WestJet Buying 787-9s

May 4, 2017 in News by David Niles

WestJet will buy up to 20 Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

WestJet is poised to go head to head with Air Canada on lucrative international routes to Asia and Europe with the purchase of up to 20 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.

The company announced earlier this week it will get its first 10 Dreamliners in 2019 and 2021 and has an option to get 10 more by 2024.  It will enable the airline to get rid of the old Boeing 767s it acquired two years ago to handle its limited European and Hawaii service.

The Dreamliners will be able to fly non-stop from Canada to all of the high-revenue destinations Air Canada serves with its mix of Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft.

“This order represents an exciting new chapter in WestJet’s history,” said Gregg Saretsky, WestJet President and CEO. “We have carefully executed on our strategic plan, first launching WestJet Encore to connect smaller communities across Canada to our growing network followed by our successful venture into wide-body flying to Hawaii and London Gatwick. Now, with the most sophisticated commercial airliner available, we turn our attention to further growing our international presence and introducing even more travellers to our award-winning guest experience.”

WestJet and Air Canada have both ordered Boeing 737 MAX jets for North American flights. WestJet will cycle its 737-600, 700 and 800 aircraft through an ultra low cost carrier it plans to start at the end of 2017.

Pilots Call For Fatigue Rules

May 4, 2017 in News by David Niles

Pilot unions are calling for tighter crew rest regulations.

Canada’s four largest pilot unions have joined forces to pressure the federal government into tightening proposed crew rest requirements for commercial pilots.

The Air Canada Pilots Association, Air Line Pilots Association Unifor and Teamsters, which represent 8,000 pilots, say Canada is out of step with other flying nations and its crew rest regulations are “antiquated.”

The Safer Skies campaign is urging Transport Minister Marc Garneau to bring the draft legislation in line with interntational standards.

“For seven years now, we have been mired in a multi-year regulatory review process,” said Captain Dan Adamus, President of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) Canada. “Through this process, we have seen extensive lobbying by airline operators who have essentially – and troublingly – argued that operational considerations are more important than human physiology, science and a concern for safety.”

Pilots want limits not only on flight time but on shift duration and special consideration for night operations based on scientific research on how humans react to fatigue.

After a fatigue-related accident in Buffalo, New York in 2009, the U.S. Congress mandated a variety of crew rest requirements that even exceed international standards.

“Americans learned the hard way, but we don’t have to,” said François Laporte, President, Teamsters Canada. “Let’s not wait until after an accident to update the rules on fatigue. The government needs to make this right – lives are at stake.”

Aero150 Hampered By Rain

May 4, 2017 in News by David Niles

Despite sleet, near freezing temperatures and a generally miserable day, the French Air Force’s Patrouille de France were able to wow a determined air show crowd at Aero150 in Gatinueau April 30.

The eight-plane formation performed with the Snowbirds at the early air show, which was hastily arranged to take advantage of the French team’s April tour of the U.S.

Gatineau usually has its show in summer but it shifted to April 30 to accommodate the French team’s schedule.

The Snowbirds shifted their schedule to be at the show, too, using Gatineau to launch their season when they normally head for more convivial conditions in the U.S. for the early dates.

Those who braved the weather were thrilled with the show, which also included aircraft from Vintage Wings of Canada’s collection along with other warbirds.

No-Frills Plan Boosts Union Bid

April 27, 2017 in News by David Niles

WestJet pilots have launched a new unionization push.

WestJet’s announcement that it will be spinning off a no-frills carrier by the end of the year may mean the end of its admittedly tenuous status as a non-union company.

The airline has used profit sharing and a team concept to try to prevent certification and narrowly avoided it with both pilots and flight attendants in 2015.

But with news that a new bargain carrier is being created may have become a rallying point for employees to sign cards.

Pilots upped the ante by inviting the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) to organize another union drive.

“WestJet pilots have demonstrated the pilot unity needed to certify a union on the property, and we believe WestJet pilots will be successful in their election for ALPA representation,” ALPA President Capt. tim Canoll said in a statement. “The WestJet pilots work for a profitable and productive company, and with the vast resources available through ALPA representation, they will begin the process to legally negotiate the terms of their employment and establish a collective bargaining agreement under the Canada Labour Code that other union-represented aviation groups in Canada enjoy today.”

Meanwhile, the pro-union WestJet Professional Flight Attendants Association issued a statement saying the no-frills prospect “shows how important it is for WestJet flight attendants to have an independent union negotiating job security, work rules and compensation.”

Summit Air Expands

April 27, 2017 in News by David Niles

Summit Air has added an RJ-100 to its fleet.

Summit Air has anounced it’s building a new operating base at Calgary International Airport and added its largest aircraft to date to its fleet.

The company, which is a subsidiary of construction giant Ledcor, specializes in fly-in, fly-out services to mining operations in the North from Edmonton and Yellowknife.

“We have had a Calgary base in our plans for a number of years. Some of our clients have come to us recently and expressed a desire to move their workforce rotations out of Calgary which aligned well with our long-term strategy,” said Paul McElligott, President of Summit Air and President & COO, Ledcor Resources and Transportation. “Adding Calgary as an operational base will facilitate further growth into the southern markets not currently serviced by Summit Air and will help connect our jet fleet flights to Canada’s third largest airport, and its network of national and international flights.”

The company has added an AVRO RJ-100 to its fleet of RJ-85s. The high-wing jets can operate from gravel runways common at mining operations and have self contained airstairs and APUs to allow operation into unserviced fields. The new aircraft seats 111 passengers and the 85s seat 90.

The Calgary base will open in the next few months.

Voyageur Completes Dash 8 Freighter

April 27, 2017 in News by David Niles

Wasaya Airways is taking Voyageur Aviation’s first two Dash 8 freighters.

North Bay-based Voyageur Aviation has completed it first conversion of a Dash 8-100 for freight service.

The company unveiled the first completion last week at its North Bay hangar and announced Wasaya Airways as launch customer.

The high-wing turboprop will be used on unimproved runways throughout the North, replacing Hawker Siddeley HS 748s and Cessna 206s.

The new aircraft will carry up to 4,500 kilograms or 39 cubic metres of freight and includes an aft cargo door for easy loading.

The first aircraft will go to Wasaya shortly and a second will follow by this summer. Wasaya could take as many as 15 aircraft.

“It’s a fantastic machine and we have great aspirations for it,” said Wasaya CEO Michael Rodyniuk.

Voyageur is looking for new customers for the conversion, too. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Chorus Aviation, which also owns Jazz.

CSeries Approved For London City

April 27, 2017 in News by David Niles

CSeries can fly non-stop from London City to the Eastern U.S.

Transport Canada and the European Aviation Safety Agency have approved Bombardier CS100 airliner for service to London City Centre Airport.

And that means Bombardier can sell the aircraft to airlines that want to provide non-stop service from the convenient downtown London airport to eastern U.S. cities.

Most of the aircraft that use the downtown airport are regional flights with limited range.

The CSeries offers a realistic transatlantic option from the airport.

Central to the approval was certifying the CSeries for steep approaches of six degrees. Swiss International Airlines will start service to the airport later this year.

Although London was the prize in the certification, it will also clear the plane for use at airports in Lhasa Tibet and Haifa, Israel. Also mentioned  was Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto but the obstacles there are less technical and more political.

A330 Loses Wheel

April 20, 2017 in News by David Niles

An Air Canada A330 lost a wheel during taxi at Dorval on Monday.

Ground crews at London’s Heathrow Airport were surprised to find an Air Canada A330 missing one of four wheels on its right main gear when it landed there on Monday.

The aircraft took off from Montreal seven hours earlier and left the wheel in Montreal beside a runway. It apparently rolled away while the aircraft was taxiing for takeoff.

No one noticed anything amiss in the takeoff roll or landing and Air Canada said the mishap, attributed to bearing failure, never endangered the flight, despite breathless mainstream media accounts that suggested something serious had happened.

“As the landing gear is comprised of eight wheels in addition the two nose wheels, this had no impact on the safe operation of the flight,” spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur told the CBC.

The aircraft was supposed to do a fast turn in London for a return trip to Montreal but had to be fixed first so the passengers had to be put on other flights.
How the wheel came loose is being investigated but the airline insists the airplane was properly maintained.

Rouge Pilot Collapses On Final

April 20, 2017 in News by David Niles

The pilot flying on a Rouge flight collapsed on final.

An Air Canada Rouge lost consciousness as the aircraft approached Pearson International Airport on April 3.

The flight was enroute from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and set up for the runway when the pilot flying collapsed.

The pilot monitoring (PM) took immediate control and landed the aircraft without further incident,” said the CADORS report.  “The pilot regained consciousness at some point during short final or after touchdown. The pilot sought medical attention immediately after the conclusion of the flight.”

The airline downplayed the incident despite the rarity of pilot incapacitation, especially in critical phases of flight.

“While this situation is certainly not something we experience often, all crew members are trained and qualified to manage a flight to landing under a single pilot operation – if needed,” Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick told CTV News.

TC Defends Simulator Training

April 20, 2017 in News by David Niles

Most Transport Canada don’t fly airplanes anymore.

Transport Canada’s director general Aaron McCrorie defended cuts to training flights for its inspectors in Parliament on Tuesday saying they’re actually better off learning on the ground.

“You can actually get better training with a simulator,” he said in testimony before the House of Commons Transport Committee.

McCrorie was responding to questions from committe members about a survey conducted by the union representing TC inspector pilots that said 80 percent of its members though safety was being compromised by moving training from the cockpit to the simulator.

The change in training focus came with sharp budget cuts to the inspector flight training budget and the pilots are now able to be fully checked out without ever leaving the ground.

McCrorie told the committee that there are  “better, more efficient pilots coming out of the simulator stream.”

He was backed up by Denis Guindon, director general for aviation safety oversight and transformation said simulators can replicate situations that are too dangerous to try in flight and modern sims replicate “everything down to the last two feet.”

TC has cut its training budget from $8 million to $3.5 million and financial constraints are thought to be the real reason TC inspectors hardly ever fly anymore. The Canadian Federal Pilots Association says its survey found two thirds of TC inspector pilots haven’t flown a plane in the last year.

TC spokeswoman Natasha Gauthier told the National Observer last week that the department has “revised its flying program” using “the latest simulator technology” and said it’s in line with international standards.

Pearson Delays Ripple

April 20, 2017 in News by David Niles

Runway construction has reduced access to Pearson.

Reconstruction of a main runway at Canada’s busiest airport has caused rippling cancellations, particularly among regional airlines.

Runway 05/23 will be out of service until the end of May and that has caused some slot problems.

Most cancellations have affected regional airlines and London International Airport has had 10 Toronto flights cancelled in the last couple of weeks.

“There have been cancellations and we are concerned,” said Mike Seabrook, the airport’s chief executive told the London Free Press.

“They (Air Canada) are between a rock and a hard place. Pearson has to do airport maintenance. They are not going to cancel flights from Heathrow or Beijing.”

The closure also affects business and general aviation traffic. Slots are required for all such traffic and no arrival slots will be issued from 3 p.m. to 7:59 p.m.


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Beauty in Beastly Weather

April 12, 2017 in News by admin

Photographer Ken Lin has taken some spectacular images of the Canada 150 Hornet.

The RCAF is putting its air demonstration teams through their paces in Comox, B.C. this week as they get ready for the six-month air show season.

The Snowbirds and CF-18 demo teams typically spend a couple of weeks on normally-balmy Vancouver Island in April to put the final touches on their routines before hitting the road.

The weather has been rainy and cold, with some warm sunny days, but the flying goes on and our photographer Ken Lin has found ways to get some spectacular images because of, rather than in spite of, the challenging conditions.

The newly-painted CF-18, sporting a red and white Canada 150 theme, has been a show stopper for those who gather at the observation areas around the base to watch the shows come together.

The intricate design came from Jim Belliveau, who has been the brainchild behind the elaborately painted fighters for more than 10 years. See more photos on our Facebook page.

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Vimy Mission Accomplished

April 12, 2017 in News by admin

Five replica biplanes fly past the Vimy Monument April 9. Photo by Alexandre Dlulaba.

Five replica First World War biplanes flew around the Vimy Monument in France on April 9 as part of a huge ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the epic battle.

The aircraft, four Nieuport 11s and an SE-5, duplicated an honour flight that took place in 1936 marking the dedication of the monument.

After Sunday’s flight, Lt. Gen. Mike Hood, commander of the RCAF, presented the five pilots and four support personnel in France medals commemorating their historic flight.

Those receiving the medals were Allan SnowieDale Erhart,B Rent Handy,  Peter ThorntonLarry RickerPaul O’Reilly , David Wilson , Al French and Will McEwan.

With the Vimy flight behind them, the group now has to disassemble the aircraft and load them aboard a C-17 for transport to Greenwood, Nova Scotia, where they’ll begin a cross-Canada educational tour.

Although much of that trip will involve appearances at high schools and halls across the country, there will be at least one more high-profile flight.

The biplanes will join the Snowbirds for a flight over Parliament Hill on Canada Day.

The main thrust of the cross-Canada mission is to educate Canadians about the importance of the Battle of Vimy to the evolution of Canada as a nation.

It was the first time Canadian troops had gone to battle as a unified force and not as part of British-led operation.

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Bombardier Chairman Cuts Pay

April 12, 2017 in News by admin

Bombardier Chairman Pierre Beaudoin is taking a $1.4 million pay cut.

Bombardier’s board of directors has approved cutting Executive Chairman Pierre Beaudoin’s pay by $1.4 million USD to his 2015 rate of $3.8 million USD.

The pay cut was requested by Beaudoin after filing documents made public last month revealed that the total compensation for senior executives jumped 50 percent from $21.9 million USD to $32.7 million USD. Previously CEO Alain Bellemare asked the board to defer more than half of the planned pay for executives until 2020.

The hefty increases for the top floor suites came after a tough year for Bombardier which saw 14,500 employees laid off and the company receiving more than $1 billion in federal and provincial bailouts.

At first, Bombardier defended the increases saying they were awarded after the executives reached “performance targets” as part of their contracts.

But as public backlash grew (including a tongue lashing from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau), the top execs started relenting and Beaudoin said the controversy over pay became “a distraction” to efforts to turn the company around.

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Flying Replica Arrow Takes Shape

April 12, 2017 in News by admin

A two-thirds scale Arrow is being built in Calgary.

A group of Calgary pilots is building a .6 scale replica of the Avro Arrow that they hope to fly within the next five to 10 years.

The group has been meeting for 20 years about the project and much of the first few years was spend in research. The build goes on every Tuesday night and the plan is to fly the aircraft as an amateur built.

It will be powered by a couple of jet engines “similar to what is used in Citation jets” and operated under a special certificate of airworthiness.

The volunteers also operate the Avro Museum at Springbank Airport and the flying replica is the ultimate goal of keeping the legacy of the famous fighter alive.

“For me, the challenge of preserving that knowledge and that achievement, in addition to the challenge of building a flying replica of the aircraft, is what keeps me going,” Paul Gies, the lead builder, told the CBC.