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We’re Not Out of the Woods, Yet

As the country slowly recovers from the grip of COVID-19, things are also starting to recover in our industry – some provinces more quickly than others.   Transport Canada’s willingness initially to accommodate the needs of in the aviation community in-crisis have been less evident in recent weeks. Requests for a further extension to the 90-day exemption to training and PPC requirements have met with some resistance from the Department, and now Transport Canada is talking about alternatives to a further exemption, that include Training-to-Competency - claiming that there are safety risks. Our industry has largely supported the concept of Training-to-Competency, but for many operators who did not carry out their training this Spring, it is a less appetizing solution to expiring qualifications when it is occurs mid-season, and in the middle of pandemic. Deployed flight crews and Training pilots may need to travel, at some personal health risk, while Transport Canada inspectors are still forbidden from conducting rides owing to health-related concerns;  work in-short-supply this Summer may be disrupted; and aircraft may need to be pulled from some remote locations, at considerable inconvenience to the customer and expense to the operator. What’s more, we all appreciate the value of Spring training, but most of our pilots are highly experienced, and at the height of their currency, mid-season. Our industry segment would be most adversely affected by a mid-season requirement for training – for what HAC would argue, is very little return on a very costly safety investment.

Requests from operators for one-of exemptions to the regulations, of-late, have been met with more resistance and subjected to more traditional, time-consuming risk-assessment requirements that are being evaluated in the regions rather than under some scrutiny by Headquarters. The problem is, that what our industry is experiencing is anything-but “traditional”, and there seems to be a growing sense in government, that the “worst is over”. It’s not nearly over, and for operators that survive and their associations, we will be years recovering from the effect of COVID-19.

Most recently the Federal government has undertaken a review of the financial circumstances in commercial aviation – notionally, to determine if the commercial aviation community really is in need of special financial assistance – or if they can survive through more general assistance programs like the CEWS program. They claim that the non-scheduled CAR 703 and 704 operators (both fixed-wing and helicopter) are “out-of-scope” for the review. In short, they “don’t-know-what-they-don’t-know” if they don’t investigate the financial circumstances of unscheduled commercial operators. Stay-tuned to the HAC Newsletter, for more.