Guest Editorial

Regional Aviation Safety Council, Atlantic Region

Arthur W. Allan

On February 23, 1909, Canada’s first powered flight took place over the frozen Bras d’Or Lake in Baddeck, N.S., when J.A. Douglas McCurdy, a native of Baddeck, piloted the Silver Dart to the dizzying height of 9m and flew for almost a kilometre at approximately 65km/hr.

The Flight of the Silver Dart took place that day because Dr. Alexander Graham Bell had a vision of powered flight in Canada. He gathered around him a team of folks who shared his passion for aviation and who possessed the skills and knowledge required to bring his vision to reality. They demonstrated clearly what could be achieved by bringing together experts from different disciplines to work together on complex issues. In February 2009, as we gathered in Baddeck and watched the events surrounding the re-enactment of that first flight, those I spoke with reflected on how far we have come in the past one hundred years, and on the opportunities and challenges that lay before us.

With the increasing complexity of our aviation industry, advances in technology, aircraft design, varied operating environments, increasing traffic levels and complex traffic mix, Transport Canada and members of the aviation community must continue working together to identify and discuss issues impacting aviation safety. This is vital to maintaining and improving the high level of aviation safety in Canada.

In the Atlantic Region, our Regional Aviation Safety Council (RASC) provides an opportunity for members of the aviation industry to meet twice a year and identify, discuss, and resolve issues that have the potential to impact aviation safety. Approximately 70 representatives from all aspects of the aviation community attend the RASC. These include air operators, maintenance organizations, airport operators, Canada’s Air Force, representatives from industry associations, labour groups, NAV CANADA and Transport Canada. The Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA) typically holds its Atlantic Chapter meeting the night before to allow their members to attend both events. NAV CANADA holds a Customer Service Forum in the same location on the following day, again, allowing participants to maximize the benefit of their trip to the RASC.

The RASC has existed for many years and, more recently, has evolved into the key regional forum for industry to work collaboratively to resolve issues. The members suggest topics for presentations, and agenda items for discussion. The agenda items are discussed in an open forum with suggestions to resolve issues often proposed and, in many cases, implemented. Some proposals require additional information and/or analysis, which are carried out between the semi-annual sessions by industry participants, NAV CANADA or Transport Canada, as appropriate, and presented at the subsequent meeting. The participation of Canada’s Air Force has increased civilian and military operators’ awareness of each other’s presence in the region.

Over the past few years, discussions initiated at the RASC have resulted in the formation of smaller working groups and committees, operating separately from the RASC, to focus on the specific issues. A recent success story involves the collaborative work of the companies operating into the Dee rLake, N.L., airport. Their initial concerns surrounded IFR traffic congestion at certain times of the day into the uncontrolled airport in a non-radar environment. A working group composed of air operators and NAV CANADA was formed, which allowed the operators to discuss the issues and agree on solutions to address their concerns. As a result of the discussions, and with the agreement of the operators concerned, NAV CANADA implemented a voluntary pilot project involving pre-departure clearances for those companies involved. The project was a success and the pre-departure clearance system is now in place at the Deer Lake airport. A similar agenda item concerned traffic volumes and mix at the Fredericton, N.B., airport, due in large part to the marked increase in flight training activity. This resulted in the formation of a committee-made up of operators, NAV CANADA and the airport authority-which meets monthly to discuss the issues. This has led to many positive initiatives to assist in managing the traffic growth in the short term and maintain a safe operating environment.

A similar agenda item concerned traffic volumes and mix at the Fredericton, N.B., airport, due in large part to the marked increase in flight training activity. This resulted in the formation of a committee-made up of operators, NAV CANADA and the airport authority-which meets monthly to discuss the issues. This has led to many positive initiatives to assist in managing the traffic growth in the short term and maintain a safe operating environment.

Not all issues identified at the RASC can be resolved easily, but those that remain do benefit from the increased awareness resulting from the open discussion that takes place. It is important to note that while Transport Canada acts as the facilitator for the RASC, the issues and agenda items come from the participants; resolving many of those issues depends on industry involvement in identifying workable solutions.

Our latest RASC in May was attended by a member of industry who happened to be in town from another part of the country. He sent us an e-mail afterwards, which I would like to share with you: “Thank you very much for the opportunity to be involved in the Atlantic Regional Aviation Safety Council meeting. I was particularly impressed by the community feeling among the group and that there was acceptance amongst all the participants of the varying types of operations in the region. Each group or presentation had something of value for the others.” It is comments like these that remind us of the value of our collaborative efforts. The participants in the RASC should be proud of their contribution to aviation safety in Canada.

As a final thought, although the RASC is used in our region as a convenient forum to initiate the discussion on many issues, it is not the only avenue. When you identify issues that affect your operation, either as a result of your safety management system (SMS) or other means, I encourage you to reach out to other members of industry-competitors and partners alike-who can contribute to the resolution of those issues.

Experience in our region has clearly shown that, by working together, members of the aviation community can, and do, work their way through the issues, proposing solutions or mitigation that works for them, while at the same time contributing to aviation safety in Canada.

Arthur W. Allan
Regional Director, Civil Aviation
Atlantic Region


Canada-European Union Agreement on Civil Aviation Safety

At the European Union-Canada Summit held in Prague, Czech Republic, on May 6, 2009, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso signed the Canada-European Union Agreement on Civil Aviation Safety. Under the new agreement, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will recognize certification of Canadian aviation products and services, allowing the Canadian aviation industry to be more competitive in the European market. Civil aviation safety will also be enhanced, as EASA and Transport Canada will work co-operatively to resolve unforeseen safety issues. A similar agreement was signed between Canada and the United States in 2000, and has had a positive impact on Canada’s civil aviation industry, resulting in stronger harmonization of safety requirements. The Canada-European Union Agreement on Civil Aviation Safety has been signed by both parties and will enter Parliament for ratification in the upcoming session.

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