www.wingsmagazine.com

Features Operations
Alternate Approach: A return to advocacy

The business jet sector was handed the first hard evidence of an uptick in 2013, as delivery of new aircraft increased for the first time in five years, according to the General Aviation Manufacturer’s Association (GAMA), a Washington-based trade organization.


May 6, 2014
By David Carr

Topics

The business jet sector was handed the first hard evidence of an uptick in 2013, as delivery of new aircraft increased for the first time in five years, according to the General Aviation Manufacturer’s Association (GAMA), a Washington-based trade organization.

G450 streamline  
“One part operators would like nailed down is a streamlining of the POC approval process and a return to CBAA service levels.” PHOTO: Gulfstream


 

Business jet deliveries grew a razor thin 0.9 per cent in 2013 to 678 aircraft, largely on the strength of large-cabin and long-range aircraft. It is still almost half the number of deliveries in 2008, the last year to record year-over-year growth, but a clear sign the sector has turned a corner.

Activity in Canada “echoes” the GAMA report, says Rudy Toering, chief executive of the Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA). Toering describes the Canadian sector as more internationally focused and growing outside of the traditional Toronto, Montreal and Calgary markets. “There is a lot more international travel to Europe and Asia,” he observes. “We are also seeing growth in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and Vancouver.” Growth in western Canada is being fueled by the oil and gas industry.

Four years after Transport Canada (TC) grabbed back control of private operator certification (POC) and oversight functions there is renewed energy at CBAA as the association focuses almost exclusively on its role as an industry advocate; a critical role some members say slipped off the radar during the POC years.

“We are back to a very full advocacy-based agenda,” Toering insists. “Our members see the older CBAA – before POC – coming back, where we spent a lot of time making sure operators were well represented, whether it was with (TC), NAV Canada or the airports across Canada. We have quite a few dockets we are working on right now.”

There are thousands of moving regulatory and operational parts that keep corporate aviation flying in Canada. One part operators would like nailed down is a streamlining of the POC approval process and a return to CBAA service levels. The latest International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) safety report puts business aviation at the lowest risk method of transport worldwide, including commercial operators. 

New 604 rules are expected at the end of May, as Wings was going to print. In the meantime, Toering says the CBAA will continue discussions with TC to ensure that regulations are warranted and scalable to the size and service of operations, and over-regulation does not hamper the success and growth of business aviation in Canada. Given the safety record of CAR 604 operators, it makes sense for the regulator to listen.

One operational issue that crystallized over an unusually long and harsh winter is access to de-icing at major Canadian airports. De-icing arrangements negotiated between the larger commercial airline sector and local airport authorities typically leave business aviation, charter operators and some smaller airlines out in the cold. Operators have complained about being pushed out of the queue for access to de-icing pads or sprayed at the gate with the same volume of fluid as a larger commercial jet.

Calgary International Airport has a separate de-icing pad that improves the flow of traffic. Other airports are interested, and the CBAA has positioned itself as the point person in the discussion for alternative solutions. “We have a good working relationship [for example] with several airports in Canada. They know that our business aviation operators are a key part of their departures.”

Toering uses the de-icing issue to draw a thick red line under the value of CBAA in representing its members. “Every single airport is different,” he points out. “But TC has been very active in considering the CBAA’s concerns. They genuinely care about this issue at airports across Canada. We are dealing with over 30 different airports and TC.” It’s an undertaking that would be out of the reach of a single operator, management company or flight department.

“It’s a different ballgame,” the CBAA’s Deborah Ward says. Indeed, the association appears to have already got a solid base hit out of CBAA Matters! an online forum where members set the agenda through discussion on topics of interest to business aviation operators. Clever double entrende is intended. In Edmonton, the CBAA will be launching an online SMS gap analysis tool allowing operators to benchmark themselves against 604 safety management issues and new TC requirements. “We want to help our members be more aware,” Toering says. “Members appreciate this new level of activity and have said so when we meet at local CBAA meetings across Canada.”


David Carr is a Wings writer and columnist.