Airlines Avoid Alcohol Test Mandate

February 23, 2017 in News by David Niles

Transport Minister Marc Garneau has put airlines on notice about impaired pilots.

Canada’s eight largest airlines appear to have headed off mandatory random drug and alcohol testing for flight crews but Transport Minister Marc Garneau has reminded them they’re being watched.

After a Sunwing captain passed out drunk in the cockpit of the Boeing 737 he was supposed to command to Regina and Cancun last Dec. 31, Garneau ordered airlines to report on their procedures to prevent such a thing from happening.

By last week the airlines had confirmed they “have proper safety protocols in place to deal with alcohol and drug testing” according to a statement released by Transport Canada.

The government punctuated its statement with an admonition that it’s a criminal offense for anyone to fly an aircraft within eight hours of drinking alcohol and that it’s up to the airlines “ensure that their employees follow [the regulations].”

“As a commercial air carrier authorised to carry passengers in Canada, you have an obligation to ensure that flight crew members are fit to fly when requiring them to carry out such responsibilities,” he said.

The Sunwing pilot, a Slovakian on a Canadian work permit, was arrested and charged.

Last July two Air Transat pilots were arrested for drunkeness at Glasgow Airport in Scotland just before taking 250 passengers back to Canada.

Transport Canada is going ahead with plans for a “Fit to Fly” workshop next June and discussion of random alcohol and drug testing is on the agenda.

U.S. airlines are required to conduct random drug and alcohol testing for their flight crew and results have consistently shown a statistically insignificant positive rate.

Bombardier Loan ‘Legal’

February 23, 2017 in News by David Niles

The Global 7000 program will benefit from a loan from the federal government.

Bombardier has hit back at allegations by Brazil-based Embraer that a $372.5 million loan from the Canadian government violates international trade laws.

In an op-ed article published in the Globe and Mail, Mike Nadolski, Bombardier’s vice president of communications and public affairs said the loan agreement was specifically structured to ensure compliance with trade laws.

Nadolski noted that all countries financially support their aerospace industries, Brazil included, and that Embraer is under investigation for a variety of alleged financial transgressions and trade violations.

“Canada, on the other hand, has chosen to provide its support to Bombardier in a manner that respects international rules,” he wrote. “For example, when Quebec made an equity investment in Bombardier’s C Series program, it was done on terms consistent with those required by private investors.”

The loan will be used to fund development of the CSeries and Global 7000 business jet programs, both marquee projects that have gone off schedule and over budget.

The programs pushed Bombardier to the financial brink and the company has received $2.5 billion in government funding in the last two years.

The federal loan is repayable over the next 15 years.

New Laser Protection Developed

February 23, 2017 in News by David Niles

Metamaterial Technologies has developed a new laser film.

A Nova Scotia company has invented a window film that protects pilots against laser attacks.

Metamaterial Technologies Inc. (MTI) nannounced this week that it has reached a deal with Airbus who will test the material for possible use on its products.

The film reflects laser light but is transparent to normal light intensities. It is colour-neutral, which means that if it reflects a green laser it won’t leave behind a magenta tinge.

Laser strikes are becoming a major problem and thousands are reported every year.

MTI CEO George Palikaras told reporters, the problem will only get worse as lasers find their way into more and more devices.

“There are lasers in everything, in everyday equipment including your Xbox and your Playstation (which) has blue lasers,” he said. “You can scavenge a lot of the lasers and create a powerful device, unfortunately.”

In most cases, laser strikes cause only momentary distraction but several pilots have reported temporary vision damage.

Super Hornets Will ‘Weaken’ RCAF

February 23, 2017 in News by David Niles

Super Hornet Deal is ill conceived say researchers.

Two leading defence analysts have concluded that the federal government’s plan to buy 18 Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets as a stopgap measure in the tortured fighter replacement program will actually weaken Canada’s air defences and make it Luddite among its allies.

In a paper released this week, Dr. Gary Schaub, Jr., a senior military researcher at the University of Copenhagen and Richard Shimooka, a research fellow at the Conference of Defence Associations Institute said adding 18 Super Hornets to the RCAF’s fleet of 76 CF-18 Hornets will dilute its capabilies and delay the inevitable need to upgrade to a fifth generation fighter.

“In the not-to-distant future, Canada’s potential contribution to an allied air campaign will be negligible, and may even be seen as a liability to NATO planners,” the researchers concluded.

Last November, the feds announced plans to consider buying the 18 Super Hornets to fill a “capability gap” that several senior commanders had already said doesn’t exist.

The 18 planes will do little to enhance Canada’s ability to fulfill its domestic, NORAD and NATO requirements, the researchers say. Not only will they not be fully interoperable with the F-35 and F-22 fighters that will lead future aerial battles, they’ll be sitting ducks for modern antiaircraft missiles.

In that context, the researchers say the CF-18s will be virtually useless and the Super Hornets not much better in a modern threat environment.

The government already knows all this because it commissioned its own study in 2014 that reached the same conclusions. That report is now no longer available on the government Web site.

Schaub and Shimooka have reached the same conclusion that political analysts have and regard the Super Hornet deal as a way to allow Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to keep his campaign promise to not buy F-35s.

“Trudeau’s adherence to a misguided pre-election statement will be seen as more than mismanagement but rather as a deliberate choice to reduce Canada’s airpower capabilities while expending resources that could have otherwise enhanced them,” the researchers said.

Two Instructors Die in Crash

February 16, 2017 in News by David Niles

Tecnam P2006T owned by Mount Royal University.

Mount Royal University in Calgary temporarily grounded all its aircraft Tuesday after two of its instructors died in the crash of their Tecnam P2006T northeast of the city on Monday.

They were identified Wednesday as Jeffrey Bird and Reynold Johnson. Bird was a former military flight instructor and Johnson a retired airline pilot who had more than 30 years of airline experience.

The crash, which occurred about 5 p.m. was witnessed from the air by another aircraft and reported by radio. The aircraft was on a routine flight and in a practice area near Cochrane normally used for instruction.

The circumstances of the crash and details of the eyewitness account have not been released.

“We don’t know the cause. It’s too early to say anything definitive but the planes are on the ground right now,” said MRU President David Docherty.

The school has five single engine Cessnas and had three of the Tecnams, which are light Rotax-powered twins made in Italy.

Pizza For the Competition

February 16, 2017 in News by David Niles

Fredericton Airport at night.

Some stranded Air Canada passengers are singing the praises of a WestJet pilot who bought them pizza after their own airline told them there was no food available.

The unidentified WestJet pilot called a local pizza place in Fredericton after a planeload of Air Canada passengers landed back there when their plane couldn’t land in St. John’s because of bad weather. It was after midnight and Air Canada staff had told them no food was available.

“Out of nowhere, a WestJet pilot emerged and said, ‘Hey … I am from WestJet and we do things differently. Who wants pizza?'” passenger John Samms told CBC’s St. John’s Morning Show.

Within a half hour, the pizzas arrived and the pilot paid for them out of his own pocket.

Air Canada confirmed the incident and referred to the WestJet pilot as a “a caring customer, an airline employee himself” who “stepped up” in its own staff’s absence. The WestJet pilot might have been commuting under the seat sharing arrangements that airlines have to move staff around.

“Clearly we should have done better for our customers,” a spokesman told CBC.

CAE Wins C295 Training Contract

February 16, 2017 in News by David Niles

Artist’s rendering of new Comox training centre.

Airbus has awarded the contract to provide a full suite of training services for the C295 fixed wing search and rescue program.

The contract could be worth as much as $300 million if all the options are exercised. The first $200 million over the next 11 years and another $100 million if the contract is extended for another 15 years.

The contract includes construction of a training facility at CFB Comox to house a full motion simulator plus a host of simulators to train rear cabin crew, including sensor operators. There will also be procedures trainers and a maintenance trainer.

“We are honoured to serve as the training systems integrator to lead the overall design and development of a comprehensive C295W training solution for aircrews and maintainers,” said Joe Armstrong, Vice President and General Manager, CAE Canada. “The search and rescue mission in Canada is both critical and challenging, and we are proud that we will play a role in helping train and prepare the RCAF for this mission.”

The federal government announced in December it was buying 16 C295s and deploying them at bases in Trenton, Ontario, Winnipeg and Comox.

They will replace ancient Buffalo aircraft based in Comox and older model C-130s at Trenton.

The program will create 300 jobs in the construction phase and 50 ongoing jobs.

Fairview Canso First Flight June 18

February 9, 2017 in News by David Niles

Fairview volunteers shortly after they salvaged a Canso.

The remarkable journey of a PBY-5A from the edge of a northern lake to a touchstone for Canadian aviation history will end, and begin, June 18 with the official first flight of C-FNJE at Fairview Airport in northern Alberta.

The Canso, as Canadian versions of the Consolidated Vultee design were known, recently received approval from Transport Canada after an amazing recovery and restoration effort in Fairview, Alberta by the Fairview Aircraft Restoration Society.

The aircraft crash landed and sank in Sitigi Lake, near Inuvik, in 2001. It was being operated by Buffalo Airways as a waterbomber. A Buffalo crew pulled the wreck from the bottom of the lake and took the engines, leaving the distinctive green and orange hulk to overlook the lake for what they assumed would be forever.

Six farmers from Fairview dragged the hulk from the lake to Inuvik where they barged it to Hay River. From there it was trucked to Fairview.

Since 2008, the society has been working on fixing the crash damage and refurbishing all the systems to return the aircraft to the air.

The official first flight will take place at the Fairview Flying Club’s annual Father’s Day fly-in and two pilots who had time on the Canso during the Second World War will be on hand to talk about the aircraft and their experiences.

Buy An Arctic Tour Kilometre

February 9, 2017 in News by David Niles

The Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour has begun a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for an ambitious air show tour of dozens of northern communities this summer.

Supporters are invited to “buy a kilometre” of the 31,000 km tour that will take top air show acts to far flung communities that dot the Arctic.

“For only $25 CDN, you can purchase one of the tour’s 31,000 kilometres to have it dedicated in your name and receive an official CAAT 2017 certificate,” the organization said in a news release. “The best part is that 100 percent of your donation will go towards achieving all the goals of this historic event!”

In addition to providing aerial entertainment never seen in some of the tiny communities, the tour promises to inspire and educate northern residents.

“The CAAT Team is delivering an innovative education platform with community and thought leaders across Canada’s North that will complement the air show tour,” the group said. “We plan to educate Canada about the diversity within indigenous cultures while inspiring and empowering the thousands of young people who often live in isolated communities to build opportunities and live their dreams.”

The group is hoping to raise $1 million to help bring air shows to 97 communities north of the 60th parallel over the summer and fill a gap in the lavish cross country celebrations promised in southern Canada.

Contributions are rolling in and can be made here.

Engine Swap At -30

February 9, 2017 in News by David Niles

An engine change at -30 in Iqaluit.

Aviation companies in Iqaluit rallied to help a Swiss Air International maintenance crew navigate some unfamiliar territory this week.

On Feb. 1, A SwissAir Boeing 777 on its way to Los Angeles from Zurich had to divert to Iqaluit with an engine failure. Another plane was sent from New York to get the 233 passengers and crew but the 777 wasn’t going anywhere without another engine.

The airline sent a new one via a chartered An-124 and local companies First Air and Touchdown Services helped the Swiss mechanics get the job done.

The big airplane wouldn’t fit any hangars so an insulated tent had to be put up around the engine and heaters put inside to get the workers out of the -30 weather.

The engine is reportedly in and will be tested Thursday with a tentative departure for the aircraft of late in the afternoon.

Travel Ban Hurts Student Pilot

February 2, 2017 in News by David Niles

Bardia Salimkhani can’t go on a long cross country to the U.S.

An Iranian student pilot training in Manitoba has been caught up in U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration ban.

Bardi Salimkhani was due to go on a long cross country flight through the U.S. with his aviation degree program classmates at Providence University College, a Christian post secondary school  in Otterburne, 50 km. south of Winnipeg.

It’s a mandatory part of the school’s curriculum but Salimkhani is an Iranian citizen. People from Iran and six other predominantly Muslim countries have been temporarily banned from entering the U.S. thanks to an executive order signed by Trump last week.

“It’s definitely stressful being so close to graduation and that’s the only requirement I have left,” he told the Winnipeg Free Press. “It was really unexpected.”

Salimkhani went to the U.S. consulate in Calgary in early January to get the necessary visas to make the trip but all of those approvals have been cancelled.

On the trip, the students fly to Texas and then return by going up the west coast of the U.S.

“What you learn from this trip is you fly through every American air space,” he said from the school in Otterburne, 50 kilometres south of Winnipeg. “It’s a great learning experience and I’ve waited four years for this opportunity,” said Salimkhani.

School officials are now trying to figure out how to get Salimkhani the credits he needs without going on the trip but criticized the Trump regime for its action.

“As a Christian academic community in the evangelical tradition, we strive to exemplify the gospel of grace by upholding the dignity of, showing respect to and serving all people regardless of race, religion or culture,” the release said.

Super Hornets By 2019

February 2, 2017 in News by David Niles

The Super Hornet and F-35 price gap is narrowing.

Canada will get its first of 18 Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets in 2019 but the fourth generation fighters might not look like much of a bargain by that time according to a CBC report.

The Super Hornets are expected to cost as much as $120 million each, depending on how they’re equipped according the network.

But now that U.S. President Donald Trump is claiming he’s talked Lockheed Martin down to about $111 million for an F-35, the cost-benefit analysis looks a little more complicated.

The Liberal government cited cost as a major factor in its decision to buy Super Hornets as a “stopgap” to fill out its fighter squadrons. Military leaders have said they don’t really need the jets as long as there’s a firm plan to get permanent replacements soon.

With the much more modern and stealthy F-35 in the same price range as the Super Hornets, coupled with the guaranteed industrial offsets included with Canada’s participation in the F-35 program, the 18 Super Hornets may actually be more expensive.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said the final cost of the Super Hornets will be clearly explained. It’s estimated that by the time ongoing maintenance costs are included the program will cost up to $7 billion over its life.

Air Georgian Pilots Join ALPA

February 2, 2017 in News by David Niles

Air Georgian pilots are now members of ALPA.

Pilots who fly for Air Georgian, which operates regional service for Air Canada in Ontario and the West, have voted overwhelmingly to join the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA)

“We welcome our more than 230 colleagues at Air Georgian and look forward to the contributions they will bring to our union,” said ALPA president, Capt. Tim Canoll. “Air Georgian pilots are committed to advancing their careers and, by gaining access to ALPA’s professional resources, are now poised to achieve their goals. Through collaborative efforts, ALPA pilots across North America help to advance our profession and ensure that we maintain the safest air transport systems in the world.”

More than 85 percent of the pilots voted 99 percent in favour of the move to ALPA. They previously had their own union.

ALPA represents pilots at most Canadian airlines and is making a determined effort to organize WestJet pilots.

Air Georgian Capt. Robert McCallum, who headed the organizing committee, said the goal is for the pilots and company to benefit from the shift.

“The pilots at Air Georgian play a crucial role in the success of our company, and we look forward to advancing that success with ALPA as we work with management to achieve our goals.”

TSB Hits ELT Survivability

January 26, 2017 in News by David Niles

Crash scene near Foleyet, Ontario.

The Transportation Safety Board has reiterated its call for improved crash survivability of emergency locator transmitters in its investigation of a 2015 helicopter crash in Ontario.

Two people in the Robinson R-44 were killed in the crash, which occurred while the aircraft was being used in a forest spray operation near Foleyet, Ontario, about 100 km. west of Timmins.

The TSB, which blamed weather and darkness for the accident itself, also mentioned the ELT, which activated but didn’t transmit a signal because the antenna broke.

“The helicopter was equipped with an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) that

activated upon impact; however, it did not transmit its position because the antenna had broken off during the accident,” the report said. “The aircraft was not reported missing until the following day at approximately 1500, which resulted in search and rescue operations being delayed by approximately 20 hours.”

The crash site wasn’t actually found until two days later.

The TSB also hit the crashworthiness of ELTs in its investigation of an ORNGE air ambulance helicopter in Northern Ontario in 2015.

Northern Lights Nominations

January 26, 2017 in News by David Niles

Nominations are now being accepted for the Northern Lights Aero Foundation annual awards.

People are encouraged to enter their picks for female aviation industry leaders in a variety of categories.

“Each year, the national not- for-profit foundation honours outstanding Canadian women who have made a significant contribution to Aviation or Aerospace, and who continue to lay the groundwork for other women to enter or excel in these industries,” the group said in a press release.

Judges from a wide spectrum of aviation industry organizations will choose the

winners, who will be honoured at a dinner and awards ceremony at the Toscana Conference Centre near Toronto on Oct. 1.

Nominations are due March 31 and can be submitted at