Guest Editorial

Industry Leadership Initiatives 

Photo of Trevor Heryet, Regional Director, Civil Aviation, Pacific Region

Trevor Heryet

The Province of British Columbia is one of the most beautiful places in the world, but with this beauty comes many challenges for the aviation industry. The weather can be unpredictable as it is influenced by the vast saltwater coastal areas and the mountains. The mountainous terrain creates aviation challenges such as limited VFR route choices when the ceilings are low, the need for complex instrument approaches, limited low-level communication capabilities, and congested IFR airspace. Historically, aviators in the Pacific Region have not only overcome such challenges, but in many cases, they have seen the challenges as opportunities. For example, some of the smaller communities in B.C. have limited or no road access. These communities rely heavily on the aviation industry to ensure the continued viability of their way of life.

In many cases, the geographical uniqueness of the Pacific Region has created business opportunities for aviators, such as heli-skiing. Locals and tourists from all over the world enjoy skiing through the undeveloped back country. However, in most cases, the only way to get to such locations is by helicopter. The hazards associated with flying in the back country have required initiatives to mitigate the safety risks. Over a decade ago, the Helicopter Association of Canada (HAC) took on the leadership role in helping to address the risks through the development of heli-skiing guidelines and best practices. The efforts paid off and the guidance material is still being used by operators today.

A leadership initiative similar to the HAC was taken by the floatplane operators that use Victoria Harbour for their scheduled service. Victoria Harbour is a unique floatplane operating area, as it closely resembles a land-based airport with respect to its formalized structure and procedures. The structure and procedures of Victoria Harbour were instituted by Transport Canada (TC) after a safety study indicated the need for better management of the vast and diverse mix of traffic in the harbour. The structure allows for the continued use of the harbour by all stakeholders and contributes to the acceptance of aviation activity by the local residents. However, the success of the floatplane operations in the harbour vastly exceeds the formalized structure and procedures. On a monthly basis, the floatplane operators get together with the harbour operator to discuss issues and activities as a collective group rather than individual competitors. Many of the meetings also include the ferry/water-taxi and tugboat/barge operators. At the meetings, the participants check their “colours” at the door in order to achieve solutions that are in the interest of all stakeholders, rather than promoting a myopic view of their specific operations.

It is unfortunate, but sometimes it is tragedy that spurns a leadership initiative. Several years ago, there was a series of fatal accidents that involved a focused part of the west coast aviation sector in the Pacific Region. Civil Aviation and the operators involved were struggling to understand why apparently compliant, professional and safe operations would end in horrific events claiming a total of 23 lives. In response, TC organized and hosted the Floatplane Air Operator’s Workshop, allowing dialogue on pertinent issues affecting that sector of the industry. The outcome of the workshop was an initiative taken by the local floatplane industry to form the Floatplane Operators Association of British Columbia (FOA). The association is now a year old, has 29 members and is already seeing positive benefits of having a collective voice, sharing best practices and making positive gains in achieving a culture of safety. It is hoped that the leadership initiatives taken by the FOA will bring the increased safety that lies beyond merely complying with regulation, while encouraging other floatplane operators to join their quest.

There have been many other leadership initiatives taken by the aviation industry in the Pacific Region; so many in fact, that there is not enough room in this article to mention them all. That being said, there are two initiatives that I will mention as they are not specific to any sector or activity within the aviation industry. The first is the long-standing Safety and Quality Summit facilitated by the CHC Helicopters. For almost a decade CHC has provided the opportunity to industry to dialogue about safety and quality of operations. Themes vary from year to year but the annual event draws guest speakers and delegates from all over the world to share their perspectives on safety and quality.

Another regional event is the annual Aviation Leadership Forum, focused on the leadership required in the aviation industry to initiate and sustain positive change. Highly qualified guest speakers and facilitators provide their insights into solving ongoing challenges. These innovative and non-regulatory solutions also fit well into the red tape reduction framework of the Government of Canada’s regulatory policy, the Cabinet Directive on Streamlining Regulation (CDSR), where regulatory proposals are assessed at an early stage to determine where processes can be streamlined. CDSR aims to make the regulatory system more effective and efficient.

As the new Regional Director, Civil Aviation Pacific Region, I look forward to continuing from where the previous Director, Mr. David Nowzek, left off. The future is full of challenges, but with those challenges come opportunities for improved safety within our industry. We will continue to use risk management in the allocation of our resources and with the conduct of our oversight activities. We will employ a systems approach to managing risks while striving to balance the ever-competing needs of monitoring regulatory compliance and the provision of service delivery to the industry; all in support of TC’s “… vision of a transportation system that is recognized worldwide as safe and secure, efficient and environmentally responsible.”

Trevor J. Heryet
Regional Director, Civil Aviation
Pacific Region

2012 Transport Canada Aviation Safety Award

Mr. John Nehera (right) presentingthe award to Mr. William Amelio

Mr. John Nehera (right) presenting
the award to Mr. William Amelio,
President and CEO of CHC,
sponsor of the Summit.

On March 27, John Nehera, Associate Director, Operations, Pacific Region, recognized the Canadian Helicopter Corporation (CHC) Safety and Quality Summit with the 2012 Transport Canada Aviation Safety Award. Mr. Nehera was invited to speak at this year’s Summit and took the opportunity to present the award certificate signed by Minister Denis Lebel, bestowing congratulations on behalf of the department.

Each year, the Aviation Safety Award acknowledges sustained commitment and exceptional dedication to Canadian aviation safety over an extended period of time. The selection committee unanimously agreed that the outstanding contribution of the CHC Safety and Quality Summit to aviation safety merits the award this year.

Since 2005, the CHC Safety and Quality Summit has succeeded in attracting industry leaders and innovators from the oil and gas, regulatory, aviation and related sectors to strategize improvements in aviation safety world-wide.

True to their theme of “Improving Safety Culture through Talent, Training and Trust,” the CHC Safety and Quality Summit annually attracts hundreds of delegates from across the globe to explore and share tactics and best practices to reduce risk, manage crises and increase safety in aviation.

From its modest origin as a small gathering of international CHC Quality and Safety Managers, the CHC Summit has grown to include a vast network of operators, regulators, insurers, and experts in the field of aviation and its related sectors. To maintain its inclusive, community premise, all CHC Safety and Quality Summits are not-for-profit. This collaborative principle encourages experts and stakeholders to participate for the shared goal of enhanced aviation safety on a global scale.

The CHC Safety and Quality Summit continues to act as an industry leader in innovation and advancement, striving towards greater aviation safety in Canada and world-wide.

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