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COPA against sightseeing ban

 

The Quebec municipality of Shawinigan has put in a request to Transport Canada to have all sight-seeing operations stopped at nearby Lac-à-la-Tortue seaplane base.

While Transport Canada considers its options before responding to Shawinigan’s request

Transport has asked COPA for its position on this matter.

COPA President/CEO Kevin Psutka has since responded to Mr. Justin Bourgault, regional manager, aerodrome security for Transport Canada with the following insight and recommendations over this matter.

Firstly Psutka emphasized, Lac-à-la-Tortue, one of the oldest water aerodromes in Canada, continues to be a central and important base for bush flying in Québec and Canada, and the businesses established on the adjacent aerodrome are depending on commercial sight-seeing operations for their continued viability.

"There are very few remaining FBOs established near water in the province of Quebec so we are concerned that a complete prohibition on commercial sight-seeing operations may cause the eventual closure of the FBO and related aircraft servicing and maintenance facilities. Furthermore, the municipality of Shawinigan may not realize the final impact of its request. Approximately 25 jobs are at stake as well as a significant amount of municipal taxes."

COPA believes the request for a prohibition may be the result of some commercial operations that have gone beyond reasonable limits for a harmonious cohabitation between the operators and the residents.

It has been suggested that the noise abatement rules published in the CFS are often not respected. It has also been suggested that agreements in place limiting the number of aircraft operating in the area are not being honoured by some operators.

COPA also understands that one commercial operator has established a base away from the registered aerodrome and the proximity of this operation to residents is causing some of the problem.

COPA is also concerned the request for prohibition does not differentiate between commercial and private sight-seeing flights. "We represent people who fly private aircraft, including those who use this lake for taking friends for private flights, including sight-seeing," Psutka said.

"Although our main desire is for continued sight-seeing flights for all operators, if a prohibition is the unfortunate conclusion of this public consultation, we would not want private operations affected in any way as we have no reason to believe that private operations are part of the problem."

Recommendations:

1. The Operating Certificates for commercial operators should incorporate the noise abatement guidelines posted in the CFS as mandatory requirements.

2. Commercial sight-seeing operations should not be forbidden by Transport Canada but rather limited to the previously agreed upon number of aircraft dedicated to this activity and to only one water base on the lake.

3. Private operations should not be prohibited.

4. Education of all operators should include and Aeronautical Information Circular of AIP Supplement and information regarding the procedures posted at the land and water aerodrome.

"If operations are limited as is already in place by local agreements and the existing noise abatement procedures respected, the complaints of the residents will decrease," Psutka said.

"Prohibition of all sight-seeing flights is not necessary to resolve the issues. Observance of existing procedures and existing agreements on number of aircraft is a sufficient measure."