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Airport Rule Changes Stalled

More than 100 people attended COPA's AGM June 20.
More than 100 people attended COPA’s AGM June 20.

A controversial set of rule changes that would require local government consultation on airport construction project is said to be “stalled on the minister’s desk” thanks to a concerted effort by Canadian Owners and Pilots Association members.

At COPA’s annual general meeting at St. Andrews Airport near Winnipeg last week, COPA director Tim Cole, a former Transport Canada airport inspector, said more than 1,200 COPA members signed letters protesting the move, which is seen as a major threat to orderly airport development.

Cole told more than 100 people attending the meeting that the strong response prompted “sober second thought” by the government on the move. He said he was told the issue was unlikely to be pursued by the government until after a federal election expected in October.

The government passed legislation in December that gives the Minister of Transport the power to intervene and block airport developments deemed “not in the public interest” and the rulemaking process was an extension of that. The rules had been forwarded through the Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council (CARAC).

The audience was also introduced to COPA’s new president and CEO Bernard Gervais, who told the crowd he will be responsive to their concerns.

“We work for you and we will not forget that,” he said.

Canadian Aviator Editor Russ Niles interviewed Gervais following the AGM and a full report will appear in the September/October issue of the magazine.

George Neal ‘World’s Oldest Pilot’

George Neal still flies his Chipmunk at almost 97.

The man who was first to fly some of the most iconic Canadian-designed aircraft is now in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest active pilot in the world.

George Neal has continuously held a pilot licence since 1936 and will celebrate his 97th birthday next Nov. 21. He has had a long career as a test pilot, most notably at de Havilland Aircraft where he was the first to fly the Otter, Caribou and Tracker. He was also a test pilot on the Chipmunk, Beaver, Twin Otter, Buffalo, Dash-7 and Dash-8.

He has more than 15,000 hours on 150 aircraft types. He owns a former RCAF Chipmunk which he flies a few hours each year to keep his currency. His most recent check ride was on June 2 and he flew the Chipmunk to the 2015 induction gala of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame.

Tom Appleton, chairman of the hall of fame, made the application to Guinness and the record was certified a couple of weeks later.

Laser Awareness Campaign Launched

There were 504 laser strikes in Canada in 2014.
There were 504 laser strikes in Canada in 2014.

Transport Canada has launched a national online campaign aimed at curbing the increasing threat of laser strikes against aircraft.

The “Not a Bright Idea” Web site contains information on just how dangerous lighting up an aircraft with the cheap and readily available devices.

There were 502 reported laser attacks in 2014, up 43 percent over 2012. Some have resulted in minor injuries to pilots and the sudden illumination can be dangerously distracting.

“I have never seen the intensity of a light, ever so bright, and light up a cockpit or a flight deck at night as that particular laser did that night,” Air Canada pilot Capt. Russ Ballman told the news conference announcing the campaign.

“And it was sustained for a good five to six seconds.”

The most common threat comes from green lasers which are available online and can send dangerous levels of light almost 200 kilometres. Some pilots in the U.S. have reported being hit by lasers at 30,000 feet but by far the most attacks are on final approach and just after takeoff.

Those caught pointing a laser at an airplane can result in a fine of up to $100,000 and jail sentences of up to five years.

Fort McMurray Crash Victims Identified

Damaged 185 on final approach to Fort McMurray.
Damaged 185 on final approach to Fort McMurray.

Fort McMurray flight instructor Nabeel Chaudhry and his student Amjed Ahmed have been identified as those killed in a crash that followed a mid-air collision near the northern Alberta city last Sunday.

The two were on a training flight in a McMurray Aviation Cessna 172 about 8 p.m. when it contacted a Cessna 185 on floats.

The 172 went out of control and crashed while the unidentified pilot of the 185 was able to fly to Fort McMurray for a crash landing.

A helicopter mechanic shot video of the landing, showing one of the floats hanging at an odd and aerodynamically challenging angle from one of its supports. The dramatic footage went viral and recorded millions of views.

The pilot wasted no time getting out of the aircraft and was uninjured.

McMurray Aviation released a statement saying the accident happened in a practice area 38 km. northeast of the city and also issued a Twitter tribute to the instructor.

“Nabeel not only were you a great asset to our team, you became family. You will be in our hearts forever.”