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Laser Ban Eyed

February 17, 2018 in News by Editor

Certain types of consumer laser devices could be banned in Canada in response to Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s call that the government explore “all possible options” to stop laser attacks on aircraft. The minister gave the directive to his staff because he’s not satisfied with a 25 percent reduction in laser incidents from 590 in 2015 to 379 last year. “This is not only reckless, it is criminal and it is absolutely essential that we bring those numbers down because one is too many, there’s no question about it,” he told the Toronto Star.

Commonly available lasers have the power to cause serious eye damage at five miles and while there have been no documented cases of permanent disability of pilots or accidents being caused by lasers, Garneau is insisting they be stopped because there is potential for a “catastrophic” crash.  Transport Canada has an ongoing education campaign warning of the dangers of lasers but Garneau said those who are pointing at airplanes are well aware of what they’re doing and more needs to be done. “What I can tell you is that we will choose a solution that is more than just simply continuing the education program.”

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Electric Airplane Certified

February 17, 2018 in News by Editor

Transport Canada has certified an electrically-powered aircraft for the first time. The Pipistrel Alpha Electro was certified as an advanced ultralight earlier this month and that means it can be used for training. A Pitt Meadows, B.C. owner recently had one delivered but it’s not clear if he will be using it for training. The progress of the aircraft will be followed closely in the U.S. where regulations still prohibit the use of electric motors to power certified aircraft. Other countries have certified the Electro and it’s being used as a trainer.

The aircraft has a 60-kilowatt motor which makes about 80 horsepower. It will fly for about 90 minutes on a charge, which makes it ideal as a training aircraft, particularly for circuit work. It weighs about 1200 pounds and will cruise at about 85 mph.

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No End In Sight For Avgas Issues

February 16, 2018 in News by Editor

Imperial Oil says it’s not aware of any safety issues with using the avgas now safely quarantined in tanks across the country but it’s not saying much more about how the situation is being resolved. The company ordered wholesalers and retailers who got avgas produced by its Strathcona refinery in Edmonton (the only refinery making 100LL in Canada) from Dec. 28 to Feb. 13 to stop selling it because it may not meet standards for “conductivity.” Electrical conductivity must be controlled in petroleum because static electricity can build up in the fuel as it’s being pumped and transferred and it can spark and ignite fuel vapours. It’s not clear what the conductivity issue is, but Imperial said its “primary concern is that the product quality issue may cause interference with onboard fuel gauge sensors.” It’s also not clear whether the fuel can damage aircraft components.

Imperial said most of the suspect fuel went to sellers in Western Canada but some made it farther east. The company and its customers are still figuring out where the unsaleable fuel is but the larger question is what will happen after that’s known. All the oil company can say is that it will provide updates as it knows more but so far it’s not saying whether it has to collect all the fuel and replace it and what its plan for that might be. Meanwhile, Nav Canada has issued a rare nationwide NOTAM recommending pilots check fuel availability as part of their flight planning.

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Wings of Hope Pilots Check In

February 10, 2018 in News by Editor

The Give Hope Wings flight around South America has reached the halfway point of epic journey and team members Dave McElroy, Russ Airey and Harold Fast checked in earlier this week as the two aircraft turned north.

Buenos Dias from Commodora, Argentina.

We are now about to begin Day 33 of our Odyssey around the Americas for Hope Air. A few stats:

Hours flown so far                         75

Nautical miles                               10,300 nm 18,765 km

Percent of total itinerary                         53

Fuel burn  US gal                         600 US gal 2190 litres

Cost of fuel  $Cdn                        $3900

Average fuel consumption            8 US gal/hr 29.2 l/hr

Average fuel cost                         $52/hr Cdn

Funds raised so far for Hope Air  $483,000

We are now flying with the 4th Volunteer Flight Crew member. Actually – two of them. As with the airlines, we managed to (very deliberately) overbook the Patogonian segment. Harold Fast was good enough to get off the flight for this segment as we have two eager VPP’s now flying with us: Ian Porter of Vancouver and O’Brian Blackall of Fort St John. Both are pilots.

We will re-connect with Harold in a couple of days in Buenos Aires, when Colin Rosengran of Saskatchewan will also join. He will fly with us to Rio, then Craig Smith of Indiana will come aboard. We still have room for one more lucky soul to join us for the Caribbean leg. Will you consider that? Details at http://givehopewings.ca/volunteer-flight-crewjoin. We will consider all offers as time is drawing short to fill this slot.

Terry Glover of The Kelowna Flying Club will join us in Florida for the flight back to Kelowna. Not sure yet when we will arrive home, as this will depend on weather and how many stops we make enroute. I have been invited back to do another 1/2 hour session with Craig Ferguson in LA on his daily SiriusXM Radio Show.  We’ll see how the weather and the timing goes as to whether we want to make that rather significant diversion …

We have had a magnificent trip so far. At one stage due to delays caused by Peruvian administrative issues (2 days), weather (1 day) and the Pope (1 day), we were 4 days behind schedule. We quickly made that up, however, and are now flying right on time. We have had zero mechanical issues. Did an oil change in Santiago, Chile, and will plan another in Florida.

Our crews have been wonderful. Four men traveling together – and the constantly rotating crews – have made for the time of our lives. Much laughter and much great flying. You may have seen the Facebook posts including great pictures/videos of us flying in four and five-ship formations with the Chilean RV aerobatic display pilots at an airshow in Villaricia. This is the Oshkosh of Patagonia, with many visiting aircraft from Argentina & Brazil. We were welcomed and presented with an award at the final dinner. Ended up staying there 3 days instead of one. Chileans are wonderfully open, friendly people.

In fact, all the people we’ve met enroute have been most welcoming and helpful.

As a result of the exposure from Chile, we have been invited to fly with the aerobatic formation RV demonstration team in Brazil. All five of these pilots are ex-military fighter pilots, so we are most hopeful we can work our timing to engage in this opportunity. Stay tuned.

We are so fortunate.

Please encourage all you know to track and “like” us on Facebook to help spread the word about Hope Air. Donations have slowed to a trickle since we left and stopped actively fundraising. We want to well exceed our $500,000 goal. Many thanks to all our friends at the Kelowna Flying Club/COPA Flight 36. Your huge support of this endeavour is greatly appreciated.

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New Chair at ACPA

February 10, 2018 in News by Editor

ACPA MEC Chair Elect, Captain Matt Hogan. (CNW Group/Air Canada Pilots Association)

A Toronto-based A320 captain has been elected chair of the Air Canada Pilots Association. Matt Hogan has been at Air Canada for more than 10 years after a period flying air ambulances. He will chair meetings of the Master Elected Council and be the lead negotiator with the airline on issues that arise. He will serve until March 31, 2019. He replaces former chair Kevin Vaillant who resigned last December.

“I got involved with ACPA because I believe the organization helps us do our jobs better,” said Hogan. “I thank the MEC for the confidence they have shown in me, and I look forward to working with my fellow elected representatives, our members, and Air Canada to advance the pilot profession and safety of the flying public at home and abroad.” Hogan has served in various senior roles at ACPA in recent years.

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Labour Issues At Swoop

February 10, 2018 in News by Editor

WestJet’s new ultra low cost carrier Swoop hit some labour relations turbulence this week when the Airline Pilots Association applied to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board to stop WestJet management from allegedly negotiating directly with WestJet and Encore pilots about moving to Swoop. WestJet and Encore pilots voted last year to join ALPA but they still haven’t negotiated a first contract. The union says talking to pilots directly is “changing and ignoring well-established rules and policies.” WestJet did not comment to the Calgary Herald.

But the Herald sat in on a conference call with CEO Gregg Saretsky who told those on the call the airline is negotiating over a common seniority list for all three airlines. He also is reported to have said he would like WestJet and Encore pilots to earn promotions to work at the low cost airline. Swoop is scheduled to begin service with three aircraft in June.

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Optical Illusion Cited in Crash

February 2, 2018 in News by Editor

The Transportation Safety Board says an optical illusion likely contributed to the crash of a Beaver on floats in central B.C, in October of 2016. The TSB report also noted the plane was 300 kg. overweight when it stalled and crashed near Laidman Lake. The pilot was killed and two of four passengers seriously hurt. The report says the pilot likely misjudged his altitude because the lack of visual cues while flying over snow-covered terrain in overcast conditions.

“The lack of features to provide scale in the snow-covered terrain, together with the minimal contrast among the dense trees given the diffuse light conditions, likely disguised the upsloping terrain and the actual horizon,” the report says. “As the slope steepened, the perceived horizon would have moved upward in the windscreen, and the pilot may have pitched the aircraft up to maintain a constant angle between the pilot’s reference point on the aircraft and the rising terrain.” The TSB also said a stall horn, which the Beaver lacks, might have helped.

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Three Dead in R44 Crash

February 2, 2018 in News by Editor

A pilot, his daughter, and the daughter’s friend have been identified as the three people killed when a Robinson R44 helicopter crashed and caught fire near Drummondville, Quebec on Thursday evening. Jean-Claude Mailhot, Jeannie Mailhot, and Nathalie Desrosiers were identified by family members according to the CBC. The victims were not from the Drummondville area but their hometown was not immediately released. The network quoted police sources as saying the aircraft was on a trip from Beauce to the Lanaudière region.

Winds were light and temperatures were just below freezing at the time of the crash. The aircraft came down in a field. It was mostly consumed in a post-crash fire and the victims were found in the wreckage.

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Swoop Takes Aim At Flair

February 2, 2018 in News by Editor

WestJet’s new ultra low cost carrier (ULCC) Swoop generated some media attention this week by giving away 2,000 seats and offering transit bus fares on others between low volume destinations. The tickets and the marketing message that accompanied them appeared to be aimed directly at Flair Air, the fledgling new carrier that is gathering strength in that market. In announcing fares as low as $7.50 between Abbotsford and Edmonton and Winnipeg and Hamilton, the company said it will begin flying June 20 and by July 25 will be flying 45 flights serving those four airports.

The not-so-subtle marketing message is that Swoop is “travel without the flair” in which customers pay for only the services they want beyond the seat and seatbelt. The news release also stressed the financial stability of the carrier and its relatively modern fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft. “Canadians can book with us knowing that we have modern aircraft, strong financial backing and an experienced team that will get you there and back,” said Bob Cummings, the WestJet VP in charge of Swoop. Kelowna-based Flair Air is already flying and expects to have 12 737-500s, a generation older than Swoop’s planes, flying by spring of 2019 and is offering service to most major airports in addition to the four that Swoop will initially serve.

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Nav Canada Holds Teen Girls Summer Camp

January 26, 2018 in News by Editor

Nav Canada is making a direct appeal to teenage girls to join its ranks with its first summer camp for girls heading into Grade 10 in September.The air navigation services provider will invite 20 girls to its Cornwall, Ontario facilities for a week of hands-on contact with a variety of aviation careers.

The girls will spend the week learning about jobs in air traffic control, electronics, flight services and other specialties that keep air traffic moving smoothly.Nav Canada has created a promotional video and will be sending packages to educators across the country.

With the theme “Leave Ordinary Behind” the teens will be encouraged to try their hands on simulators and the other high tech gear that the highly trained people at Nav Canada use to manage the system. They will also learn how to fly drones.Applications are due by March 9 and will include a completed application form, a 350-500-word essay on why the applicant wants to attend and a letter of recommendation from a teacher or community leader.More information and the link for an application are here.

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Sea King Retirement Begins

January 26, 2018 in News by Editor

The long-delayed retirement of the CH-124 began in earnest Jan. 26 as CFB Shearwater said goodbye to the venerable submarine hunter. Sea Kings flew in formation over Halifax in the final operational flight of the 60-year-old helicopters on the East Coast. Sea Kings will continue to serve at 443 Squadron in Victoria, B.C. until it too transitions to the replacement platform, the Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone. Shearwater crews have been training on the Cyclone over the past year, including ship-borne operations.

The Sea Kings started service with the Royal Canadian Navy in 1963 in response to the threat from Russian nuclear submarines operating off both coasts. Sea King operations have been legendary, with Canadian crews landing them on the pitching decks of relatively small Navy ships using a winch to pull them onto the decks. Just as legendary, unfortunately, has been the spotty reliability of the aircraft although there are many defenders of the type who say it wasn’t any more breakable than any other aircraft.

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Bombardier Wins Trade Case

January 26, 2018 in News by Editor

Bombardier has won its case before the U.S. International Trade Commission and almost 300 percent duties against its CSeries airliners will not be imposed. Boeing launched the claim saying the CSeries were being dumped on the U.S. market at below market prices in a deal with Delta Airlines fo 75 aircraft, unfairly harming its business. The U.S. Commerce Department agreed and proposed duties of 292 percent on CSeries, essentially barring it from the U.S.  But on Friday, the commission ruled that “100-to-150-seat large civil aircraft from Canada do not injure U.S. industry. Bombardier reacted with a hastily prepared email.

“Today’s decision is a victory for innovation, competition, and the rule of law,” the company said in its statement. “It is also a victory for U.S. airlines and the U.S. traveling public. The C Series is the most innovative and efficient new aircraft in a generation.” Boeing said the CSeries threatened its business and cited poor sales of 737-7 MAX as proof of its claim but at least three of four commissioners on the USITC disagreed. Before the decision, Bombardier said it plans to go through with a partnership with Airbus to build CSeries at an assembly line in Mobile, AL. Airbus agreed to take over the CSeries program after the Commerce Department proposed the duties. It’s not clear what Boeing’s reaction to the ruling, which was not expected by analysts, will be.

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CF-18 Demo Paint Scheme Revealed

January 19, 2018 in News by Editor

The RCAF has released the design scheme for its 2018 CF-18 demo aircraft, this year honouring the 60th anniversary of the North American Aerospace Defence Command. Each year the Air Force’s graphic designer Jim Belliveau uses a CF-18 as his canvas to mark an important milestone in Canadian aviation or military history. Canada has been a partner in the defence shield since its inception and CF-18s have done numerous intercepts of foreign aircraft skirting Canadian airspace.

The RCAF describes the paint scheme this way: “Elements from NORAD’s logo – lightning bolts, a north-pointing sword, the globe, and silver stylized wings that evoke both the northern lights and radar sweeps. Taken together, the motif is undeniably symbolic of NORAD’s ongoing commitment to the protection and defence of North American airspace, and the RCAF’s role in guaranteeing Canadian sovereignty.”

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Two 747s at Goose Bay

January 19, 2018 in News by Editor

Goose Bay Airport had a couple of heavies on the ramp for a few hours earlier this week as yet another airline crew took advantage of the former Strategic Air Command Base’s 11,000-foot runway for an emergency diversion. An El Al Boeing 747-400 was about 200 miles out over the Atlantic on its way from New York to Tel Aviv when a wheel well fire warning light illuminated. No corresponding heat indicators lit up but the crew turned around and headed for Goose Bay for an uneventful landing about 4 a.m..

The 747 and its 400 passengers sat on the ramp for 13 hours in temperatures of about -30. El Al sent a replacement 747 from New York and transferring the passengers and baggage took about four hours. The flight finally made it to Tel Aviv about a day after its scheduled arrival time. The warning light turned out to be a sensor problem.

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Cherokee Clips Lines, Lands Safely

January 19, 2018 in News by Editor

A close call for an Alberta pilot knocked out power to thousands of people in southern Alberta on Tuesday. The unidentified pilot was landing at the Olds-Didsbury Airport, north of Calgary, about 8 p.m. when the aircraft flew under powerlines and clipped them as it landed. The 59-year-old pilot was able to complete the landing even though the lines had damaged the Cherokee 180’s prop, wing, tail and windshield. He was not injured.

“After the collision, he did a good job landing the airplane safely,” RCMP spokesman Staff Sgt. Chad Fournier told the CBC. The resulting power outage turned out the lights over a wide area for four hours but it could have been worse. The area was just coming out of a deep freeze that saw temperatures in minus 30s.