To the Letter Icon

Back to Basics : The Birds and the...Birds

With a southerly tailwind, ground speed was about 160 kt. I reduced power to 2 200 RPM and the speed settled in to about 140 kt. It was pitch black as I headed out over farmland at 8:00 p.m., and BAM...I was hit in the face. I could feel the air hitting me, there was a high noise level, and I couldn’t see. The panel was a white blur, and I could barely make out the difference between the light panel and the dark instruments. It took 4 or 5 seconds as I ran down the list of alternatives and realized I had just had a bird strike. I called approach control and reported the bird strike along with the hole in the aircraft. It was about 2 ft wide and a foot tall in the windscreen, centered on my face. I’m sure my voice was pitched a mite higher than normal. The approach controller gave me an immediate vector to 140° to intercept the localizer.

The description above is a true story, as told by the pilot. Terry Johnson was hit in the face by windshield debris and the remains of a lesser scaup-a 1.5-lb diving duck. Terry succeeded in completing a successful landing in his Van’s Aircraft RV-6, but the incident could have been much more serious, had Terry been blinded, or had he hit a larger bird such as a Canada goose, at 15 lbs.

In 2004, there were 15 percent more bird/wildlife strikes reported to Transport Canada than there were in 2003. Given the increasing population of urban-adaptable wildlife-such as ring-billed gulls, Canada geese, cormorants and white-tailed deer-this increase in strikes is not a surprise. We continue to search for ways to minimize the risk associated with collisions between aircraft and wildlife, but the challenges grow as we experience increasing wildlife populations and a renewed growth cycle in the aviation industry.

Birdstrike damage on a Snowbirds aircraft
Birdstrike damage on a Snowbirds aircraft

Pilots can do their part to reduce risk. Avoid low-level, high-speed flight whenever possible, and in particular, avoid low-level flight over bird attractants such as landfill sites. Remember, the windshields in light general aviation aircraft have no design requirements related to bird strikes. Birds such as gulls can tower up to 1 800 ft over a landfill on a warm day. Additional information and migration patterns are found in the Transport Canada Aeronautical Information Manual (TC AIM) section RAC 1.15. We encourage you to review and be aware of migration paths when planning your flights.

Please report all wildlife strike incidents to Transport Canada, and if you see unusual wildlife activity, report the situation to other pilots and/or the airport operator. For more information, please visit our Website at:

CASS 2006 Reminder

The 18thannual Canadian Aviation Safety Seminar, CASS 2006, will be held at the Casino Nova Scotia Hotel, in Halifax, N.S., April24–26, 2006. The theme for CASS 2006 is Human and Organizational Factors: Pushing the Boundaries!

Also being offered is a series of workshops aimed at providing participants with practical knowledge of HOF and safety management as well as techniques that can be applied immediately upon their return to the workplace. For information on CASS 2006 please visit

COPACOPA Corner-Radio Chatter Impedes Safe Flying
by Adam Hunt, Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA)

I’m flying VFR across Ontario, listening to 126.7, and getting ready to make a position report and get an update on my destination weather. There is a lot of traffic on 126.7, which is normal during the daytime, but much of this is non-aviation traffic and it is blocking communication.
"Hey Joe, are you there?"
"Where are you?"
"60 mi. north of [location omitted]."
"You going for lunch at Alice’s?"
"Yeah maybe, or I might just head home instead"
This conversation went on for quite a while and I was almost out of range of the remote communications outlet (RCO) when I finally got a chance to make my call.

Another time, I heard "Any traffic 85 mi. north of North Bay, this is C-Fxxx on 126.7, practicing holds at 8500 ft; we’re doing right hand hold on the VOR/DME [VHF omnidirectional range/distance measuring equipment], and we’ll probably be here for another half hour or so before we head home for gas and some lunch, although we may descend first and do some holds lower down for a while too, and then head back to base; any conflicting traffic please report." Five minutes later he made the same call-only longer, with more details about his lunch plans! Even more recently, I heard two chattering pilots thrown off the local tower frequency, because that was the frequency they were talking to each other on.

It seems that each year the amount of irrelevant chatter on the radio increases on key frequencies, like 126.7 and the active ATC frequencies. This is of course frustrating for pilots who have to get past all the chatter to try to pick up clearances, pass weather and update flight plans. Sometimes it becomes a safety hazard when the needed communications cannot get through because there is too much unneeded communications on the frequency.

At the same time that the volume of unnecessary chatter seems to be increasing, the correct use of proper radio phraseology seems to be decreasing. Perhaps it is the endemic use of cell phones in our society that has caused this belief that it is okay to "chat" on the aviation frequencies.

We actually do have frequencies for "air-to-air" communication allocated. They are 122.75 MHz in Southern Domestic Airspace (SDA) and 123.45 MHz in the Northern Domestic Airspace (NDA) and over the North Atlantic (NAT). Additionally, 123.4 MHz is available for gliders, balloons and ultralights to use for "air-to-air" and "air-to-ground" communications. This is all explained in the Transport Canada Aeronautical Information Manual (TC AIM), COM Section 5-Radio Communications.

Let’s re-establish some good radio discipline on the aerodrome traffic frequency (ATF), and ATC and FSS frequencies. Please keep your radio communications short and to the point. If you need to talk to another aircraft, switch to the correct air-to-air frequency to have that conversation. Somebody else’s safety may depend on it.

The Canadian Business Aviation Association Column-The Power of One

CBAAThe cornerstone of the Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA) Private Operator Certificate (POC) Program is the establishment of a systematic and comprehensive process for the management of safety risks that integrates operations and technical systems with financial and human resources.

The premise is that proactive risk management techniques will help to achieve gains in efficiency and safety. Ample guidance material on safety management systems (SMS) is readily accessible, logical and relatively easy to implement. Private operators have successfully implemented the many SMS components into their flight operations.

After first-level SMS audits on CBAA POC holders, the feedback from the CBAA-accredited auditors indicates that there is a solid baseline on which to build. What is frequently missing is the level of individual activity needed to produce the desired efficiency.

The task now is to motivate the individual to be committed and to become a proactive participant. An organization’s culture is defined by each person’s commitment and consequential actions. For an SMS to work, we all need to be active participants. It is the people in an organization, not the system itself that will produce efficiency. A desired outcome of efficiency will be safety.

When we are all committed to participate, we will have taken the first step towards achieving a culture that ultimately will produce efficiency and the safety goals that must be reached. The CBAA’s objective is to build on the power of one to create a positive safety culture; a culture that says everything every individual does is important and value-added. Let us not underestimate the Power of One.

Understanding the Factors that Affect Safety in the Air Navigation Service
by Larry Lachance, Director, Safety, Evaluations and Investigations, NAV CANADA

NAV CANADANAV CANADA has been invited by Transport Canada to provide regular updates on safety issues and new initiatives. The column will look at a variety of initiatives aimed at improving our understanding of factors affecting safety, as well as technological and procedural improvements aimed at enhancing safety. In this column, we will discuss data and analysis in three different areas that will allow us to identify safety-related trends and propose solutions over time.

Human factors trend analysis
In March 2005, NAV CANADA completed a human factors analysis of contributing factors to operating irregularities. By investigating human factors in the delivery of air navigation services (ANS), NAV CANADA seeks to optimize the interface between people and the tasks they perform, the equipment they use, and the physical and organizational environment in which they work.

NAV CANADA analyzed 128 operations safety investigations (OSI). The purpose of the analysis was to identify local workplace or organizational issues where follow-up might lead to the identification of solutions for improvements in safety.

The analysis differentiated between "observations," "front-line human errors" and "contributing factors." "Observations" are based on data routinely collected in investigations, but which are not necessarily "contributing factors." Such data might include staffing levels, whether training was taking place, time in position, workload, complexity, and supervision.

"Front-line human errors" were categorized as planning, execution or monitoring errors, based on an adaptation of James Reason’s Generic Error Modelling System (GEMS), which is imbedded in the investigation process.

"Contributing factors" were categorized using the PETE model (Person, Equipment, Task, Environment), which is used to capture the context that has a negative influence on human performance. Identifying the PETE factors is central to the mitigation of human error, as these are the tools, tasks, and operational and organizational factors that increase the risk of human error.

Some of the contributing factors identified in the analysis include:

  • miscommunication between the controller/specialist and pilots. Examples include incorrect readbacks and pilots not informing air traffic services (ATS) of their intentions;
  • the effect of numerous altitude change requests due to turbulence/chop on the controller’s task;
  • obstructions to visibility or poor visibility of runways and manoeuvring areas;
  • airport layouts that required significant crossing of vehicles/aircraft over active runways;
  • confusion due to similar aircraft identifications;
  • pilots not flying routes as published.

NAV CANADA’s Operations’ Safety, Evaluations and Investigations group intends to complete a human factors analysis of contributing factors to operating irregularities every six months. This will provide a national perspective on contributing factors and allow for the identification of trends over time.

Pilot deviations
An analysis of aviation occurrence reports (AOR), which feed into the Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System (CADORS), revealed a number of pilot deviations, such as altitude busts, airspace incursions, course deviations, runway incursions and VFR non-compliance with clearances that contribute to operational risk in the ANS. The joint Transport Canada–NAV CANADA Safety Oversight Committee is undertaking additional measures to gain an enhanced understanding of what types of pilot deviations are occurring, as well as where, how often, and ultimately, why they are occurring.

Normal operations safety survey
In the spring of 2004, Transport Canada appointed NAV CANADA as the Canadian representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Normal Operations Safety Survey (NOSS) Working Group. The NOSS Working Group has been developing a methodology for safety data collection during normal air traffic control (ATC) operations. This concept is similar to line operations safety audits (LOSA) developed for the airlines.

By conducting a series of targeted observations of ATC operations over a specific period of time, and analyzing the data obtained, the ANS is provided with an overview of the most pertinent threats, errors and undesired states that air traffic controllers must manage on a daily basis.

One feature of NOSS is that it identifies threats, errors and undesired states that are specific to an organization’s particular operational context, as well as how effectively they are managed by air traffic controllers during normal operations. With this information, the organization can make proactive changes to its safety process without triggering an incident or accident. An initial protocol for NOSS has been developed, and NAV CANADA will be conducting a NOSS trial in 2005–2006.

NAV CANADA, the country’s provider of civil air navigation services, is a non-share capital, private corporation with operations coast-to-coast providing ATC, flight information, weather briefings, aeronautical information services, airport advisory services and electronic aids to navigation. More information about NAV CANADA and its services is available at

Air Shows 
by Line Preston, Civil Aviation Safety Officer, Recreational Aviation and Special Flight Operations, General Aviation, Civil Aviation, Transport Canada

Did you know that there are approximately 65 air shows conducted in Canada each year? With the air show season fast approaching, we thought we would provide you with an overview of the requirements to conduct an air show.

First, what is an air show? An air show is an aerial display or demonstration before an invited assembly of persons by one or more aircraft.

Special flight operations certificate
In order to conduct an air show, authorization in the form of a special flight operations certificate (SFOC) is required. The certificate will outline general and specific conditions that must be complied with by the applicant and participants of the event.

An SFOC is issued once an applicant has demonstrated the ability to conduct an air show in accordance with the requirements of the Special Flight Operations Standards. Subpart 623, Division I, Chapter One of the Special Flight Operations Standards outlines the standards that have to be met for the issuance and continuing validity of an SFOC issued for an air show, as provided for in the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs), Subpart 603, Division I.

The applicant must apply to the appropriate Transport Canada Regional General Aviation office at least 60 days prior to the proposed date of the event. The application must contain such information as: relevant names and phone numbers, dates and location of the air show, identification of the aircraft and air safety support facilities, and a detailed site diagram of the event site. At least 10 days prior to the event, the applicant must send in information pertaining to pilot documents, aerobatic manoeuvres, flight authorities, emergency procedures, and air display traffic control procedures. For more detailed information on the issuance of an SFOC, refer to CAR 623.02.

Management structure
The management structure of an air show will vary according to the circumstances. A small air show may be organized by a local flying club, while a large air show will require the services of a number of persons with expertise in a variety of areas. The scope of any air show will depend on the aviation interests of the community and other local conditions.

It is most important that a certificate holder be aware that, since the Minister issues the SFOC-Air Show, it is the responsibility of the certificate holder to ensure that the air show is conducted in such a way that the safety of persons and property on the ground is not jeopardized. In this regard, air show performers are aware of the hazards to themselves, but Transport Canada, by means of the CARs and Special Flight Operations Standards-Special Aviation Events, establishes standards of safety for the protection of the general public.

Air show

The certificate holder is responsible for the structure and assigning of the event management, emergency facilities and procedures, crowd control, and air display traffic control. They shall ensure that procedures have been developed and published and that facilities, equipment, and personnel are in place to respond to anticipated emergencies, including aircraft accidents or medical emergencies involving the spectators. Additionally, the certificate holder is responsible for the provision of adequate facilities and personnel to ensure that the crowd is properly controlled, giving attention to designated spectator areas, aircraft and vehicle parking, fencing barriers, emergency entrances, access lanes and exits, public address systems and site cleanliness. Details are contained in CAR 623.05.

Crowd control personnel should be adults and wear some form of distinctive clothing (e.g. jacket, vest, t-shirt) that clearly identifies them as such. A small coloured nametag or similar device may be difficult for a lost child or disoriented person to identify.

Properly briefed adults should be employed for crowd control in restricted and spectator enclosure areas. Youth groups, if properly utilized and directed, can be of great public assistance for direction, vehicle parking, etc.

Participant and aircraft eligibility/qualifications
In order to participate in an air show, certain conditions must be met relating to both the aircraft and the pilot participant. CAR 623.06 outlines these requirements. The certificate holder must ensure that appropriate authority has been granted to these aircraft operators in order to be eligible to participate in the event.

Distances and altitudes from spectators
CAR 623.07 sets standards for the minimum safety distances, both horizontal and vertical, which have to be maintained between aircraft in flight and the primary spectator area, secondary spectator areas, built-up areas, and occupied buildings during an air show.

Parachute descents at an air show must receive prior authorization in accordance with CAR 603.37. Where parachuting by other than military personnel is part of the air show, the application may be made by the event certificate holder on behalf of the parachutists.

The International Council of Air Shows
The International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) was created in 1968 to safeguard and promote air shows and air show professionals. An association of air show producers, performers and support service providers, ICAS is dedicated to air show safety, professionalism, showmanship and economic viability.

If you need any information pertaining to air show issues and procedures that is not related to the CARs, such as air show planning, organizing or marketing, you may contact:

International Council of Air Shows Inc.
751 Miller Drive SE, Suite F4
Leesburg, Virginia 20175, USA
Tel.: 703 779-8510
Fax: 703 779-8511

Transport Canada is responsible for the conduct of civil aircraft only. Canadian military aircraft, and foreign military aircraft while in Canada, operate under the authority of the Department of National Defence, and are not subject to the CARs. If you require information pertaining to Canadian military performances or performances by foreign military aircraft, you may contact:

1 Canadian Air Division-HQ (1 CAD-HQ)
Box 17000, Station Forces
Winnipeg MB R3J 0T0

Tel.: 204 833-2500 ext. 5206
Fax: 204 833-2637

Who to contact for more information
Additional information on the organization and administration of air shows may be obtained by contacting your local Transport Canada Regional General Aviation office,


Transport Canada
Recreational Aviation and Special Flight Operations (AARRD)
Place de Ville, Tower C, 6th Floor
330 Sparks Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0N8
Web site:

Hosting a Fly-In  ?

Fly-in breakfasts and airport open houses are common events each year throughout Canada. They provide excellent opportunities to let the general public learn more about aviation-and they can also be a lot of fun.

A fly-in is defined in the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) as a pre-arranged meeting of a number of aircraft at a specified aerodrome. Fly-ins involve an invited assembly of persons, but cannot include competitive flying or aerial demonstrations. If your event fits these criteria, there are no special regulatory requirements for you to meet-beyond normal aircraft operational rules.

We encourage you to contact your local Transport Canada General Aviation office. They will be pleased to provide you with all the necessary information to help you organize your event and make it a safe and successful one.

Click on image to enlarge

Blackfly Air on SMS

Blackfly Air Attempts Hazard Identification and Risk Management!

Blackfly Air managers are back, and this time they’re tackling the important safety management system (SMS) task of identifying hazards and risks, evaluating them, and then taking specific steps to manage the risks, and/or eliminate the hazards. All this lingo aside, it is best to refer to the source. Here are a few words on the subject.

Hazard identification and risk management
To make your operation safer, you need to know what could cause injury or damage, how likely it is to happen, and how serious the result could be. The official terminology is "hazard identification" and "risk management." Let’s start with some definitions.

A hazard is a condition with the potential of causing loss or injury.

A risk is the chance of a loss or injury, measured in terms of severity and probability.

For example, a wind of 15kt blowing directly across the runway could be a hazard to a light aircraft operation. The risk associated with this hazard is that a pilot may not be able to control the aircraft during takeoff or landing, resulting in an accident. You could probably think of several consequences of encountering this hazard, ranging from damage to equipment and reputation, to injury and death. Another example of a hazard is an icy ramp. The risks include people slipping and falling, and manoeuvring aircraft or vehicles not being able to stop. In a maintenance operation, an oxygen bottle stored near an oil cabinet, or out-of-date maintenance manuals would be classified as hazards.

Your goal is to proactively identify the hazards in your operation, determine what risks are associated with these hazards and what the level of risk is for each scenario. Then you try to apply rules, or design operating procedures that will reduce or eliminate the risks. This is known as a Corrective Action Plan. In rare cases, you may decide that the risk is too great and that the best choice is to avoid the hazard by not engaging in a particular activity.

While we often think of hazards as being technical in nature, those that lead to accidents can be business-oriented-training, planning, budgeting, procedures and so forth. Here are some of the most hazardous times for an operation:

  • When major changes are made to the organization;
  • Times of rapid growth;
  • When there is significant staff changeover;
  • When many employees are inexperienced;
  • When new procedures are introduced;
  • If financial problems start affecting operational decisions.

Although you look for hazards constantly, you should especially look for them at high-risk times such as those listed above, and you might even plan a safety self-assessment, if these conditions exist.

This is the proactive part of safety management. You are looking for problems before they become incidents or accidents. Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) statistics suggest that for every serious or disabling injury in an organization, there are upward of 600previous safety deficiencies and minor incidents that may or may not have been reported. In an aviation context, this can mean that, at an organizational and industry level, an increasing number of incidents will increase the likelihood of an accident occurring.

Risk management-it’s all about priorities
Once hazards and the risks associated with them are identified, you need to estimate the level of risk. You need to look at the likelihood (probability) and the seriousness (severity) of a potential occurrence. While some need much effort to correct, not all will require that level of resources and sometimes it is just not clear which hazards need the most attention. This is where risk analysis comes in.

This risk assessment process must be practical, simple, and must match the size and complexity of your operation. In discussing the hazards, experienced staff can draw on their own experience; safety publications; the Transportation Safety Board of Canada(TSB) and other databases; research they have done; and other information about accidents over the years.

The measurement scales below are merely suggestions-it doesn’t matter whether you use three, four or more descriptions to help you make an estimate, and you can word them in whatever way makes most sense to your work. First, for each risk identified, assess probability:


H-High It will likely happen;
M-Medium It has a fairly good chance of happening;
L-Low It is possible, but not too likely;
VL-Very low It will almost certainly not occur.

Second, again for each risk, for the moment assume that the incident DID occur. Now estimate how severe the consequences would be:


H-High Serious or irreparable harm to people or to the company;
M-Medium It would have a significant impact on people or property;
L-Low It might cause inconvenience, but no real harm.

So where does that take us? You now know how to establish priorities and where to place most resources. Any risks rated at a HH level, in other words a risk that will PROBABLY happen AND would cause SEVERE or irreparable harm if it did so, obviously needs immediate and effective attention. A reported risk rated LL, on the other hand, which is not too likely and would cause no real harm if it did occur, would probably be placed pretty low on the priority list. You could plan to address all risks with a rating equal to, or higher than a MM.

In considering the hazards that you judge as serious, clearly you want to eliminate them. However, that may be impossible, so at least you want to reduce either their likelihood or their seriousness to the point where you can live with the remaining risk. Following that approach, you work out a strategy and you take action. The solutions may include, among other things:

  • A change in operating procedures;
  • A review of why the activity is necessary;
  • Setting up recurrent training;
  • Improving supervision;
  • Providing safety information or advice aimed at specific areas;
  • Doing some contingency planning;
  • Limiting exposure to the hazard.

This process of identifying the hazard, determining the risks and developing options for reducing the risk is the Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment process. You will need to document this process and the resulting operating procedures. Refer to the SMS toolkit to help design a process that works for you.

For further information, refer to Safety Management Systems for Small Aviation Operations-A Practical Guide to Implementation (TP14135), and Safety Management Systems for Flight Operations And Aircraft Maintenance Organizations-A Guide to Implementation (TP13881).

Looking for AIP Canada (ICAO) Supplements and Aeronautical Information Circulars (AIC)?

As a reminder to all pilots and operators, the AIP Canada (ICAO) supplements as well as the AIP Canada (ICAO) AICs are found online on the NAV CANADA Web site. Pilots and operators are strongly encouraged to stay up-to-date with these documents by visiting the NAV CANADA Web site at, and follow the links to "Publications" and "Aeronautical Information Products". This will take you directly to the site of the current AIP Canada (ICAO).

Date modified: