Regulations and You

Regulations and You


The Tribunal Rules: Two Recent Decisions Handed Down by the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada

In this issue, the Advisory and Appeals Division of the Regulatory Services Branch, thought to share two decisions that were handed down by the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada (TATC) in the last year. These decisions are of particular interest to pilots because, in one case, the Tribunal studied the definition of an ultralight airplane, and in the other, it reviewed in detail the notion of an approach in view of landing. The names of the people involved have been changed, because the goal of this article, and our newsletter, is simply to share lessons learned.

Let's first look at the case Tremblay v. Minister of Transport.

Some charges were laid against Mr. Tremblay because he had acted as, among other things, a pilot-in-command of an aircraft without holding a permit or licence for the duties he performed. In fact, Mr. Tremblay held a pilot licence-ultralight airplane, and was flying a Cessna 150G that he owned.

In his defence, Mr. Tremblay claimed that his aircraft was an ultralight, given the modifications that he made. In his opinion, he therefore had the appropriate licence. The modifications made to the Cessna made it so that the weight empty was 975 lbs.

However, the Tribunal did not accept Mr. Tremblay's argument. It concluded that, despite the modifications made to the aircraft to make it lighter, the Cessna 150G is designed and constructed to have a maximum weight of 1 600 lbs and a stall speed of 41.6 kt, which does not comply with the requirements of an ultralight. Indeed, the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) prescribe that an ultralight airplane have a maximum take-off weight of 544 kg (1 200 lbs) at the most, and a stall speed in the landing configuration of 39 kt. In addition, the Tribunal pointed out that an aircraft could not belong to more than one category, class or type.

Another interesting decision is the one handed down in the case Roy v. Minister of Transport.

In this case, Mr. Roy had been accused of using a helicopter at an altitude below 1 000 ft, over a built-up area. During the review hearing, Mr. Roy admitted to having indeed flown at a low altitude over a built-up area, but claimed that he had proceeded on an approach in view of landing. He testified that he was looking for a service station; a landmark that had been given to him for landing.

Although an approach in view of landing is an exception to the rule that prohibits a pilot from flying at low altitude, the Tribunal considered that, given the circumstances, the exception could not apply. Indeed, the Tribunal stated that,"An approach is not a tool to be used for searching for a proposed landing site. Searching for a landing site and conducting an approach are two different procedures. I am of the view that an ‘approach' is a distinct manoeuvre. An approach cannot be started until the landing site has been identified. It is a process used to land an aircraft once the actual landing site has been determined after the search for the landing site has been completed. The approach is the descent from altitude immediately preceding a landing and in my view limited to that purpose. While it varies with circumstances of each case, it does not require an inordinate length of time or, in the case of a helicopter, an inordinate distance." [Translation]

The Tribunal added that an approach could not take an unlimited amount of time or space. It must rather be a definite and deliberate process, with a specific goal. The Tribunal's counsel clearly stated that an approach could not be used as an excuse to maintain flying at a low altitude. In his opinion, the approach procedure would be limited to a distance from the landing site that is reasonable, and does not pose a risk to conducting the approach.

In this particular case, the Tribunal ruled that the appropriate landing procedure was the one applicable to restricted areas. This required, first, a flight at least 1 000 ft above surface obstructions to the location of the service station being sought; the landing procedure could then be initiated. The counsel concluded that the maximum length of the approach that should have been conducted for landing was ½ mi.

We hope that these examples have given you a better understanding of the definition of an ultralight airplane, and the idea of an approach. Happy flying!

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