Wings Magazine

Manipulated Media Passing Judgment on CBAA

Two articles appeared a few weeks ago in the consumer media – one in the Globe and Mail and the other in the Toronto Star – both stating that the Auditor General was about to launch a scathing report on the state of the CBAA and its POC Programme

May 26, 2008  By Rob Seaman

Two articles appeared a few weeks ago in the consumer media – one in the Globe and Mail and the other in the Toronto Star – both stating that the Auditor General was about to launch a scathing report on the state of the CBAA and its POC Programme. The articles were strategically timed to come out just before the AG tabled her report on Tuesday, May 6. Both referred to the CBAA as an “industry lobby group” and both in essence claimed that corporate aviation in Canada was a “system plagued with troubling holes.”

The two pieces portrayed a “life of the rich and famous” atmosphere in corporate aviation, and to read these articles without having a knowledge of the industry, the average person might conclude that that things are out of control and that the CBAA is making a mess of things. To substantiate their claims, they referenced the fatalities from the recent aircraft crash in Alberta, and through the access to information act referenced a recent audit of the CBAA’s POC Programme.

One of the articles quoted the Canadian Federal Pilots Association – the union that represents the interests of pilots who used to perform the flight checks for CAR 604 operators before the POC programme kicked in. These are in essence the same pilots who lost work through the POC introduction. You might recall that when the POC came into being, Transport Canada at the time said that they needed to devote their resources and energies where they were best needed and that corporate aviation was not one of the areas that necessarily warranted their attention as much as other areas. So reading between the lines, perhaps some of the pilots represented by this union lost some of their work and may be a tad bitter about it. They were quite vocal about it at the time and promised to become louder in the days and months to follow. One might conclude then, that these articles and their timing are owed to their self-serving efforts?

One of the points alluded to in the articles is that CBAA does not administer penalties. The CBAA has neither the authority nor the mandate to do this under the programme today. In its simplest form, its role is more administrative, based upon operators satisfying the criteria to be granted a certificate. And part of that means the operator passing a third party audit of their operational and SMS procedures and documents. As well, the CBAA looks to see that training requirements are current and to the standard required. Based on these issues being satisfactory, then the CBAA gives the certificate and is in effect acting as an administration machine for the rules and guidelines that Transport Canada puts in place. The development, administration and enforcement of the rules still fall to Transport Canada when all is said and done. So as many see it who are in the know of these things – the CBAA is doing the job it was asked to do.


As to the issue of aircraft having incidents or crashes – well, unfortunately that happened under the old system too and will continue to be a simple fact of aviation anywhere. In effect, accidents happen to the best and worst. And even if the folks who make and administer the rules are actually in the right seat with the guy pushing the buttons and holding the stick – you are not going to change the fact that these things can and will go very wrong from time to time – regardless if it is a private, commercial or government aircraft. And as we all know, statistically it is still safer to fly than to be transported from point A to B in any other form or mode.

The March 28th Alberta crash and loss of life was a tragedy beyond all comment. It was however the first fatality for the corporate aviation world in Canada in a very long time. And it was most certainly not the fault of the POC Programme or Transport Canada for that matter. What happened is a case for the Transportation Safety Board officials to work out. As for the POC Programme – it has gone to great lengths to support and encourage an environment of responsible and safe aircraft operation. And as the number of aircraft grows globally in all categories, the ways of doing things will have to change. Having the CBAA work with Transport Canada in this way is just one example of the changes that will come, not only in Canada, but potentially around the world.

The problem is that some folks have a hard time accepting change in any form and then result to less credible ways to try and keep their outdated ideals imposed and heard. Putting the effort into making things grow in a mutually beneficial way would perhaps be a better use of the energy and dare I say, media space.


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