About Aviation Enforcement


As a contracting State of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Canada has an obligation to oversee the safe and efficient operation of all aviation activity for which it is responsible. Canada has agreed to the application of Article 12 of the ICAO Convention, Rules of the Air, which simply directs that each contracting State adopt measures to ensure that every aircraft flying over or manoeuvring within it's territory and every aircraft carrying it's nationality mark, wherever such aircraft may be, shall comply with the rules and regulations relating to the flight. As well each contracting State should undertake to insure the prosecution of all persons violating applicable regulations.

Canadian Aeronautics Legislation comprises the Aeronautics Act and the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs). The legislation was created to protect the public from potentially unsafe practices and harmful situations resulting from aviation related activities.

Aviation Enforcement Philosophy

Transport Canada's aviation enforcement policy recognizes the fact that “voluntary compliance” with the regulations is the most progressive and effective approach to achieving aviation safety. It is assumed that most people are rational, responsible, law abiding citizens in their own right and self-interest, and share an interest and commitment to the aviation community. However, for those individuals in the aviation community who are less motivated by such factors as common sense, personal and civil responsibility, pride and professionalism, and especially safety, they will become the focus for enforcement action.

Aviation Enforcement Policy

Fairness and Firmness are the key words in defining the enforcement policy. Primarily public safety and, additionally, economic consequences are considered when determining the appropriate enforcement action to pursue.

Specific courses of action have been established to ensure fairness in the enforcement process and uniformity in the selection of the appropriate deterrent. These actions include:

  • providing “oral counselling” for minor violations where there is no threat to aviation safety;
  • informing offenders of their right to have penalties reviewed by the Civil Aviation Tribunal TATC, and independent quasi-judicial body separate from Transport Canada, and
  • encouraging open communication between alleged offenders and enforcement inspectors, especially in cases where there may be mitigating circumstances.

In the enforcement process firmness is essential when responding to repeated or premeditated actions by individuals displaying wilful and flagrant disregard of the air regulations, thus jeopardizing aviation safety.


The objective of the Transport Canada Aviation Enforcement Program is to promote compliance with aviation regulations in Canada and in the international airspace under Canadian jurisdiction.

Aviation Enforcement Program

four major elements aimed at promoting aviation safety through compliance with the air regulations. These four elements include: Prevention, Detection, Investigation and Deterrent Action.
  • Prevention: Preventive action is intended to reduce violations and promote voluntary compliance. It is achieved through education, licensing and certification, publicity, consultation with industry, routine inspections and field operations, which provide a visible regulatory presence.
  • Detection: The detection of a possible violation of the air regulations may result from activities such as routine inspections, field operations conducted by civil aviation inspectors, or from police reports, Air Traffic Services infraction reports, aircraft accident investigations and public complaints. As well, the Aviation Enforcement Branch conducts regulatory investigations where there are grounds to believe that violations are being committed within the aviation industry. Additional violations may be detected during such an investigation.
  • Investigation: All Transport Canada Civil Aviation inspectors have enforcement responsibilities. However, the Aviation Enforcement Branch has been mandated to conduct comprehensive investigations. These investigations are carried out by Aviation Enforcement Inspectors. An enforcement investigation is a systematic search for and documentation of facts relevant to an occurrence or alleged violation. Depending on the circumstances of the investigation and the requirement for a particular expertise, inspectors from other functional branches within Transport often assist the Enforcement Branch with an investigation. Transport Canada and the RCMP may also conduct joint investigations into aviation related activities
  • Deterrent Action: The most important decision in the enforcement process is determining the penalty to be imposed when the evidence indicates an individual is in violation of an air regulation. Notwithstanding the responsibility to impose a penalty commensurate with other judgments for the same offence in similar circumstances, the penalty must address the seriousness of the incident in relation to aviation safety

Dealing with an alleged violation of the air regulations:

As previously mentioned the detection of a possible violation of the air regulations may result from a citizens complaint, an infraction report forwarded by Air Traffic Services, a routine inspection conducted by Transport Canada (TC) personnel or observations by TC inspectors engaged in field operations. Should a TC inspector observe an individual committing a violation of the regulations, the inspector has the authority to take immediate action. If the violation is minor in nature and inadvertent, or is a safety related violation where there is no direct flight safety hazard, the inspector may simply counsel the individual orally. This action provides the document holder with immediate feed back on the safety aspect of the incident and the necessity for compliance with the regulations.

When a TC inspector observes or is apprised of a possible violation for which Oral Counselling is inappropriate, the inspector should completes a Detection Notice form as the first step in the initial enforcement process, and forward the Detection Notice to the respective Regional Aviation Enforcement Office. The Regional Manager of Aviation Enforcement (RMAE) will review all reports and establish priorities for initiating a comprehensive investigation into alleged violations, depending on the seriousness of the violation and its impact on aviation safety.

Enforcement Actions

Upon completion of an investigation the RMAE will review the case to determine the appropriate deterrent action to impose if the evidence indicates that an individual has contravened a provision of the Aeronautics Act or the CARs. This decision may significantly affect the individuals attitude towards aviation safety and voluntary compliance in the future.

The RMAE will decide whether to proceed administratively or judicially. Judicial action involves the prosecution of the alleged offender in the criminal courts and is only applicable to a few of the provisions of the Aeronautics Act and the CARs. Administrative action comprises all other measures taken by the Minister pursuant to the provisions of the Aeronautics Act, and monetary penalties.


Transport Canada's primary objective is aviation safety, and therefore decisions made by TC inspectors should always reflect this objective. TC inspectors have an inherent legal responsibility within their respective Delegation of Authority to act in the interest of public safety. In promoting voluntary compliance to achieve aviation safety, TC inspectors must also be prepared to take the necessary steps for enforcement action when there is non-compliance with the air regulations.

Enforcement is not an option, 
it is a commitment to aviation safety.

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