Creating an economic footprint for general aviation

By Kevin Psutka
1 April 2009


For several years, COPA has been trying to convince the government to create a General Aviation Policy so that it can be acknowledged as an integral part of our national transportation system, protected and encouraged to grow.

In part, a policy was not developed because there is very little hard data on this sector of aviation. If it can be established, other than anecdotally, that GA contributes billions to our economy, it can then command the attention that it deserves.

I am pleased to report that COPA’s efforts have paid off with a first step toward recognizing GA. But aircraft owners have a key role to play in bringing us to the next step; the economic footprint.

The following article, provided by Transport Canada, highlights a data gathering system that has been very successful for the airline sector, who is partnered with the government on the collection, analysis and dissemination of their economic footprint. The system, known as Electronic Collection of Air Transportation Statistics (ECATS), has been reworked to provide a mechanism for GA aircraft owners and operators, both commercial and private, to provide data on a confidential basis.

I strongly encourage members to take the time to read the following article and, if necessary, follow the link to additional information, and then do your part to add data toward our economic footprint.

By Transport Canada

Transport Canada has developed and deployed a simple and secure data collection process known as Electronic Collection of Air Transportation Statistics (ECATS). ECATS was conceived and developed to be a timely and accurate information portal on aviation activity within Canada. This is part of the department’s commitment to support and promote Canadian General Aviation, both nationally and internationally.

Insufficient data from the General Aviation community has long been an obstacle to understanding this industry. While timely studies have provided a snapshot at a given point in time, there has never been a system that could monitor key industry factors and quantify its overall activity and economic impact.

ECATS was developed to eliminate this obstacle allowing for the collection of General Aviation activity statistics in a current and timely manner. ECATS is expected to improve Transport Canada’s ability to monitor the level of industry activity and measure its economic footprint. Additionally, it will assist with improving the National Transportation Policy and operational planning, with developing provisions for safety programs and infrastructure requirements, and it will provide guidance with other aviation related issues.

ECATS uses three methods to collect aviation data in a timely, flexible, secure and efficient manner. These methods include easily accessible Internet forms for low volume users, data uploads and Business-to-Business (B2B) system-to-system solutions for high volume users. The technology is flexible enough to accommodate all operators and was designed to minimize administrative burden and cost on aircraft owners and fleet managers.

ECATS will ask companies and individuals to provide operational data by flight or summary: trip origin/destination, passengers on board, Transport Canada operating licence type, and aircraft used. To help quantify the economic impact on the industry, owners or fleet managers are asked to report yearly on expenditures on maintenance, fuel, salaries, airport fees, and other costs.

Transport Canada will share summarized ECATS statistics with associate partners, such as the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA). Access to these statistics will provide accurate industry information so that COPA and other associate partners can improve their service to the aviation community.

Major air carriers within Canada have successfully used ECATS for five years, proving ECATS to be a reliable and secure method for collecting and providing statistical aviation related information. ECATS has also been tested for use within the General Aviation community.

Using ECATS will have a positive impact on General Aviation in Canada. Industry participation in the ECATS program will assure its success by providing data that is not available from any other source. ECATS will also help Transport Canada to develop better policies, regulations and programs in the fields of security, safety, economic efficiency and environmental protection, based on strong quantitative data that does not exist today.

To obtain more information including how to become part of the ECATS program, visit the ECATS web page at and if you have any questions please contact Transport Canada at: 1-866-783-7005 or

If you are ready to contribute your data for this important project, please go to the ECATS secure web site at .