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.