Maintenance and Certification

The Aircraft Certification Branch, Engineering Division
by the Engineering Division, Aircraft Certification, Civil Aviation, Transport Canada

Who we are

The Aircraft Certification Branch is one of the largest in Civil Aviation in the National Capital Region, with a staff of about 150 in eight divisions. With approximately 40 engineers, the Engineering Division is the largest within the Branch and is grouped in six specialty areas, representing a diverse set of technical skills, expertise and abilities-Avionics &Electrical, Fuel &Hydro-Mechanical Systems, Structures, Powerplants &Emissions, Electronic Equipment Design Assurance (Software) and Occupant Safety &Environmental Control Systems.

These specialties are required to support the Aircraft Certification Branch in approving the type design of aeronautical products, otherwise known as "Type Certification." The products approved range from large transport aircraft and rotorcraft to small two-seater aircraft and the engines that power them.

What we do and why

"Safe skies start with safe aircraft, and safe aircraft start with safe designs." This phrase captures the essence of the Branch's and the Division's raison d'être.

Although many of the engineers in this Division have engineering degrees and extensive industry experience in the design of aircraft, aircraft systems, engines and components, our role is not to design aircraft. We are in the "design assurance" business and we work with our Canadian aerospace industry to understand their product designs, and validate that these designs meet the internationally-accepted design standards. When this is confirmed, the Director, Aircraft Certification Branch, will issue a "Type Certificate," which signifies that the design meets comprehensive safety and emissions standards.

This type certification function is one of many related activities. We are also involved in the review and acceptance of foreign-designed aircraft and engines; participate in the development of the design standards in harmonization working groups with other foreign authorities, such as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European
Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); are involved with the Continuing Airworthiness Division in reviewing the impact of design deficiencies in certified aeronautical products and determining the appropriate corrective action; provide technical support to regional aircraft certification engineers, inspectors and industry involved in the modification and repair of aircraft in the Canadian fleet; and assess and participate in the certification and oversight of industry design approval delegates.

How we do our job

We typically work in project teams, internally within Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA), and externally with industry. For a new aircraft program, there will be at least one engineer from each engineering section, with a flight test pilot and engineer, and a project manager who leads the team. This team works closely with the industry engineering specialists, and delegates who are responsible for designing and demonstrating that the new aircraft design meets the regulatory requirements.

The certification program for a new transport-category aircraft can take up to five years, and for an engine the program can take up to three years. Derivatives, or changes, to these initial designs take less time, but can use as many resources. As a result, at any one time, an engineer within the Engineering Division could be a team member on as many as ten or more certification programs running in parallel, in addition to participating in the other activities noted above. So, the ability to multi-task is essential.

Much of the time, our business is conducted at the industry facilities, or industry engineers meet with us in Ottawa, Ont. Typically, day-to-day communications with the company specialists are done via phone, videoconference, e-mail and increasingly, via web-based data-sharing "portals" that allow the exchange of large documents. Today, a lead company using "design partners" in other countries creates most large aircraft. As a result, it is not unusual to have Engineering Division specialists travelling to witness a "cold soak" test of an aircraft in Iqaluit, Nun., or a flight control system test in Germany, or an electronic engine control test in the USA.

At the beginning of an approval program, the TCCA engineering specialists will spend considerable time with the industry delegates to understand the proposed design and how the company proposes to show that the design meets the applicable safety and emission standards. The aircraft and system design, and the standards that must be met, are very complex and the compliance demonstration process is similarly complex. Depending on the design feature, compliance with the design requirements may be demonstrated by test, engineering analysis or inspection. Both the tests and analyses can be very complex and expensive, the interpretation of results can be difficult, and pass/fail criteria are often subjective. This is where"engineering judgment" comes in.

During the approval program, there is so much compliance data generated, it would be impossible for TCCA engineers to review it all, so there is significant reliance on the capability and expertise of the industry designing the product and the delegates. The TCCA engineer must use a risk-based approach to determine where and when to be involved in reviewing the compliance data-focussing, for example, on critical safety areas, unusual designs or technology, or compliance methods.

At the end of the approval program, based on the company and delegate activities and the TCCA engineers' involvement, the company will have demonstrated that the design complies with the requirements and that there are no unsafe features. At this point, the Type Certificate can be issued.

In summary

As an essential link in the establishment of a safe aircraft, an engineer in the Engineering Division of the Aircraft Certification Branch has a challenging job that offers a unique opportunity to work with both Canadian and foreign aerospace companies that design and manufacture aircraft, rotorcraft, engines and associated systems.

Inadequate Identification of Fuel Barrels
An Aviation Safety Information Letter from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB)

On July 16, 2005, a Bell 205 A-1 helicopter was engaged in forest fire suppression and longline slinging operations in the province of Quebec. While hovering with an empty water bucket on a 100-ft longline, with the bucket 15 ft above the water, the pilot felt a vibration, heard a bang, and the engine lost power. The aircraft quickly lost altitude, pitched nose down and to the right, then struck the water. The two pilots were able to exit the aircraft before it sank and were rescued by nearby firefighters. The pilot-in-command was seriously injured, and the other pilot sustained minor injuries. The aircraft was substantially damaged. The investigation into this accident (A05Q0119) is ongoing.

The Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU) is responsible for the prevention, detection, and suppression of forest fires in Quebec. During forest fire suppression operations, SOPFEU will contract helicopters and other aircraft to fulfill their operational needs. Barrels (205 L) of fuel are ordered from local wholesalers and delivered to the nearest fire suppression operations staging area. The on-going investigation into this occurrence revealed that the wholesaler had mistakenly delivered four barrels of Avgas and 36 barrels of Jet A fuel, instead of 40 barrels of Jet A fuel. It also revealed that workers loading the product on the truck at the wholesaler's yard and those delivering the product to SOPFEU had mistakenly identified the product. The pilots using the product did not correctly identify it before fuelling. Two of the four helicopter operators working from the staging area mistakenly fuelled their aircraft with Avgas.

Photo 1: View of fuel barrels at base camp
Photo 1: View of fuel barrels at base camp

(Note: The Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) section AIR 1.3.2 Aviation Fuel Handling states in part: "...A company supplying aviation fuel for use in civil aircraft is responsible for the quality and specifications of its products up to the point of actual delivery. Following delivery, the operator is responsible for the correct storage, handling, and usage of aviation fuel..."

Although a number of turbine engines may burn Avgas as emergency fuel for a limited time without a negative outcome, it is not the case if the same mistake is made while fuelling a piston engine aircraft with Jet fuel. The B205 operations manual only authorizes the use of Jet A or Jet B. The use of Avgas in this accident is not deemed to have been contributory to the loss of engine power.

The barrels delivered were all white, and all identifying stickers were also white. The identifying stickers included all the necessary information, as specified by provincial regulations. The only difference between the two products was the words "100LL Avgas" and "Jet A fuel." (See photos 1 and 2 taken on site.)

Photo 2: View of fuel barrel labels
Photo 2: View of fuel barrel labels

The wholesaler need only ensure that the petrol product they deliver meets provincial regulations, i.e. the container must be cleaned, filled, and sealed on site; and identifying stickers affixed on the container must include the date, the type of product, batch number, and dangerous goods information.

Contrary to federal regulations applicable for fuel distribution at airports and aerodromes, provincial laws do not require the container or the identifying stickers to differ in colour, even though the product is different. Therefore, the different petrol products can easily be mistaken and lead to fuelling an aircraft with the wrong type of fuel. Avgas is considered a Class 1 petrol product, and under existing provincial regulations, a Class 1 product over 45 L does not require any kind of colour coding of the container. However, a container under 45 L, containing a Class 1 product, must be predominately red in colour.

Therefore, by provincial law, the 205-L barrels of Avgas do not have to differ in colour from a Class 2 (Jet fuel) or Class 3 product. Colour differentiation of the identifying stickers is also not required. The different products, concealed in the containers, and not visible to the user, have a different colour and smell; Avgas is blue and Jet fuel is yellow.

According to the Aeronautics Act, the base camp and fuel cache from which the helicopters were operating are considered an aerodrome. Distributors of a petrol product at an aerodrome are subject to federal regulations and must ensure that the type of product is specifically identifiable by a given colour of container, pump, and/or label.

The use of fuel barrels for remote aircraft operations is widespread throughout Canada. It is of the utmost importance to ensure that the product not only be identifiable by name, but that it also be distinguishable from another petrol product in a more predominant manner. The quality control of the petrol product provided to an aircraft operator at an airport should also be assured when operating at an aerodrome.

Aircraft Maintenance Operational and Functional Checks
by Norbert Belliveau, Civil Aviation Safety Inspector, System Safety, Atlantic Region, Transport Canada

Aviation maintenance is a very complex industry. We aircraft maintenance engineers (AME) maintain every type, model and size of heavier-than-air aircraft that are flown in the world today.

On many occasions, our profession requires that we perform certain tasks that may demand more alertness and care than others. One such task relates to the aircraft "static functional checks," or as we would refer to them,"ground runs." Through training and experience, functional checks or taxiing of an aircraft are performed safely and without incident; however, when we are under pressure, trying to meet schedule demands, fatigued, or being affected by any other such contributing factor, a step can easily be overlooked and the operation can end with a much different outcome.

Aircraft functional checks, such as power performances, system deficiencies, compass swings, and engine washes, are only carried out on an irregular basis. The potentially long interval between "ground runs" may have created a certain "system layout" or "operational" uncertainty for the AME in the cockpit. I believe pilots call this "currency"! The operation of an aircraft holds a lot of responsibility. Even if an individual has previously performed this task many times, it only takes one very important step to be forgotten or overlooked for a serious occurrence to happen. The dynamic environment we operate in leaves little room for error.

The following steps are a reminder for the AMEs prior to performing aircraft operational or functional checks. Note that this does not, and is not meant to, replace the aircraft's pilot operating handbook (POH) operation checklist.

Before the task:

  1. Confirm inspection sheets/package are completed and appropriately signed off.
  2. Check records/worksheets for any special attention required during aircraft operation.
  3. Confirm personnel are trained, current and appropriately endorsed on type.
  4. Be familiar with airport operator's policies, procedures/practices, aprons, signage, runways, and designated ground run areas.
  5. Take along a copy of the aerodrome diagram for reference [from Canada Airport Charts on the NAV CANADA Web site, or from the Canada Air Pilot (CAP)].

Before start:

  1. Always refer to the aircraft's POH operation checklist. Never rely on memory.
  2. Conduct a walk around of the aircraft and area for foreign object damage (FOD), loose items, control locks, inlet plugs, covers, chocks, tow-bars and tie downs.
  3. Check for personnel or parked aircraft nearby. Reposition the aircraft to prevent damage or injuries.
  4. Verify that the nose gear torque links attachment is secure.
  5. Verify all the aircraft fluid levels. Take fuel samples, as appropriate.
  6. Ensure all panels and engine cowlings are in place and secured, as required for engine operation.
  7. Check that all breakers and fuses are set.
  8. Place a fire extinguisher nearby, and have trained personnel on visual watch, as required.
  9. Be familiar with the location of on-board fire extinguishers.
  10. Verify brake operation.
  11. Be familiar with the aircraft communication equipment, frequencies, and radio licence requirements.
  12. Always carry a reliable flashlight when doing functional checks at night.
  13. Be familiar with the aircraft emergency procedure checklist.

During operation and taxiing:

  1. Always maintain communication with ground or apron controller, and report intentions before moving.
  2. Position aircraft into the wind for optimized engine cooling.
  3. Consistently monitor engine parameters from left to right and top to bottom for irregularities.
  4. Always remain within the aircraft operating limitations.
  5. Maintain professionalism in the cockpit.
  6. Do not RUSH!
  7. Keep taxi speeds to a minimum.
  8. While taxiing, keep hands and feet on controls at all times.
  9. Be prepared to shut down the engines.

Secure the aircraft:

  1. Again, refer to the aircraft's POH operation checklist. Never rely on memory.
  2. Follow the recommended engine cool down period.
  3. Ensure all switches are turned off, and breakers are checked.
  4. Visually check fluid levels and surrounding areas for fluid leaks.
  5. Properly secure the aircraft.

As professionals, we must always try to lead by example. So remember, the next time you are heading out to perform an operational check or taxiing, once the main aircraft cabin door is closed and you are sitting at the controls, it is now you, the environment and that precious aircraft!

Tool Control Reminder

A meticulously maintained tool control board enhances safety
A meticulously maintained tool control board enhances safety

The picture above shows an example of a well-executed tool management system, or tool control board, in an aircraft maintenance engineer's (AME) shop on the east coast. The Regional Aviation Safety Officer-Maintenance in Moncton, N.B., Mr. Norbert Belliveau, reports that," since we introduced the Aviation Maintenance Tool Management CD-ROM, many more AMEs and pilot-owners have undertaken to improve their tool control significantly."

The purpose of a truly disciplined and regimented tool management system in aviation is to ensure all tools, without exception, are accounted for before and after every job, and that one tool does not go missing, with the possibility that it was left in the aircraft, in the same way a surgeon would leave a clamp in the body of a patient (it DID happen...). It takes a strong work ethic and applied discipline to achieve a perfect tool management system, and thankfully, licensed aviation personnel have already demonstrated those traits.

Your tool management system should allow you to immediately notice if a tool is missing after all tools are put back in place, either through a numbering system, tool shadows on the board, colour-coding, or combinations of all three. A complete aviation tool inventory check must be done before and after every job. Keep your aviation tools separate from your home tools-we all know the hammer and the vise-grip can go missing at home, but aviation wrenches and wire-cutters must always be accounted for.

The Aviation Maintenance Tool Management CD-ROM (TP 14123) is an educational package aimed at the aerospace industry, and can be used in the teaching of methods to control foreign object damage (FOD) in the various working environments that aircraft engineers and technicians work in. This CD contains a PowerPoint presentation and the video, Foreign Object Damage (TP 14087). Order it today from Transact, the online storefront for Transport Canada publications at, or by calling Transport Canada's Order Desk at 1-888-830-4911.

Civil Aviation Safety Inspector's (CASI) Toolkit CD

Ever wonder what work tools Civil Aviation Safety Inspectors use in the field? One such tool is the CASI Toolkit CD.

The CD contains regulations, guidelines, standards, and forms in a powerful, searchable database. In most cases, the documents are also in PDF format. Transport Canada has also recently decided to terminate the issuance of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) CD and allow all industry users to order the same CD that is issued to Civil Aviation Safety Inspectors every six months.

The CASI Toolkit CD (TP 12916) is available for purchase from Transport Canada's online publications storefront at, or by calling Transport Canada's Order Desk at 1 888 830-4911. You can order either a single automatically shipped to you.

Definitions of Interest...

"Reportable Service Difficulty" means any defect, malfunction or failure of an aeronautical product, component, equipment or part affecting, or that, if not corrected, is likely to affect, the safety of the aircraft, its occupants or any other person.

"Unapproved Part" means any part installed or intended for installation in a type certified aeronautical product, that was not manufactured or certified in accordance with the applicable regulations of the state of production or that is improperly marked or that is documented in such a manner as to mislead with regard to the origin, identity or condition of the part. (Ref.: CAR Standard 591.01 - Service Difficulty Reporting Requirements)

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