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Regulatory Forces

Part of my job at HAC to act as a translator – for industry and for Transport Canada. In many ways, both parties speak different languages. The helicopter industry is obviously concerned with safety, but oddly, we see safety in very different terms from Transport Canada. Industry’s concerns centre around mitigating operational risks in a Canadian context. At Transport Canada’s most recent CARAC Plenary session in April, Francois Collins, Transport Canada’s Associate Director General tried to explain how Transport Canada interprets “safety” and describes how they arrive at a list of issues requiring action on their part. I would even argue that Francois has missed a few, including “the political and media sensitivity of the issue” and “debates which take place in the House” and “very recent accidents” - and the timing of the discussion with respect to a Federal Election - as if it all wasn’t complicated, enough. Over the years, I have developed a certain appreciation for these factors – if not some sympathy for a regulator, that I would argue sometimes even loses sight of the objective, in the wake of particularly intense pressure from one or more sources. Part of HAC’s role is to try to ensure that we never lose sight of the improvement to our operational safety in a Canadian context – rather than on an harmonizing with one or more foreign jurisdictions or bending to pressure from other industry segments, for example. 

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