Transport Canada stalls aviation safety

First Air Flight 6560 claims twelve lives, TSB
Our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones in Resolute Bay, Nunavut on Aug. 20.  This issue of Aviation Safety News also covers aerodynamic stalls - Continental Connection Flight 3407 and Air France Flight 447 - do pilots need more training?

The issue includes selections from stories filed by top journalists about:
Transport Canada deep sixes floatplane safety
FAA nixes Sikorsky S-92A dry-running requirement  
$2 billion awarded by CATSA in airport passenger screening contracts
Webster Memorial Trophy, Kevin Aalders is Canada's top amateur pilot
Pilot fatigue regulations stalled in the US (where are Canada's?)

Consumer protection lags in Canada
Only 78% of Canadian summer flights on time
Air Canada fined for misleading advertising in the US
Canadian misleading advertising law waits for cabinet approval

The lead investigator into the Cougar Helicopters crash makes a call for a strong regulator.
"I envisage a safety regulator for the offshore as having a mandate to learn about the background of any equipment being used or to be used in the offshore, including helicopters. It should have the knowledge and authority to say when additional measures are needed and the duty to pursue improvements.”
Justice Robert Wells, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
Aviation Safety News is a project of Transport Action Canada and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Public Interest Advocacy Centre monitors aviation legislation. PIAC has standing before the Canadian Transportation Agency and the courts. Transport Action Canada is represented on the Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council. The Aviation Safety News readers’ group includes top aviation safety authorities, industry and civil service professionals.

The Canadian Press, Four killed in Quebec helicopter crash near Quebec City

Chris Krepski, a spokesman for the safety board, said they were still trying to determine the cause of the accident. Investigators will also examine the aircraft maintenance records, the weather at the time of the crash, and whether there was any communication between the pilot and air traffic control, Krepski said. He said the helicopter, a Robinson R44 that seats four people, was not required to have a black box. The aircraft was destroyed but there was no post-crash fire, he said.
The Canadian Press, Aug. 28, 2011

Macleans, Cockpit crisis, loss-of-control accidents

Statistically speaking, modern avionics have made flying safer than ever. But the crash of Flight 1951 is just one of several recent, high-profile reminders that minor problems can quickly snowball into horrific disasters when pilots don’t understand the increasingly complex systems in the cockpit, or don’t use them properly. The point was hammered home later that year when Air France Flight 447 stalled at nearly 38,000 feet and ended up crashing into the Atlantic, killing all 228 on board. … That’s what happened on Feb. 12, 2009, aboard Colgan Air Flight 3407.
Chris Sorensen, Macleans, August 24, 2011

Nunatsiaq Online, First Air Flight 6560 Resolute Bay

Authorities investigating the crash of First Air flight 6560 say it’s too soon to determine what exactly caused the Boeing 737-200C to crash into a hill near the Resolute Bay airport Aug. 20. … Mark Clitsome, director of air investigations for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, said investigators will comb through the records of the flight data and cockpit voice recorders and interview the flight’s three survivors. He said it could take up to 60 days to produce a preliminary report and a year or more to issue a final version.

The plane’s manufacturer, Boeing, is helping in the investigation along with the engine manufacturer, Pratt & Whitney, Clitsome said. The 737-200C, which is built to carry both passengers and cargo, was more than 35 years old, according to, an online database of commercial aircraft. It made its first flight in May of 1975 for Wien Air of Alaska.
Nunatsiaq Online, Chris Windeyer, Aug. 22, 2011

Macleans, Cockpit crisis, information overload

There’s also the risk of information overload, as the pilots of a Qantas Airways-owned Airbus A380 “superjumbo” discovered last November. Shortly after takeoff from Singapore, one of the hulking A380’s four engines exploded and sent pieces of the engine cowling raining down on an Indonesian island. The blast also damaged several of the A380’s key systems, causing the unsuspecting flight crew to be bombarded with no less than 54 different warnings and error messages …
Chris Sorensen, Macleans, August 24, 2011

Webster Memorial Trophy, Kevin Aalders is Canada's top amateur pilot

Kevin Aalders won  the Webster Memorial Trophy in a competition at Grondair, in St. Frederic, Quebec, this weekend. Aalders flies out of the Centennial Flight School, Edmonton, Alberta.  The 2011 runner-up is Justin Mailman from Moncton Flight College, Moncton, NB.

Amy Foy says,"The Webster Team and our sponsor, Air Canada Flight Operations, wish to congratulate Kevin, Justin and all the regional finalists for their excellent performance and an extraordinary competition."
Webster Memorial Trophy, Aug. 22, 2011

The Canadian Press, Another First Air jet made emergency landing two hours after

Transport Canada documents show a First Air 737-200 — the same model that crashed — landed safely in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, on Saturday, the same day 12 people were killed and three were injured in Resolute. The report says that shortly after the second plane took off for Winnipeg, it turned back and landed with one engine. The crew requested emergency vehicles be on site for the landing. The fire department, police and maintenance crews were called out. Everything appears to have gone according to plan. First Air, which says it has six 737-200s in its fleet, didn't immediately responded to requests for comment.
The Canadian Press, Aug. 22, 2011

The Canadian Press, Nunavut 737 crash  kills 12

No cause for the crash has been determined, but witnesses have said there was fog and a low cloud ceiling at the time. It lifted about 10 minutes later.  ...  four of the plane's crew, including pilot Blair Rutherford of Leduc, Alta., and co-pilot David Hare of Yellowknife, are among the dead.
The Canadian Press, Aug. 22, 2011

TSB Aviation Investigation Update: First Air Flight 6560

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has begun investigating yesterday's air accident in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, involving a Boeing 737-200 operated by First Air as Flight 6560. Twelve people were fatally injured, and 3 people received injuries.  Our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones in this accident.
Mark Clitsome, Director of Investigations (Air)
Bryce Fisher, Manager, Standards and Performance (Air)
TSB, Aug. 21, 2011

Associated Press, US Charter, cargo airlines target pilot safety rule

Amid fierce opposition from charter and cargo airlines, as well as alarms raised by Pentagon officials, the Obama administration has delayed new safety rules aimed at preventing airline pilots from becoming so exhausted that they make dangerous mistakes.

The proposed rules would allow some pilots to fly more hours — 10 instead of the current maximum of eight — if they begin their day in the morning so that most of their flying takes place during the daytime. But pilots who fly overnight — the busiest time of day for cargo carriers and military charters — would be allowed fewer than eight hours because people naturally crave sleep during those hours.
Joan Lowy, Associated Press, August 18. 2011

The Canadian Press, Helicopter safety body should have ‘all-encompassing’ power

Commissioner Robert Wells recommended in his report released Monday that the safety regulator should be able to take any action it considers necessary to prevent the risk of injury or death. “The public does not compartmentalize safety into separate sectors, with air safety being a matter only for Transport Canada,” he said in his report.

“To express it bluntly, I envisage a safety regulator for the offshore as having a mandate to learn about the background of any equipment being used or to be used in the offshore, including helicopters. It should have the knowledge and authority to say when additional measures are needed and the duty to pursue improvements.”
The Canadian Press, Aug. 15, 2011

QMI Agency, Only 78% of Canadian summer flights on time

Through June and July - the best-weather months of the year - roughly 78% of flights on Canada's three biggest carriers arrive on time, calculations based on data taken from show. Transport Canada does not collect its own statistics on the topic.

About 30% of WestJet flights from Toronto's Pearson International to Halifax are delayed, while 52% of Air Canada flights to St. John's are late on arrival. Other often delayed routes include Porter Airlines flights out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to Windsor, which are late 66% of the time. Air Canada and WestJet release their own on-time estimates on a quarterly basis. For the first quarter of 2011 -- typically the snowiest time of year -- Air Canada said 59% of its flights hit the runway on time or within 15 minutes of the scheduled time.  During the same period, 76% of WestJet flights were on time.
QMI Agency, Stefania Moretti, Aug. 12, 2011

Vancouver Sun, The taxing charade of cheap airfares

 You go online to book your flight. Then you see that the fare posted in the newspaper was for one way. Then you see that the advertised fare did not include taxes, surcharges and extra fees. Then you see that the final cost of your flight to Moose Jaw is roughly more than one-third to double of what you, the naive consumer, expected to pay. Exotic Saskatchewan will have to wait…. In some countries, this isn't the case. Australia requires that full fares must be advertised, and this spring, the U.S. Department of Transportation mandated that taxes and ancillary fees be posted.
Pete McMartin, Vancouver Sun, Aug. 13

Postmedia News, Air marshals cost $40 million a year

Highly trained RCMP officers have been flying on flights to Washington and other international and domestic destinations to act as a deterrent against terrorist attacks since the 9-11 strikes against the United States.  …. Billing records show that the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority was invoiced by the Mounties about $10 million every quarter between 2004 and 2006, before the arrangement was restructured and the federal government began funding the program directly.
Glen McGregor, Postmedia News, Aug. 15

Postmedia News, Transport Canada review finds air show followed the rules

Air show organizers followed the rules June 4 when a Campbell River pilot crashed into the Nanaimo airfield, a Transport Canada review found.
"Our review is complete and all the information available to date indicates the air show was in compliance with Canadian aviation regulations and there is no further action required at this time," said Sara Hof, Transport Canada spokeswoman. A Transport Canada observer was present to witness the entire show, meaning the crash was under direct observation by the agency when it occurred. That is a requirement of air shows under the Aeronautics Act.
Postmedia News, August 12, 2011

Transport Canada, Aviation safety agreement with the European Union  

The Government of Canada today announced that an aviation safety agreement with the European Union came into force on July 26, 2011. The Government of Canada has been working closely with its European counterpart to ratify the Agreement on Civil Aviation Safety. The agreement will make reciprocal acceptance of aeronautical products and services easier, reducing costs for Canadian companies and increasing competitiveness.
Transport Canada, August 11, 2011

United Steelworkers, CATSA contract winners must respect workers rights

The USW represents more than 2,000 pre-board security screeners in airports across Canada, making it the largest union in this sector. CATSA has announced service providers for a new system of regionalized airport security contracts that takes effect November 1. To date, CATSA has failed to guarantee that unionized workers will retain their collective bargaining rights if a new company replaces an existing security contractor. CATSA has also been vague about protecting seniority and other rights, saying only that the “market” will decide, Neumann noted.

“The democratic rights of workers must be entrenched in this transition to new security providers in Canadian airports,” USW National Director Ken Neumann said following CATSA’s announcement of new airport security contracts across Canada.
United Steelworkers, August 8, 2011

$2 billion, CATSA awards  airport passenger screening contracts

Pacific Region: G4S Secure Solutions (Canada) Ltd. (up to $416,170,000 over five years);
Prairies Region: Aeroguard Company Ltd. (up to $431,560,000 over five years);
Central Region: Garda Security Screening Inc. (up to $652,100,000 over five years);
East Region: Securitas Transport Aviation Security Ltd. (up to $481,680,000 over five years).
CATSA, Aug. 8, 2011

Air Canada fined for deceptive advertising in U.S.

 The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Thursday it has fined Air Canada for breaking the laws against deceptive price advertising. "When passengers buy an airline ticket, they have a right to know how much they will have to pay," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. "We take our airline price advertising rules seriously and will take enforcement action when they are violated." For an unspecified period early this year, advertisements on Air Canada's websites "did not disclose the amount of taxes and fees that passengers would have to pay in addition to the advertised fare, or lead the consumer directly to the information on these taxes and fees," the department's Aviation Enforcement Office found.
Postmedia News, August 4, 2011

Buffalo News, Flight 3407 advocates fault FAA over delay

The families have been especially focused on the pilot fatigue rules because of indications that the pilots of Continental Connectioncq Flight 3407 may have been too tired to fly on the night of the February 2009 crash in Clarence Center, which claimed 50 lives.

Neither pilot got a full night of bed rest the night before the flight. And the co-pilot commuted to Newark, N.J. -- where Flight 3407 originated -- from her home near Seattle on connecting red-eye flights the night before getting behind the controls of Flight 3407.
Buffalo News, Jerry Zremski, August 2, 2011

Buffalo News,  Proposed rules on pilot and crew flight time and duty time

The FAA introduced its proposed rules on pilot and crew flight time and duty time last September. They would:
- Ensure that pilots have nine hours of rest prior to duty, up from eight hours.
- Establish a new way of measuring the rest period that would make sure pilots have the opportunity to sleep for eight hours before a flight.
- Guarantee pilots 30 consecutive hours off every week -- a 25 percent increase.
- Set weekly and monthly limits on flight duty time.
- Establish different rest requirements based on factors such as the time of flights and the number of flights a pilot is making in a given day.
Buffalo News, Jerry Zremski, August 2, 2011

Toronto Star, Fraudulent boarding passes a security worry, review says

Fraudulent or duplicated boarding passes could be used by imposters to get onboard aircraft at Canadian airports, a potential weakness that could be exploited for “attacks,” a government review says. Transport Canada is urging the agency that oversees airport screening to take steps to better verify the identities of passengers.

One measure, known as positive passenger identification, would see screeners ensuring that the name on a boarding pass matches a passenger’s ID. The recommendation is contained in a review of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, the agency responsible for the screening of passengers and baggage.
Bruce Campion-Smith, Toronto Star, Aug 2, 2011

Buffalo News, Flight 3407 echoed in French crash

Three and a half months after the pilots of Continental Connection Flight 3407 crashed the plane into a home in Clarence, an Air France crew plunged a jet into the Atlantic for the very same reason: they didn't know how to fly the plane when it slowed toward a stall. …  For Karen Eckert, one of the leading members of the Families of Continental Flight 3407, the report on the Air France crash seemed all too familiar.

"It was sad to learn that the pilots executed the wrong response and like Flight 3407, pushed the nose up instead of down to create the aerodynamic stall," she said. "It is a heartbreaker to know that like Flight 3407, the Air France crash could have been prevented and all those precious lives spared."
Buffalo News, July 29, 2011

Toronto Star, Air France crash investigators say crew was poorly trained

A probe into the 2009 crash has revealed the pilots, facing faulty speed readings and repeated alarms, did not realize the plane was stalled and were insufficiently trained on manually handling the aircraft. They also didn’t warn passengers anything was wrong as the plane plunged 11,500 metres into the Atlantic.All 228 people aboard died in the accident, the deadliest in Air France history.

The crash highlights a growing vulnerability. As flight crews grow more and more reliant on sophisticated cockpit systems, safety experts say, they have lost the ability to fly manually in all situations. And most are no longer trained to take control at high altitudes, where auto pilots usually rule. “The emphasis in training is very much on using the automated systems to manage other failures, like using the automated system to manage an engine failure. We haven’t done a lot of training on how to manage the failure of the automated system,” said William Voss, president of the U.S.-based Flight Safety Foundation.
Jesse McLean, Toronto Star,  Jul 29 2011 

The Canadian Press, Transport Canada puts off floatplane safety upgrades
The federal government is delaying implementing floatplane safety recommendations by the Transportation Safety Board in favour of further consultations that will take months. A TSB report on a crash off British Columbia's coast where six people died, including a baby, recommended that pop-out doors be installed and that passengers wear personal-flotation devices. The investigation into the Seair Seaplane crash off Saturna Island in November 2009 found that the six who died survived the crash, but couldn't get out of the submerged plane. In the last 20 years, about 70 per cent of the deaths in planes that sank in the water were from drowning after passengers survived the initial impact of the crash.
The Canadian Press, Jul. 29, 2011 

Postmedia News, Airport security agency foresees longer lineups due to fewer funds

In its annual report, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority writes that insufficient government funding will hamper its ability to respond quickly to new security issues, again, adding to the wait times passengers experience before getting to their flights.

Without additional funding to expand screening lanes and address rising costs due to inflation, long lineups at security checkpoints are likely to get longer, "particularly at the busiest airports that are already experiencing pent-up demand," according to the annual report, released last Wednesday.
Postmedia News, Jordan Press and Teresa Smith, July 25, 2011

CBC News, FAA chopper safety decision angers labour group

The FAA has rejected a Cougar crash investigation recommendation of a 30-minute "run dry" standard for older helicopters. The FAA will require the next generation of Sikorsky S-92A aircraft to be able to fly for 30 minutes after a catastrophic loss of oil pressure.

"I'm really angry that a safety regulator would use such a rationale, that we don't need to do this because it's too expensive," Lana Payne, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, told CBC News.
CBC News Jul 20, 2011

The Canadian Press, Safety is taking a back seat to the bottom line

The March 2009 (Cougar Helicopters) crash resulted in 17 deaths during a flight to an offshore oil platform. In its final report, the Transportation Safety Board determined that 11 minutes before the Cougar crash, the main gearbox lost oil pressure.

Lori Chynn, 44, whose husband John Pelley died in the crash, said she is disappointed at the FAA’s decision.“I just feel that once again we’re saying money is trumping safety,” she said in a telephone interview from her home in Deer Lake. “Safety is taking a back seat to the bottom line which is cost, and that’s unfortunate when you’re talking about people’s lives.”
A spokesman for Sikorsky says the manufacturer agrees with the FAA decision not to require changes to the 140 existing S-92As operating in 23 countries.
The Canadian Press, Michael Tutton, July 20, 2011

Kelowna Daily Courier, Lasers could cause plane crash: WestJet

It‘s a matter of time before someone pointing a laser at a moving jet will make it crash, says Robert Palmer. The WestJet spokesman was reacting to an incident last Friday, when light from a powerful laser beam penetrated the cockpit of a Boeing 737 carrying a load of passengers as it approached Kelowna Airport from Calgary. The green light refracted through the windshield, distracting the pilot and co-pilot as the plane descended above Lake Country.

"You have the lives of 150-odd people and six crew and a $55-million aircraft. You‘ve got people on the ground. The damage you could do with what you think is a silly act of fun is incredibly serious," Palmer said Thursday. Someone pointed the laser from the ground an estimated six kilometres away as the plane flew about  19 km north of the airport. The jet landed safely before 8 p.m., and the crew reported the disturbance to authorities soon after.
Don Plant, The Kelowna Daily Courier, July 15, 2011