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On Final: Heading toward a common goal

The sheer volume of rules, regulations and requirements that government imposes on business aviation is daunting, especially for small operators in every region, who are busy enough without this additional burden.


May 6, 2011
By Sam Barone

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The sheer volume of rules, regulations and requirements that government imposes on business aviation is daunting, especially for small operators in every region, who are busy enough without this additional burden.

The Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA) works to help lift that burden, dealing with various departments and issues every day. But, underneath all of this, the fundamental challenge in dealing with government isn’t the mountains of paperwork and snarls of red tape. It’s myopia.

Each government department exists in its own world, reporting up the chain of command to its minister, following its own procedures and setting its own objectives based on its own internal policies. Rarely if ever do bureaucrats have the time, or the mandate, to look up and see how their work fits into the larger picture.

This “silo” effect puts the CBAA in a position of stating the same positions over and over again to different groups of bureaucrats; wasting time on repetition that would be better spent finding shared solutions. To make it worse, any time there is a change in department staff, from the minister on down, the whole process of education, rather than dialogue, starts all over again.

This problem is well known to the bureaucracy, and is almost as big a source of frustration to them as it is to us. And, in fairness, they are already pulled in many directions, with competing and conflicting government, business and public agendas, and the same challenge we all face:  too much to do, and not enough time to do it. 

Associations share some of the blame. By dutifully knocking on the different doors, and stating our case over and over again, we are not putting enough pressure on government departments to get them to work together.

The CBAA has an idea to break out of the silos. We suggest that, in support of the necessary work we do with different departments and agencies, we and the government together take a holistic, whole-government approach to complex aviation and aerospace policy objectives.

The CBAA would like to see the creation of a true government-aviation industry symposium or forum, held regularly, that would bring together a large number of diverse organizations, both within and outside government, and include not only Transport Canada, but also the other agencies and departments, such as Environment, Trade or Industry, that have a stake, and a level of influence, in business aviation.

There are many benefits to such a scheme. It would allow us to work collaboratively and strategically, reducing fragmentation and conflicting policies. Different government departments would benefit as much as, if not more than, business aviation, as an industry symposium or forum would give them the much-needed opportunity to cross-pollinate ideas in the early stages of policy formation.

To list just a few of the questions we can better resolve together:

  • Canada is committed to promoting strategic gateways, industry competitiveness and the export of its aviation and aerospace segments. However, do the fiscal, security and border management policies facilitate these goals, or do they in fact, stifle, competitiveness?
  • When aviation safety and security policies and regulations are formulated, is there a process that evaluates the economic impacts? What are the bilateral and international operating implications of the regulations?
  • How can different agencies improve their co-ordination? Dealing with all these entities can be cumbersome and costly, especially for small business aviation flight departments and operators – is there a better way?
  • There are instances when Department of the Environment policy differs from Transport Canada’s environment policy objectives – how can they find a more congruent approach?

This concept isn’t “pie in the sky”: there are examples of this type of symposium between departments and industry working, and working very well. The most successful of these share some common elements: a strong commitment from the senior bureaucracy and C-level business executives and a shared view of outcomes.

The CBAA is dedicated to providing unified positions to government. We are ready and able to work collaboratively and professionally with government on behalf of our unique sector, and to build a regulatory framework that protects, and at the same time, promotes, business aviation.


Sam Barone is president and CEO of the Canadian Business Aviation Association.


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