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Ottawa to tighten rules regarding corporate jets

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Ottawa to tighten rules regarding corporate jets
Transport Minister John Baird has announced that the federal government plans to tighten the rules governing private jets used by companies to carry executives and other staff.


March 16, 2010
By Canwest News Service

March 16, 2010, Ottawa – Transport Minister John Baird has announced that the federal government plans to tighten the rules
governing private jets used by companies to carry executives and other
staff.

In 2005, the government transferred the authority to issue operating licences for such aircraft to the Canadian Business Aviation Association, an organization that represents the corporate-jet industry.

But Baird has announced that Transport Canada will again assume responsibility for issuing such licences, a move that officials hope will improve oversight. The department will also launch a full review of the regulations governing the sector, said a senior government official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Corporate executives often turn to private jets to avoid the long lines and hassles associated with commercial flights. But a handful of incidents in recent years have raised questions about whether the sector is subject to adequate oversight.

In 2007, a Bombardier Global 5000 jet carrying Tim Hortons co-founder Ron Joyce undershot the runway in Fox Harbour, N.S., causing the plane to skid out of control. One crew member and a passenger suffered serious injuries.

A report issued last fall by the Transportation Safety Board identified a number of errors or oversights that contributed to the crash, including the pilots' lack of experience. The report also concluded that under the new private licensing system, the jet operator had not adequately assessed the risks associated with such a flight.

In December, Baird hinted that his department was reconsidering its approach.

“I do not support outsourcing safety testing or safety monitoring to the private sector. I think it is an important core responsibility of government and my department,'' he told the House of Commons at the time.

In February, another company plane owned by Tim Hortons was forced to make an emergency landing in Hamilton, Ont. after experiencing hydraulic problems. No one was injured. According to local reports, Joyce was on the flight.

The change will likely be seen as a blow by the industry, which struggled during the recession as companies cut back on such perks as corporate jets.

The government will not assume responsibility for issuing the licences until April 1, 2011, giving the industry a year to adapt, officials say.

The move will not affect commercial flights.