICAO has setup what it calls the ICAO-UAS Advisory group, as a facilitator to help its member states in harmonizing definitions, human procedures, spectrum and training. Presentations by Thales, Amazon and others were really on the verge of science fiction. Have a look at https://www.d-flight.it/en or just Google UTM. An article about the symposium will follow soon. As always, comments to bgervais@copanational.org.





President’s Corner – October 2017

COPA’s Got Talent
What Can You Do For Your Association?

Whenever I meet our members, we inevitably get into a discussion of ideas and priorities of issues affecting aviation. I love these conversations because they allow us to take the pulse of what’s important to you and oftentimes point things out that we may not always be aware of at the Ottawa office.

What concerns me is when a somewhat accusatory finger gets pointed at us (or mainly me) with a “COPA should” or “you guys are not doing enough about” or another classic: “but AOPA and EAA in the States”. We would love to be able to answer all of your questions and address all of the issues that concern us here in Canada, but with our limited aviation staff, we need to prioritize. And if we want to compare to these great associations to the south of us, they have about thirty or more times our budget and staff for about twenty times our membership. And other than general information and nice magazines, are they really doing something or advocating for members here in Canada? No. Absolutely not, only COPA does. COPA and you.

You, because COPA has a broad range of talent within its membership and a lot of it is untapped. We are reaching out to all of our members in search of knowledgeable folks that can, from time to time, provide guidance, advice and assist COPA with its member services. This can range from answering questions or giving opinions to full-fledged participation in committees or focus groups where your expertise can benefit all of our membership. For example, we have had help in information technology for the web site, environmental questions, medical questions and insurance just to name a few. All of this is coordinated through the head office and the help of other professionals or board members. Only we can do it best for ourselves and we’re counting on you.

The Magazine
Are there safety experts, mechanics, instructors or others in different areas of interest that wan to share in written format? Opinions, points and counterpoints or some other analysis? A page or just a bit more, we’d like to have some in-depth look at various subjects. For example, following its investigation (A15Q0120) into the fatal floatplane crash that occurred in August 2015 near Tadoussac, Quebec, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is recommending that Transport Canada require all commercially operated de Havilland DHC-2 (Beaver) aircraft be equipped with a stall warning system. Have we got a point and a counterpoint on the subject or any other that would be worth sharing? Even a philosophical view of what it is to have such a freedom to fly in Canada. It’s all yours. Contact me at bgervais@copanational.org.

President’s Corner – September 2017

Late July was the annual biggest general aviation (GA) gathering in the world, at Oshkosh Wisconsin. COPA was there at EAA’s Air Venture and like the two previous years, held an event for all Canadian pilots to sit down and meet over some food and drinks. Thanks to our partners Magnes, AIG and McLarens, almost 300 enjoyed the cool break during the scorching summer heat. We plan to host a similar event next year and for those who attended, please feel free to send us your comments and suggestions.

ATC Privatization In The United States — Alternate Facts Also Coming To GA ?
But while at Oshkosh, it was the big moment for the GA groups down south (AOPA, EAA, NBAA) to push their initiative against the privatization of air navigation services (ANS), something quite similar to Nav Canada. At some point, AOPA media were at the Oshkosh International Tent looking for Canadian pilots who can attest to the decline of GA that ANS privatization has brought to our country. They point the finger at potential privatization for the landing fees at larger airports, safety threats to busy airspace, the lack of smaller airport funding, death of GA, more taxes for the general public and many other issues that depend almost entirely on the individual political systems in place, not on ANS privatization. Since they often cite what happened in Canada as the reference NOT to follow, it was an opportunity for me to talk with AOPA senior officials and set some facts straight and inform them of our reality, since they had not consulted with us before citing Canadian opinions and mentioning our name. The errors were corrected. Needless to say in their quest for disgruntled Canadian pilots, they were met with raised eyebrows and not raised hands.

COPA @ Work
Some interesting activities for us this fall. As mentioned last month in this column and on our website, COPA will be continuing to work with Transport Canada on the 10 year propeller overhaul. We will also be working on COPA’s comments to the proposed Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) regulations changes that were proposed in Canada Gazette 1 on July 15 (http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rppr/ p1/2017/2017-07-15/pdf/g1-15128.pdf), with some of our subject matter experts. Feel free to send us your comments or opinions on any of this work here: bgervais@ copanational.org.

COPA Flights consultation
In keeping with the ongoing work to empower and involve the local COPA Flights as the focal point for our members around the country, we will be holding several COPA Flights consultations starting with the Maritimes in Moncton (NB) on September 16th, then possibly Kitchener (ON) in October, followed by Moose Jaw (SK) November 3rd. The goal of these meetings is really to “consult”, to listen to you, hear back from you, share our principles and see how we can build a stronger, more cohesive organization around the country, all the while acting for what’s best for our members in every corner of the land.

President’s Corner – July 2017

Turning Another Page

Looking Back On Year 2

It has already been two years since the board gave me the mandate to lead the organization. I must admit that the honour and privilege of doing so increases every day. Year two has seen our strategic plan take form as we reach the objectives we had given ourselves. We have revamped our web site and made it more user-friendly; have taken on a larger presence on social media and have started the consultation with our COPA Flights (see below). Our proudest achievement this year is the release of the Economic Impact Study of General Aviation in Canada which we will use to demonstrate our economic value. The study is on our website for distribution, and I invite you to read the article on that subject for more details. Oh, and in case you didn’t notice, we also changed the logo… See the article elsewhere in this COPA Flight.

Major Success at Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM)

Many of our members’ concerns are related to the areas from where they take off or land, their aerodromes or airports. We have long been aware of this while defending our members when in fact, it is their aerodromes that we are trying to save.  So with that thought in mind, COPA took a booth at the FCM Convention in Ottawa on June 2-3 of this year.  Knowing the FCM has members that represent over 90% of all Canadian citizens, it was the right place to introduce ourselves and raise awareness of the value of GA and community airports. Our main purpose was to inform them of the necessity of these places to fly and we had a chance to meet and greet many elected officials from across the country.  Surprisingly, several were COPA members and took little convincing but many did not know and were quite impressed of the impact and benefits of GA.  They enjoyed seeing their airport or their community through our Places to Fly page that we had on display at the booth, and we gave all of the visitors an electronic copy of our COPA Economic Impact study.

COPA Flights

We had the opportunity to meet with several COPA Flights near Ottawa and in the Vancouver area, for frank and open discussions on the roles and expectations of the Flights and COPA itself. We will be holding a few more consultations later this fall before we report on the next steps and action plan.

COPA At Work

Requirements for complete propeller overhauls every 10 years are sometimes burdensome, expensive, and are we sure they measurably increase safety? COPA is compiling data to support a request for changes to the CARs which would align requirements for propeller overhauls with those for piston engines in non-commercial operations – to be allowed to operate “on condition,” subject to any applicable airworthiness directives. Follow the news in our E-News and on our website.

President’s Corner – June 2017

Last May 9, I was invited to the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport in Ontario for the launch of a new initiative, the Southern Ontario Airport Network (SOAN).

In a nutshell, a group of eleven airports is networking to better serve the community and the growing demand for air travel through the Southern Ontario area, defining and developing a major hub as has been done in New York or London (UK), for example. I sense a clear vision and approach, diametrically opposed to the failed Montreal Dorval-Mirabel — often called Miserabel — hub that never took off and died. SOAN is looking at a 30-year horizon and getting ready for it right now. Since this is mainly about scheduled passengers, airlines, regional airlines and transport, why should I be concerned enough to write about such an initiative? First of all, we need to applaud the vision, the actions taken on the foresight based on local facts and what has been done around the world. And on a personal basis, I like the “let’s network” approach instead of the “follow-me” approach Pearson (CYYZ) could have taken on their own. But the main reason that we, COPA and our sister associations should be interested, is the fact that general aviation is an integral part of the development and the success of the new hub. There is recognition of GA’s contribution and its necessity, all spelled out in the project’s white paper. The long term goal in 15 to 30 years is that “General aviation activity has grown throughout the network and the resultant labour needs are being supported”. The SOAN seems to recognize that GA is the basis of the system. While at the presentation, it was great to hear many of the stakeholders coming back to the importance of GA, that these airports as critical to our sector of aviation and the future of the greater air travel sector. For some reason, I feel this is the closest we have ever been to a general aviation policy in the country, and it comes from the private sector. More details can be found here: https://www.soairportnetwork.com

COPA Flights Consultation
As I write these lines, I can proudly say we have started our COPA Flights consultation exercise. Right now a pilot project, we went out to two regions and met with around twenty-five captains and co-captains, exchanging on various subjects. The sessions will absolutely be beneficial to COPA. Carter Mann, your Manager of Govt. Affairs and Communications, will be writing something up in the next few weeks.

Another Mid-Summer Surprise Next Month!
Remember last July, as we went from a newspaper to a magazine? It was a big surprise that cut the cost of publishing in half (so we can do more with our finances, providing more aviation services in line with our mission) and brought us in the twenty-first century? Well this year, we are coming up with yet another major surprise in July, which will be unveiled at the Thursday night BBQ of our convention in Kelowna. Big stuff. You should really be there…really. It’s big, really big. But on top of that, in Kelowna you can expect major announcements from Transport Canada senior executives, a presentation of our GA Economic Impact Study and much much more. Yup you should really be there! www.copaagm2017.ca

President Corner – May 2017

Spring is in the air

Stretch your wings

I like to write about this every spring, it’s a secret recipe that I really don’t want to be kept secret. I’m talking about the best rust remover at the best price you will ever find: go up and fly with an instructor or a check pilot that will stretch your wings, to try the things you wouldn’t really do on your own anymore: a high-wing or a power-off stall; crosswind landings; a tight base to final (at safe altitude), anything to stretch your comfort zone which can sometimes get smaller and smaller as we fly less during the winter months. I guarantee you will walk away with a sense of accomplishment. And maybe even a few beads of sweat on your forehead. Invest in yourself, not just your airplane.

Web Site

Have you seen the completely revamped Places to Fly or the COPA Flights sections on our website? We have received a lot of positive comments and there is still some tweaking being done. Newer material will be coming out soon and if you have images or videos you would like to share, just send them our way they may find their way on the site for all to see and enjoy.

One of the most interesting features of our new website is the ease with which we can update the material and the multiplatform capability: website, Facebook and our newsletter. We have divided the site into sections which we hope you will find intuitive and this is why you should go back often to look for the latest news items or stories. We strongly encourage you to give us your feedback.


Once again this year, we will be at Oshkosh for the great Canadian Cook-out, thanks to Magnes and AIG, where all Canadian pilots are invited to gather under the tent. There will be many door prizes, food and drinks for everyone to enjoy. Just go to our events page on the website to see the details.

Special announcement at the COPA Convention in Kelowna, BC June 23-24.

We are very proud that Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) has approached COPA to work together on a General Aviation Safety Campaign, which we will launch during the convention in June. We are well aware that regulations are not the only form of promoting safety. Experience and research indicate that optimal results in terms of increasing safety practices can best be achieved by combining broad promotion efforts with well-targeted objectives. Safety collaboration activities between the regulator and industry are sometimes more successful than going through the sole regulatory compliance route, as well as being less costly for all of us.  Watch out for the announcement!

Economic impact of general aviation

As I write these lines, we are in the final revisions of a study we commissioned late last year, to give us the big picture of the economic impact of general aviation in Canada. We will make this impressive study publicly available as soon as it is completed in the next few weeks.

President’s Corner – April 2017

New website and digital media

Our new website (copanational.org) is up and running since April 1st. You’ll find all the stuff we had and much more, with a more modern and pleasant format. Plenty of information and reasons to come back often. A space to share the passion and our mission of advancing, promoting and preserving our Canadian freedom to fly. Also, don’t miss our Facebook page which is now THE page for events and aviation news in the country. Make sure you go to https://www.facebook.com/COPAnational/ and like the page.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B)

We know what’s going on down south of the border but what’s the future like for us here? In our discussions with Transport Canada, it was made very clear that there is NO plan for any ADS-B for in the near future, certainly not for general aviation. But obviously since the whole world seems to be going to ADS-B, the question is not if but when will this hit us and to what extent. For our members, nothing within the next ten to twelve years at least if not more, and it would most likely be space-based (antenna on top). As some of you may know, there is already ADS-B in the country but it is strictly as an added service to the major carriers. Meanwhile Nav Canada is looking at defining the ADS-B mandate and COPA, as well as other industry partners, are working with them on the preliminary work, on the scope of ADS-B in Canada. COPA will keep you informed though our different communications media.

If you want to read-up on ADS-B, there was an excellent three-part article published in COPA Flight last year from April – June 2016.

Gone to the COPA Convention in Kelowna, BC June 23-24!

This is the biggest Canadian aviation event of the year. You’ve got to be there in this bucolic area. Great weather, beautiful country, freedom to fly… what more could you ask? Plan an evening of fun with friends, while enjoying the Okanagan Valley wines. Why not start planning your fly-outs from the Maritimes and pick members up as you move your way westward? Give us a call or get inspired by going to http://copaagm2017.ca.

COPA Flights meetings & orientation seminars

We’re finally getting to it: the initiative of meeting you the members through our COPA Flights. In the next few months, two pilot projects will take place in the Ottawa and BC regions, where several local Flight Captains will be invited to share with our staff on our mission statement, local activities, success stories, COPA’s work, communications, how Flights can be empowered to play an active COPA role in their communities and much more. Feedback of this preliminary work will be given at the convention.

Graphic design work help wanted.

Any graphics designer firms out there amongst our members, willing to give us a hand and have a chance to do some ground-breaking work for COPA? Give me call or write to me: bgervais@copanational.org.


President’s Corner – March 2017

Freedom to Fly and COPA members at work

Update on Windmills, Mascouche.


It appears the windmill issue surrounding the Collingwood and Stayner airfields is over as far as aviation is concerned, but some other things with wings will get a more thorough hearing.

As you may recall, last spring, COPA, through the member-funded Freedom to Fly Fund, intervened in the appeal of a decision of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (“MOECC”) to approve the construction of an eight turbine wind farm next to the Collingwood Regional (CNY3) and Stayner, Clearview Field (CLV2) airfields. A team lead by COPA’s counsel, Glenn Grenier and COPA Director, Conrad Hatcher, prepared and participated in the two week hearing before the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal (“ERT”) and made extensive oral and written submissions on the threat posed by the turbines to aircraft using the aerodromes. On October 7, 2016, the ERT ruled the proposed project did indeed represent a “serious threat to human health”, which is the statutory test that had to be met to challenge the MOECC approval of the project. The ERT also found that all of the proposed mitigation measures would not be effective in reducing the hazard. In rendering its 83-page decision, the ERT quoted extensively from materials provided by COPA. Along with being a threat to human life, the proposed turbines would also constitute “serious and irreversible harm to animal life”, in particular, the little brown bat. Because mitigation measures concerning our winged friends had not been extensively canvassed during the initial hearing, the ERT directed that a second ‘remedies hearing’ be held to do so, for which it confirmed it will strictly address the bats issue and not aviation. Thus, on the aviation side, it appears the matter is at an end. The ERT will make its final order in respect of the entire project after the remedies hearing concerning bats is held, which is scheduled for early March, 2017.

You’ll be glad to know that COPA is presently building the relationship with the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), along with Transport Canada, hoping that through cooperation and collaboration we can work towards preventing future issues such as this one,

Mascouche QC (CSK3, COPA Flight 71) saga

VF1 – (First paragraph to go to print before knowing the decision of the court)

The city of Mascouche is continuing its legal battle against its relocated aerodrome under construction there even though the law is clear that they have no jurisdiction.

VF2 – (First paragraph, if the Court of Appeal refuses to grant permission to appeal)

The city of Mascouche and the Attorney General of Quebec have lost their legal battle against its relocated aerodrome under construction, the law being clear that they have no jurisdiction.

VL3 – (First paragraph, if the Court of Appeal accepts permission to appeal):

The city of Mascouche is continuing its legal battle against its relocated aerodrome under construction there even though the law is clear that they have no jurisdiction.

VF1, VF2 or VF3. As you may recall, the original airport closed down and was to be relocated with official help ($3M) from the city itself.  When the developers found the lot, 2km from the original site, the city tried everything to prevent the aerodrome proponents from proceeding.  Minister Garneau forced the developers to consult (March 4, 2016).  They did – per the new aerodrome development guidelines.  Then the Minister said they could proceed (Nov. 4).  They did.  The city followed with an emergency injunction to stop them from cutting down trees where the runways would be, to respect provincial environmental regulations.  They stopped (Dec. 9).  Along with the Attorney General of Canada (AGC), they appealed and after two hearings, the injunction was finally lifted (Feb. 1, 2017), letting them proceed with site preparation for the new runways.  VL1, VL2 or VL3

VL1 – (Last paragraph to go to print before knowing the decision of the court)

Meanwhile… the city is now asking support from the province for an appeal to be heard at the Court of Appeal of Quebec, wanting to, once again, try to break the long-litigated precedence of interjurisdictional immunity of aeronautics. COPA, along with TC, are keeping a close eye on the situation.

VL2 – (Last paragraph, if the Court of Appeal refuses to grant permission to appeal):

Finally, on Feb. 10, the Court of Appeal of Quebec refused to grant permission to appeal the Superior Court judgement. Will the City of Mascouche and Attorney General of Quebec go to the Supreme Court of Canada, to be heard once more on the same subject ? I doubt it. May the new Mascouche/Terrebonne aerodrome rise from its ashes!

VL3 – (Last paragraph, if the Court of Appeal accepts permission to appeal):

Unfortunately, on Feb. 10, the Court of Appeal of Quebec accepted to grant permission to appeal the Superior Court judgement and the development is again stopped. Our taxes will once again be used to fight on a slight variation of this constitutional theme, a fight that has been fought many times, with no losses. We’re keeping the faith and COPA will be there.