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Pole: Is CARAC Working?

At first blush, yes. Although there appears to be communications problems that need to be ironed out


October 1, 2007
By Ken Pole

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Canadian aviation, is packed with alarming stories over the way
regulations have been introduced and enforced by Transport Canada.
Operators are being told one thing by department headquarters in
Ottawa, and something different, and often conflicting, by the regional
office. Some of this was due to poor communications on both sides.
Other cases appear to be the result of pure bloodymindedness. Whatever
the reason, most disputes have been resolved, but not without
significant cost to the operator. Clearly, something had to be done to
bring proposed regulations to the notice of senior management earlier
in the process, and especially with the accelerating trend toward
harmonization with other national jurisdictions. The solution has been
the creation of the Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council
(CARAC), a collaborative effort between Transport Canada and the
industry to improve the way regulations are developed and implemented.

The
idea behind CARAC is that by having industry's input early on, the kind
of delays that once plagued the system can be eliminated, or at least
minimized. Even so, it is a lengthy process, largely because CARAC
doesn't replace the rule-making procedures mandated by Treasury Board.
Any regulatory proposals still are published in draft form in the
Canada Gazette for public consultation and possible amendments before
they are cast in bureaucratic concrete. Such a process can be both
cumbersome and protracted. So, is the CARAC process working? The answer
gathered from watching the latest annual plenary meeting seems to be
'yes'.

I say, "seems to be" because there are still hitches.
Inevitable when you have some 50 delegates, including common and
competing interests grouped around a single table. During the meeting,
for example, a point was raised about how some operators, anticipating
a regulatory requirement, had purchased new hardware only to find that
it did not comply with the final version of the regulation. When I
observed that this implied a classic "failure to communicate" or
something fundamentally askew with the consultation process, Merlin
Preuss, Transport Canada's director general of civil aviation demurred.
"On the contrary," he said. "Clarification of issues is not a sign of
being 'disconnected' but rather of ensuring that, during the dialogue,
the exchange is understood by everyone.


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