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The Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC) and the Helicopter Association of Canada (HAC) are asking Minister Garneau to review his proposed changes in Flight and Duty Time regulations to consider aviation sector differences.
“We are inviting the minister to pause and sit with industry before implementing changes that would have disastrous consequences on commercial aviation in Canada,” said John McKenna, ATAC president and CEO. “None of industry’s concerns voiced over the past eight years have yet to result in an iota of change in the proposed regulations. This is unacceptable and goes against the mandate given by the Prime Minister to engage in ‘constructive dialogue with Canadians . . . stakeholders, including business . . . and identifying ways to find solutions and avoid escalating conflicts unnecessarily.’ ”
Industry considers that the minister has Gazetted the most important regulatory changes to occur in aviation for the past decade. ATAC and HAC say that these changes will cause prices to go up for all Canadians, put smaller carriers out of business, and will seriously threaten service to Indigenous, northern, and remote regions of Canada – hurting those who depend the most on aviation as a lifeline. This will inevitably lead to serious job losses in the regions.
To make matters worse, a recent government funded study indicates that the proposed set of regulations will require 26 percent more pilots to offer the current level of service. This at a time when industry is already grappling with a serious pilot shortage.
“This set of proposed regulations doesn’t take into account the many different sectors in Canadian aviation,” said Fred Jones, HAC president and CEO. “You can’t impose regulations designed for the ultra-long-haul carriers on seasonal, business, or remote helicopter operations. The Canadian Aviation Regulations were conceived with these different types of operations in mind, so why now impose a one-size-fits-all set of rules?
“Both the USA and Europe have excluded vast sectors of the industry from their new Flight and Duty Time regulations, for now – including regional carriers, cargo, medevac, and the helicopter industry – until they can prepare regulatory solutions that fit different types of commercial operations.”
The two national association presidents pointed out that Canada has one of the best safety records in the world, and that pilot fatigue has never been identified as a causal factor in any commercial accident. They also pointed out that fatigue has never appeared on the Transportation Safety Board Watch List for aviation.
“Canada is a world innovator in Safety Management Systems – a process whereby carriers can manage their own risks – including pilot hours of work,” said Jones.
“We are not asking the minister to back down from his intention to modernize Canadian regulations on Flight and Duty Time,” concluded McKenna. “We are simply asking him to pause, to work with all stakeholders to draft a revised set of regulations that will not threaten our competitiveness and will minimize the impact on Canadians everywhere – but particularly to those northern, remote, and indigenous communities who depend on aviation the most. Let’s put our heads together to make this work while protecting the best interests of Canadians.”