2009 Update on Runway Safety

by Ann Lindeis, Manager Safety Management Planning and Analysis, NAV CANADA

How frequent are runway incursions?
The chart below indicates the number of runway incursions from 2005–2008. These runway incursions include:

  • Air traffic services deviations(AD): situations that occur where air traffic services(ATS) are being provided, and where a preliminary investigation indicates that safety may have been jeopardized, less than minimum separation may have existed, or both.
  • Pilot deviations(PD): situations that occur where the actions of a pilot result in non-compliance with an ATC instruction/clearance, or a violation of the Canadian Aviation Regulations(CARs).
  • Vehicle or pedestrian deviations(VPD): situations that occur where a vehicle operator, a non-pilot operator of an aircraft, or a pedestrian proceeds without authorization onto the protected area of a surface designated for landing or taking off.

Runway incursions 2005 - 2008

While most of these events had little or no potential for a collision, it should be noted that runway incursions continue to happen and we need to maintain our efforts to reduce the incidence.

Why do runway incursions happen?
A wide range of factors contribute to runway incursions, including less-than-perfect aerodrome design, technology, procedures, training, regulations and human error. Progress in managing runway safety requires on-going effort from everyone in the aviation industry.

What activities are being undertaken to manage runway safety?
Runway safety is a collective responsibility. This responsibility extends to organizations (aerodrome operators, the air navigation service provider, and the air operator) as well as to individuals(e.g. controller, pilot, vehicle operator). This article will highlight some of the recent initiatives for enhancing runway safety involving NAVCANADA at the local, national and international levels.


  • As part of the continuing effort by NAVCANADA to respond to customer needs and conform to international best practices, procedures were implemented to replace the English phraseology of "taxi to position" and "taxi to position and wait" with the International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO) standard phraseology "line up" and "line up and wait" when instructing aircraft to enter the departure runway. The change was implemented April10,2008, and the Transport Canada Aeronautical Information Manual(TC AIM) has been amended. A major dissemination project was undertaken involving the Air Transportation Association of Canada(ATAC), Air Line Pilots Association(ALPA), Canadian Business Aviation Association(CBAA), Canadian Owners and Pilots Association(COPA) and their U.S. affiliates. NAVCANADA unit managers also briefed local flight schools and customers. No changes have been made to the French phraseology.
  • To emphasize the protection of active runways, and to enhance the prevention of runway incursions, pilots are asked to acknowledge taxi authorizations that contain the instructions "hold" or "hold short" by providing a complete readback or repeating the hold point. With the increased simultaneous use of more than one runway, instructions to enter, cross, backtrack or line up on any runway should also be acknowledged by a readback.
  • NAVCANADA formed a Working Group with customers and stakeholders to address ATS-pilot communications. The mandate of the Working Group is to enhance safety by undertaking initiatives to improve communication and reduce communication error. The group has initiated an awareness campaign aimed at ATS personnel as well as pilots. The campaign involves an educational DVD on ATS-pilot communications, posters, and articles.


  • Procedures were changed to have controllers instruct an aircraft to either "cross" or "hold short" of any runway it will cross while taxiing. Therefore, unless you are specifically instructed to line-up, proceed/taxi on, or cross a runway, hold short of that runway.



  • Airport surface detection equipment(ASDE) has been installed at more airports, enabling controllers to detect potential runway conflicts by providing the controller with a radar picture of movement on runways and taxiways.
  • Expanded dynamic use of stop bars at Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International Airport. Although primarily used during low-visibility operations, pilots may also encounter illuminated stop bars under other operational conditions on the high-speed exits leading from Runway06R/24L and approaching Runway06L/24R. Pilots should never cross an illuminated stop bar.
  • NAVCANADA and the Aéroports de Montréal(ADM) are jointly investing in a new multilateration surface surveillance system that will improve aircraft and vehicle visibility on the runways and the airport apron at Montréal/Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. The technology is called multistatic dependent surveillance(MDS).

Sharing runway safety information

These are just a few of the activities being undertaken within the aviation community in Canada.

For information about other runway safety initiatives, see the following links:

Soaring Association of Canada (SAC)The SAC Column: Transition to Motor Gliders

by Dan Cook, Soaring Association of Canada(SAC)

Motor gliders(MG) were discussed at a recent meeting of the Soaring Association of Canada's(SAC), Flight Training and Safety Committee(FTSC). MGs can be grouped into categories based on their capabilities, asfollows:

  • Self-launch MGs, which use the engine as a launch method. The motor will be shut off once normal gliding altitude has been reached and the MG is then used as a pure glider;
  • Sustainer MGs, which use the engine for cross-country assist. The MG will be launched and flown as a glider, but the motor will be used to prevent an out landing, or to fly the glider back to base under power in the event lift vanishes. Cross-country distances would likely see diamond distance attempts with potential returns approaching 250km;
  • Touring motor gliders(TMG), which can be used as self-launching gliders or light aeroplanes, and are able to reach remote landing sites at up to 1000NM ranges.

More of these gliders are appearing on the Canadian scene as they are gaining popularity. Pilots progressing to MGs should obtain a thorough dual checkout in a similar glider before attempting solo flight. Pilots have had difficulty with these glider types, and the procedures in this article should normally be performed in a two-seat MG, but if none is available they should be performed solo.

Many of the older models have complicated starting procedures and can distract the pilot from the task of safely flying the MG. In addition, most of these MGs have poor performance when the engine is deployed but not operating. Therefore, a series of flights and exercises have been devised to assist pilots to safely convert to their MG. The pilot must become familiar with handling the aircraft under these emergency conditions before attempting a solo flight with the engine on. The initial airfield selected for this training should have a fairly long runway(4000 to 5000 ft) and have many off-field landing options close by. Learning on too short a runway will be difficult.

Experiences with transitioning pilots to TMGs show the average power pilot can require up to 5hr on type to be cleared for solo, and the average glider pilot can require 10 to 12hr. These flights are mostly touch-and-go, except for approximately one hour cross-country flying. This translates into about 25 takeoffs and landings for the power pilot, and approximately 65 for the glider pilot. Experienced pilots may require fewer hours; the check instructor can give guidance.

Pilots flying TMGs cross-country may have to deal with more complicated issues related to airspace, radio procedures, controlled airports, and ATC procedures. This will require more elaborate flight planning and navigation skills.

The SAC prepared the following general guidelines for pilots transitioning to a sustainer, self-launching or other MG. Note that these guidelines do not constitute or replace formal training. The SAC hopes these guidelines will assist pilots who convert to engine takeoffs and emergency landings when first flying their new MG, and cover the additional skills needed for cross-country flying.

Grob 109 TMG (Photo: Wikipedia)

Grob 109 TMG(Photo: Wikipedia)

General guidelines

  • Before using the engine for the first time in either the sustainer or self-launching glider, the pilot should become thoroughly competent at flying the glider without using the motor. This will require a number of soaring flights, launching by aerotow, during which the characteristics of the glider can be explored and mastered.
  • Take-off performance in a self-launching glider can be greatly affected by weight, slope of the runway, length/wetness of the grass, hard runway surface, wheel brake, density altitude, bugs on wings, etc. Before takeoff under the glider's own power, a physical landmark for a lift-off decision point must be selected to allow a safe abort. If not airborne by this point, the takeoff must be aborted.
  • Never attempt to deploy the engine and start it in the circuit. It is recommended that when planning to deploy and start the engine, you circle over your selected landing field. Climb away while circling over the field until certain the engine is performing well.
  • Do not deploy the engine in flight unless you have picked out a field that you can reach and land in with the engine deployed but not operating. Should the engine not start, you will need the field in short order.
  • If the engine is deployed and does not start by 800ft above ground level(AGL), do not continue to attempt a start or try to store the engine, unless this is an automatic(one-button) action. Shift your concentration to completing an abbreviated circuit and landing with the engine deployed. The downwind, diagonal and base legs will have to be much closer to the intended landing area than normal.
  • Glider pilots who intend to fly a TMG should receive additional ground school training, emphasizing the points above, and make use of the recreational pilot permit curriculum as the standard. In addition, potential TMG pilots could attend a powered flight ground school to fill in the voids in the glider ground school training.
  • A SAC bronze badge is the minimum requirement for a glider cross-country flight. Glider pilots who wish to fly a TMG without a private pilot licence(PPL) or recreational pilot permit(RPP), or cross-country training and experience should complete:
    • checkouts on type, including a sufficient number of dual flights to demonstrate normal and emergency handling of the aircraft under power and as a glider; and
    • dual cross-country practice in a TMG in powered flight in excess of 50km, including flight planning, navigation, diversion skills and a remote airport landing.

Since the Flight Crew Licensing Standards in the Canadian Aviation Regulations(CARs) define glider to include MGs, the pilot of a glider or MG requires a glider pilot licence and an endorsement by a glider instructor(themselves qualified on the launch method) on each launch method the glider pilot intends to use. For more definitive information about the licensing requirements for pilots of these gliders, contact the FTSC, at

Blackfly Air

Click on image above to enlarge

Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA)COPA Corner: Weight and Balance

by John Quarterman, Manager, Member Assistance and Programs, Canadian Owners and Pilots Association(COPA)

For most of us in the mid-fifties crowd-the majority and average age of COPA members-we learned to fly quite some time ago. In fact, many of us learned to fly in the seventies and early eighties. This is also true for most recreational pilots in Canada. Now it's a delicate subject to be sure, but the truth is that back then we were quite a bit younger and slimmer. And judging by the snapshots that many of us like to show off of our younger days when we were flying and travelling over North America, we can see that our personal weights have increased steadily over the years since our early flying days.

Of course, that's not the only trend we see. People have been eating more and gaining mass and stature. Today, people weigh more at any given age than they did a few decades ago.

Transport Canada recognized the trend in personal mass in response to the Transportation Safety Board(TSB) recommendations following the crash of Georgian Express Flight 126 on January 17, 2004, and other crashes preceding it. And so, on January20,2005, Transport Canada updated section RAC 3.5 of the Transport Canada Aeronautical Information Manual(TCAIM) (then known as the Aeronautical Information Publication-or A.I.P.Canada) with new male and female standard weights, including both summer and winter weights. To understand the specific reasons for the changes and the TSB recommendations which in part prompted them, A04H000-Interim Aviation Safety Recommendations: Standard Passenger Weights-Use and Validity of Standard Values is good reading.(The document is available at One passage in this document provides an analysis of the passenger weight on Georgian Express Flight 126:

The average weight of the passengers on Georgian Express Flight 126 using standard weights was 183.3 lbs(9 men at 188 lbs, 1 woman at 141 lbs). Using actual weights, the average passenger weight was 240 lbs. This represents an increase of 56.7 lbs per passenger from the published standard weights. This is a biased sample, but nonetheless indicates the increased weight of the Canadian population.

The difference between our modern weights and those of a few decades back is quite startling as illustrated by the chart below(extracted from a Statistics Canada article on Canadian weight studies).

Chart 1: Obesity rates, by age group, household population aged 18 or older, Canada excluding territories, 1978/79 and 2004

Click on image above to enlarge

Chart 1: Obesity rates, by age group, household population aged 18 or older,
Canada excluding territories, 1978/79 and 2004
(Source: Adult obesity in Canada: Measured height and weight

Of course, many of us fly aircraft that were designed in the sixties, produced in the seventies, and equipped with four seats. It is instructive to realize that these four-place aircraft, such as the popular Cherokee140, Cessna172, AmericanAA-5 Traveller, and BeechcraftBE-19 Sport, were actually built based on the concept that the aircraft could transport two male-female couples or even four males safely with proper fuel-load management and still carry adequate reserves for cross-country flights. Of course, using today's standard weights, this is no longer feasible. However, that doesn't stop some people from trying. A chief flight instructor(CFI) at a local flight school confided to me that on a number of occasions he has reminded rental pilots before flight that their intended weight load would clearly put the aircraft hundreds of pounds over gross and that he has refused to sign the pilots out as a result.

Even modern versions of these aircraft suffer from this weight trend. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that many of these aircraft designs have been steadily modernized over the years with sound insulation, additional avionics, modern metal instrument panels, autopilots, 26g seats, beefed-up doors and wheel pants, and in some cases, oxygen and a turbocharger. All these modifications, while highly desirable in themselves, have added weight to the aircraft designs so that in combination with higher personal weights the aircraft are really only four-place aircraft in name only. In some of these aircraft, the complication of a different landing weight-as compared to the take-off weight-has been introduced because the gross weight has been raised to compensate, but the landing weight has not. In other aircraft, the gross weight has been raised slightly, but the overall useful load has declined.

Standard passenger weights-Use and validity of standard values
So what can we do about this? Well, in the first place-and more than ever-we should be doing our sums and calculations before we launch. That means doing a full weight and balance using actual weights in accordance with TC AIM RAC 3.5.1 as part of the pre-flight planning. It is tempting and convenient to assume that this calculation is not necessary with only two people. In fact, it can easily be shown that in many aircraft two large adults and a full extended-range-tanks fuel load exceeds both the balance and the weight limits. Therefore doing the calculations is a must, since flying overweight is illegal.

Canadian Aviation Regulation(CAR) 602.07 states in part:

602.07 No person shall operate an aircraft unless it is operated in accordance with the operating limitations...(underlining by author)

CAR704.32 states in part:

704.32(1) No person shall operate an aircraft unless, during every phase of the flight, the load restrictions, weight and centre of gravity of the aircraft conform to the limitations specified in the aircraft flight manual.

TC AIM RAC3.5 states:

The CARs require that aircraft be operated within the weight and balance limitations specified by the manufacturer. Actual passenger weights should be used, but where these are not available, the following average passenger weights, which include clothing and carry-on baggage, may be used.

NOTE: These average weights are derived from a Statistics Canada Survey, Canadian Community Health Survey Cycle 2.1, 2003.

Summer   Winter
200 lbs or
90.7 kg
(12 yrs up)
206 lbs or
93.4 kg
165 lbs or
74.8 kg
(12 yrs up)
171 lbs or
77.5 kg
75 lbs or
34 kg
(2-11 yrs)
75 lbs or
34 kg
30 lbs or
13.6 kg
(0 to less than 2 yrs)
30 lbs or
13.6 kg

* Add where infants exceed 10 percent of Adults

On the positive side of this issue, times have changed, and technology has marched on to provide us with all sorts of new solutions. While we have yet to invent the general aviation-friendly, human-weight-shrinking machine that most of us would like, we do instead have a ready assortment of flight planning and computer calculation mechanisms to choose from to manage our weight and balance calculations.

In our long-ago days of flight training, we learned to do these calculations by hand from the aircraft flight manual. The calculations are simple to do, but they take a little time to be accurate and require a weight and balance form, plus either a calculator or hand calculation, and a weight and balance graph on which the aircraft weight and balance is plotted.

COPA has evaluated several modern flight-planning packages while aviating about the country, and all of them offer excellent facilities for turning out accurate weight and balance forms in a snap. Some of these programs are quite inexpensive. Computer spreadsheet programs may also be used; one COPA member, for example, uses one of these spreadsheet programs to create weight forms and plotted weight and balance graphs almost instantly for all of the several aircraft types he flies. To help pilots work their way through the maze of personal computer products available, COPA has a dedicated column in its monthly COPAFlight newspaper that regularly reviews these types of products.

So what's the bottom line? Do those weight and balance calculations. If you need to arrange a painless computer program to do them, by all means do so. It could save you embarrassment or worse. In today's world, it's a snap to do these calculations, and there is no excuse for not carrying them out. For more information on COPA, visit

Helicopter Association of Canada (HAC)The HAC Column: NTSB HEMS Hearings

by Fred L. Jones, President and CEO, Helicopter Association of Canada(HAC)

Has anyone else been watching the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service(HEMS) hearings from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board(NTSB)? I must confess to having become somewhat addicted to the NTSB webcast on this subject from February 3 to 6,2009. I believe that it should be required viewing, particularly for those working in the Canadian HEMS community. I found the whole thing captivating-starting with this excerpt from the Chairman's introductory remarks:

"In the last six years, we have seen 85HEMS accidents, resulting in 77fatalities. In the calendar year 2003, we saw 19 accidents and 7fatalities; in 2004, there were 13accidents with 18fatalities; 2005 had 15accidents and 11fatalities. In 2006, 13HEMS accidents occurred with a total of 5fatalities. In 2007, there were 11accidents with a total of 7fatalities. However, 2008 was the deadliest year in HEMS on record, with 13EMS helicopter accidents, and 29fatalities."

If that doesn't grab your attention, I don't know what would. For me, the evidence at the hearing, and my observations since then, have served to highlight some of the significant differences between American and Canadian HEMS operations, including our safety culture, the size of the HEMS community, our funding models, and our regulatory and medical care infrastructure, to name only a few-all of which influence the safety of flight operations.

Now, admittedly, all these differences make it more difficult to compare apples to apples, and this is a very complicated dynamic, but we can still learn a lot from one another. Apparently the NTSB thinks so too, since they invited Sylvain Séguin of Canadian Helicopters to testify on the first day of their hearings. Dedicated HEMS operators in Canada haven't had a fatal accident since the inception of the first dedicated service, which dates back to 1977. That's 230000 flight hours and an accident record we should be proud of-one that we should work hard to maintain.

Just to put the issue into perspective, in a fiercely competitive environment, the number of American dedicated HEMS aircraft has roughly doubled every 10years, to now include approximately 638 dedicated helicopters, by comparison with Canada's 20 dedicated machines that operate under largely revenue-hour neutral contracts based on larger monthly fees and smaller hourly rates.

The Canadian aircraft are all multi-engine IFR helicopters, with two IFR-trained crews. By comparison, American HEMS operators can operate single-pilot, single-engine night VFR.

Our night VFR operations are limited to the applicable night VFR minimum obstacle clearance altitude(MOCA), to avoid drift down in adverse weather, with an IFR option if turning around becomes problematic. American HEMS operators have no similar MOCA limitation at night, and fewer options when turning around is not an attractive alternative to pressing on and flying lower.

Drawing any conclusions from these differences is difficult, but I encourage Aviation Safety Letter(ASL) readers to form their own opinion based on a review of the evidence, an assessment of the differences, and even perhaps based on their own HEMS experience. HAC naturally would like to see HEMS expand into Canada, but we should always be open to learn from our own experiences and benefit from the experiences of others.

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