1.3 Air Operator Certificate - Statutory Requirement

1. The Aeronautics Act mandates the Minister of Transport to exercise control over aeronautics in Canada. This control is maintained through the issuance of Canadian Aviation documents such as a licence, permit, accreditation, certificate or other document issued by the Minister under Part I of the Act with respect to any person or in respect of any aeronautical product, aerodrome, facility or service. Such documents include Certificates of Registration and Airworthiness, and specifically in respect of commercial air services, an air operator certificate.

The provision of a commercial air service involves a contract between the air operator and the person for whom the service is being provided and could be the transportation or the provision of aerial work operations such as Aerial Inspection and Surveillance. The air operator, in offering to provide a service and accepting payment, must in turn accept the responsibility of providing a satisfactory service, as well as meeting all terms and conditions of the contract, since the user expects assurance and reasonable guarantees of performance. In regard to safety, the public's protection is largely safeguarded, through the Aeronautics Act, the Canadian Aviation Regulations and Commercial Air Service Standards.

These regulations set out the requirements, responsibilities and manner in which an air operator shall conduct its operations and provide Transport Canada, Civil Aviation (TC) with standards for assessing whether an air operator meets (and subsequently continues to meet) the requirements for certification.

If such assessment provides assurance that all crew members are competent, the aircraft are airworthy and suitable for the service, that the air operator has the ability to operate the service safely and properly in accordance with the prescribed standards and procedures, the Minister will issue an air operator certificate, attesting to such.

Notwithstanding the issuance of an air operator certificate by TC, air operators proposing to operate a domestic air service or an international air service require a licence from the Canadian Transportation Agency (Agency), the licensing authority, before commencing operations.

In order to obtain a Licence from the Agency, an air operator shall meet the requirements of section 10 of the Air Transportation Regulations, as follows:

"Section 10.

(1) An applicant for a domestic licence, or for an amendment to or a renewal of such a licence, shall submit to the Agency documentary evidence to establish that the applicant:

  1. is a Canadian or is exempted from that requirement under section 62 of the Act;
  2. holds a Canadian aviation document that is valid in respect of the air service to be provided under the licence;
  3. has the liability insurance coverage required by section 7 in respect of the air service to be provided under the licence and has complied with section 8;
  4. where the applicant is required to meet the financial requirements set out in section 8.1, meets those requirements; and

(2) Every holder of a domestic licence shall, within 30 days after each anniversary date of the licence, file with the Agency a declaration in the form set out in Schedule II."

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