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Business Aviation Tax Opposed

September 15, 2017 in News by Editor

The Canadian Business Aviation Association and the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association are protesting proposed tax changes that could cost private aircraft owners who own their planes in companies a lot in taxes. The Canada Revenue Agency wants to change the way it calculates the taxable benefit that results from the use of business aircraft for personal use. CRA used to assess the value of those flights as comparable to a business class ticket on a scheduled airline but it’s looking at three levels of tax depending on who is sitting in the seat.

If the seat is taken by the guest of an employee of the company that owns the plane, the business class assessment would apply, meaning the guest would have to add the value of a first class ticket to his or her income for the year. The second level is for an employee using the plane for a personal flight. CRA would value that at the same rate as if the employee had to charter an aircraft. The third level is of greatest concern for the groups. If the owner of the company that owns the airplane uses it for personal use, all operating and financing costs would have to be added to the owner’s personal income tax base on his or her proportional use of the aircraft for non-business purposes. A good explanation of the proposal is here.

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‘Nerd Bird’ Floatplane Service Eyed

September 15, 2017 in News by Editor

Harbour Air will launch its so-called “nerd bird” service between Vancouver Harbour and Lake Union in downtown Seattle next spring to link the two high tech centres. Vancouver’s tech sector has grown significantly in recent years and the floatplane connection will allow walking-distance connections between the two. “There’s a lot of interest in it, especially with the Cascadia corridor being created and the high-tech interaction between Vancouver and Seattle,” said Harbour Air CEO Greg McDougall. “It is interesting to see how many people are interested in the high-tech relationships between the two cities, and Portland as well. Creating a transportation link is a vital part in making all that work.”

Even in a Beaver or an Otter, the flight will take less than an hour as opposed to a full day of travel by conventional airline or by car. A Customs facility will be needed at the Vancouver seaplane base in Coal Harbour but Seattle already has one because it gets flights from Victoria. McDougall said they’ll start with four flights a day and adjust depending on demand. The service will be weather dependent, too. Seaplane flights are VFR only and there’s no shortage of rough weather in the Pacific Northwest.

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May Enters Boeing Fray

September 15, 2017 in News by Editor

British Prime Minister Theresa May has entered the fray over Boeing’s trade complaints against Bombardier and has appealed directly to U.S. President Donald Trump in the dispute. A decision will be made Sept. 26 by the U.S. Commerce Department on dumping charges levelled by Boeing after the discounted sale of 75 CSeries airliners to Delta Air Lines. May will be in Ottawa Sept. 18 and high on the agenda is a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the Boeing dispute. Wings for the CSeries are made in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Bombardier is the country’s biggest manufacturer, employing 4,500 people in a politically important region for May.

In fact, May was concerned enough about the potential impact of the dispute that she called Trump to ask him to intervene. If the U.S. agrees with the dumping charge, it could impose crippling penalties on Bombardier that would essentially block access to the U.S. market for the CSeries. The Canadian government has already taken a hard line with Boeing over the dispute, which could cost thousands of jobs in Quebec, where Trudeau’s Liberals need to bolster support. Canada has threatened to cancel a tentative order for 18 Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets if the U.S. presses the complaint.

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YVR Expansion Move Criticized

September 8, 2017 in News by Editor

The City of Richmond, B.C.’s biggest taxpayer is under attack by the municipality because it wants to be even bigger.

Vancouver International Airport is laying the groundwork for the addition of a third east-west runway that will likely be needed to meet capacity requirements in 30 years.

The difficulty is that building heights in the approach/departure paths will have to be trimmed to meet safety standards and Richmond had big (and tall) plans for those areas.

It’s also miffed that YVR went straight to Transport Canada with the proposal without consulting the city.

“The airport authority has unilaterally proceeded with its application to Transport Canada without directly consulting the residents and property owners who will be profoundly impacted by these changes,” Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said in a release.

“There is no valid reason for pushing these changes through without due proper process, particularly given that the proposed runway is not anticipated to be built for decades.”

The airport says it couldn’t get an agreement with the city so it went straight to the feds in the “beginning of a robust, federally-mandated process governed by Transport Canada which includes a detailed consultation schedule.”

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Trudeau Plays Hardball With Boeing

September 8, 2017 in News by Editor

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has continued his novel approach to dealing with trade disputes by targeting the U.S. state most affected by Canada’s current tiff with Boeing.

Trudeau phoned the Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on Tuesday and reminded him how important Canada is to his state. The Boeing F/A Super Hornet is built in St. Louis and the Trudeau Liberals have the last order on the books to keep the massive plant running. Canada wants to buy 18 Super Hornets as an interim measure to maintain fighter coverage while it figures out what aircraft to buy to permanently replace its 30-year-old fleet of CF-18s.

Trudeau has threatened to cancel the current order if Boeing presses its U.S. Commerce Department complaint that Bombardier’s CSeries is being “dumped” in the U.S. thanks to a cut-rate deal with Delta Air Lines for 75 CS100 airliners. Boeing claims the bargain price is made possible by billions of dollars investment and loan guarantees from Quebec and the feds.

Airplanes notwithstanding, it turns out that Canada is Missouri’s largest trading partner and it appears Trudeau used that leverage in his argument. He’s done that before in softwood lumber and coal industries in the face of the U.S.’s renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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Arrow Rocket Model Found

September 8, 2017 in News by Editor

The effort to find rocket-powered scale models of the Avro Arrow that were fired into Lake Ontario in the 1950s hit paydirt recently and the result will be displayed to media Sept. 8.

Raise the Arrow leader John Burzynski confirmed Thursday that sonar, still and video images have confirmed the discovery of one of the models. “We are very pleased and tremendously proud to announce that we have discovered the first example of one of the Arrow models,” Burzynski said.

The model aircraft were used for aerodynamic testing as part of the design process and nine were shot into the lake from Point Pelee on Neme rockets. One of the rockets has also been found.

Details of the recovery are expected at the news conference. The Canada Air and Space Museum has been promised the first one and the search effort is not ending with this example.

The models were part of the design test program for the Avro Arrow at Point Petre in the mid-1950’s, and were an important step in the final design work for the Arrow,” Burzynski said.  “The work continues and we hope to make additional discoveries as the survey progresses.”

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Night Vision Cited In ORNGE Accident

September 1, 2017 in News by Editor

The crown prosecutor in Labour Code proceedings against ORNGE, the Ontario government’s air ambulance service says the service’s refusal to equip its helicopters with night vision goggles was directly responsible for the deaths of two pilots and two paramedics in 2013. “Despite knowing that flight into total darkness was their No. 1 workplace risk, ORNGE did not give these pilots any way to see in the dark or to see the ground,” prosecutor Nick Devlin told the court. ORNGE countered that the pilots flying a helicopter from Moosonee to Attawapiskat in 2013 “had the training, testing, and experience they needed to fly by instruments.”

Night vision goggles are commonly used by medevac aircraft to enhance vision in the difficult circumstances of many flights. On the flight in question, the aircraft inadvertently descended into the forest on a night flight. Devlin alleged in court that if the pilots had been wearing goggles, they would have been able to arrest the descent in time to avoid the crash. Devlin told court that ORNGE had a “corporate culture of ignoring, attacking and ostracizing pilots and managers who expressed safety concerns.” If found guilty, ORNGE could be required to pay a $1 million fine which will ultimately be paid by Ontario taxpayers.

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Bombardier Decision Sept. 25

September 1, 2017 in News by Editor

The U.S. Commerce Department will decide Sept. 25 if it believes, as does its complainant Boeing, that Bombardier is “dumping” CSeries airliners on the market thanks to Canadian subsidies but the decision could have a ripple effect through the Canadian aviation industry. Whether that’s a good or bad thing will depend largely on the federal government’s reaction to that decision. Bombardier sold 75 CSeries to Delta Airlines, with an option for 50 more, and while the unit cost of the aircraft has never been released it’s generally understood that Delta got major discounts. Whether those discounts were made possible by the injection of cash from Canadian and Quebec governments will be the focus of the Commerce Department. Ottawa has politicized the process, however.

Earlier this year, the federal government threatened to walk away from a deal with Boeing to buy 18 Super Hornet fighters to fill a “capability gap” while the long process of replacing the CF-18 fighter fleet grinds on. The 18 aircraft will likely cost about $60 million each plus maintenance, training, and operational costs. The deal has been heavily criticized as an expensive and even unnecessary stopgap. Boeing does a lot of business in Canada and the impact of that kind of retaliation could be widespread if the world’s biggest planemaker decides to strike back. An all-out war between Canada and Boeing could also open the door for other aviation companies to fill the inevitable gaps and opportunities that would create.

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Viking Eyes CL-415 Production

September 1, 2017 in News by Editor

As expected, Viking Aircraft is taking formal first steps that could lead to the resumption of production of the CL-415 firefighting/reconnaissance aircraft. Viking CEO Dave Curtis told the Victoria Times Colonist he will shortly make a case before the company’s board of directors to explore building the aircraft again. Viking bought the type certification to the CL-415, CL-215T and CL-215 last year and initially said the plan was to make parts to support the existing fleet of about 180 aircraft. But Mother Nature has intervened and the admittedly pricey (about $40 million) turboprop water scooping amphibs have some unique capabilities that are increasingly in demand.

This year could be among the worst for wildfires all over the world and while the trend has been to use smaller aircraft in repeated and precise aerial attacks, there are times when a big wallop of water (1621 U.S. gallons) is what’s needed. “We have interest from around the globe,” Curtis told the newspaper. The parts and support business was set up in Calgary so it seems likely that manufacturing would happen there, too. Viking has paused production of its Series 400 Twin Otter while it drums up more business for the aircraft.

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CBAA/ADSE Meeting Breaks New Ground

August 17, 2017 in News by Editor

The Canadian Business Aviation Association says its recent collaborative effort with the Aerospace Defence and Security Expo “broke new ground with expanded educational and exhibition opportunities that will set a new standard for high-value convention and education activities in the future.”

The combined attraction of the two major associations drew top speakers from government and aviation groups and resulted in numerous panel discussions and seminars at the Abbotsford Trade and Convention Centre.

The static display was among the largest in recent memory with almost two dozen aircraft around the venue.

As the CBAA/ADSE show ended, the Abbotsford International Air Show took off and some delegates stayed for that event.

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CS100 Serving London City

August 17, 2017 in News by Editor

Swiss International Airlines has begun service to London City Centre Airport using Bombardier CS100 airliners, the largest aircraft to regularly use the airport.

To get into City Centre, the approach is at 5.5 degrees rather than the customary three degrees of glide slope. The short runway restricts capacity on the 125-seat aircraft to a maximum of 108. Swiss reduced the passenger load by creating a business class in which the middle seats are empty.

Even with the reduced capacity, the CS100 is still 10 percent bigger than the RJ85 it’s replacing. The successful integration of the aircraft to the airport opens up new markets for the CSeries.

Because of its efficiency, the aircraft is able to fly across the Atlantic to eastern Canada and the lucrative markets of the U.S. Northeast. Direct flights to the downtown airport in London would be attractive to business customers especially and although the aircraft is a lot smaller than other airframes used on transatlantic routes, passenger comfort is generally rated high.

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Air Canada Mishap Sparks SFO Changes

August 17, 2017 in News by Editor

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has changed night procedures and staffing requirements at San Francisco International Airport in response to a close call by an Air Canada flight in July.

The A320 from Toronto was cleared to land on Runway 28R and Runway 28L was closed. The crew mistook the open runway for the closed runway and headed for the taxiway, which had four other airliners on it taxiing or waiting to take off. The Airbus descended to 59 feet above the taxiway before climbing away in the go-around.

In response to the mishap, the FAA has announced that it will no longer allow visual approaches when an adjacent runway is shut down at night. It’s also requiring two controllers be on duty during the busy late-night period when a lot of overseas flights leave SFO.

The incident is being investigated by U.S. authorities and it’s also getting a lot of internal attention at Air Canada with CEO Calin Rovenescu reportedly directly involved in the investigation.

The FAA has been criticized for its handling of the incident because it didn’t obtain the cockpit voice recorder or interview the pilots immediately. The crew flew a return flight to Toronto the next day and the tapes were overwritten.

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New Iqaluit Terminal Open

August 11, 2017 in News by Editor

An aviation legend in the North has been put out to pasture but no one seems to mind. The iconic yellow terminal building at Iqaluit Airport ceased operations on Wednesday to make way for a $150 million replacement terminal. “Everything is actually working the way it’s supposed to and we’re hoping it’s going to be a big success,” John Hawkins, director of the Iqaluit International Airport told the CBC.

The new terminal is eight times the size of the stoic old structure, which will continue to be used for office space. The airport serves the government seat of Nunavut and will do so for at least the next 50 years. Another $150 million was spent on runway and ramp improvements, bringing Iqaluit into line with southern airports in terms of facilities. There are also retail outlets and a cafe in the new building.

 

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Respect Fire NOTAMS

August 11, 2017 in News by Editor

There are lots of NOTAMs for fire suppression in B.C. and not all of them are being respected. B.C. has more than 100 active fires and generally there’s a 10nm radius restricted area around them so aerial firefighting aircraft can operate. Also, because of the heavy smoke blanketing the southern half of the province, some of the uncontrolled airspace is VMC. While most pilots can find a way through the patchwork of restricted airspace, the popular Rogers Pass VFR route through the Rockies between B.C. and Alberta is a little different. It’s effectively blocked by two fires west of Golden and pilots are busting the airspace.

Shelley Bird, spokeswoman for Parks Canada in that area, sent this advisory to aviation media on Wednesday. “I just wanted to send out a reminder of the current advisory for flights through Rogers Pass (between Revelstoke and Golden, British Columbia). Parks Canada and BC Wildfire Service fire crews are actively managing two wildfires in the area. Due to the steep terrain, fire suppression is done primarily by helicopter. At times there are between three to nine helicopters operating in the narrow valleys of Glacier National Park. An advisory is currently in place (see NOTAM #170983) but small fixed wing aircraft have been spotted entering the area recently. The safety of the public, our crews, infrastructure and neighbouring lands is Parks Canada’s top priority. We would like to remind pilots to please avoid the area as described in the NOTAM while fire management operations are on-going.”

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Pearson Ground Procedures Scrutinized

August 11, 2017 in News by Editor

The Transportation Safety Board is launching a special review of operations at Pearson Airport in Toronto trying to get to the bottom of a series of runway incursions. Some of the close calls could have developed into serious accidents and the TSB wants to know what can be done to stem the unusual rate of occurrences. The TSB is the first to say that the mistakes, so far, have been caught in time and haven’t been serious in themselves but might be a symptom of systemic errors in the airport’s operation and the flight crews’ reaction to navigating the massive airport that could be better.

“That’s something we need to look at in all these events, what the crews were doing, who was doing what, who was looking where,” Ewan Tasker regional manager for air investigations for the TSB told the Toronto Star. There have been more than 20 incursions or close calls at Pearson in the last five years and while it’s not statistically significant for an airport that does hundreds of movements a day, it’s also the most heavily monitored facility in Canada and the mistakes need analysis. “We’re very aware of a broader systemic issue,” Tasker said. “Some of the worst aviation disasters in history have been due to a runway incursion of sorts. So it’s a very serious issue.”