GA Security Coming Under Scrutiny

Kevin Psutka


COPA has been extensively involved in technical committees and working groups at Transport Canada since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

At the first meeting in October 2001 to discuss what enhanced measures should be put in place, which resulted in such measures as reinforced airliner cockpit doors, enhanced passenger screening and security-enhanced restricted area passes, the need for enhanced General Aviation (GA) security was mentioned, for which COPA was prepared.

By that first meeting, our counterpart in theU. S. had already developed a list of voluntary measures and I submitted that list for consideration.

In 2002, when the FAA formally accepted the voluntary measures, we again submitted them for consideration. GA security has not been formally dealt with primarily because the effort has been on airline operations where, arguably, it should be.

COPA’s effort at security meetings has been to remind participants that a one-size-fits-all approach cannot work for GA, especially at airports where both GA and the airlines operate. We have advocated extensively for defining areas at airports that are separate from airline operations where different security measures apply.

To do our part for enhancing security, COPA has periodically reminded members to use common sense to protect their aircraft and help keep the spotlight off of us.

For example, when a distraught individual decided to steal an aircraft in Thunder Bay and fly south in hopes that he would be shot down, we reminded our members of the negative light that can shine on our sector when aircraft can be easily stolen and we brought a checklist of security measures, including keeping aircraft locked and keys in a safe place.

As time went on and agencies such as the TSA came into place in the U.S., GA security was formalized in progressive steps, culminating in TSA-endorsed security guidelines developed with organizations such as AOPA.

There are some regulatory implications in theU. S., such as restrictions on training of foreign pilots, but the measures are largely voluntary in nature to encourage aircraft owners and pilots to use common sense and be vigilant.

In Canada, except for new format pilot licences, enhanced security at FBOs and flight schools and periodic awareness information, there has been no formal enhanced regulation of our sector.

While it can be argued that nothing more is required, nevertheless our government perceives our sector as a potential vehicle for terrorists.

COPA met recently with Transport Canada Aviation Security Policy staff who have been tasked with examining the need to regulate our sector.

The result of that meeting was an agreement to promote a TC survey to seek your security concerns and security measures that you employ.

The survey is available for download on our website ( ).Please submit the survey directly to Transport Canada.

This is an opportunity for your direct input into the discussion of enhanced security measures for our sector of aviation.

Dornier expects its project will create 500 jobs over the next five years. The Quebec government is supporting this $71.5 M project.

In order to house its facility Dornier will build a plant of approximately 80,000 square feet on vacant land on the airport. The presence of the plant is being viewed as a big boon by COPA Flight 160, situated on St. Jean airport, in that it will virtually guarantee the continued viability of the airport.

Flight 160 members have worked diligently with the city to convince officials of the economic value represented by the city’s ownership of the airport.

Dornier will have the advantage of having three runways as well as Lake Champlain to carry out its flight tests and training.

As part of the opening announcement test pilots did a few fly-bys in the airplane which has a 180 knot cruising speed on its two 600-horsepower turbines.

The airplane has a somewhat ‘retro’ look in that it traces its ancestry back to the 1920 Dornier designs, one of which, the WAL, had a total of 12 engines mounted on its wing, in six nacelles each carrying two engines.

The new design also has sponsons in place of tip floats which are common to other flying boats. The current owner of Dornier, Conrado Dornier, is a descendant of the original designer of that line of flying boats.

Literature put out by Dornier describes the airplane as ‘rustproof’ in that it is constructed with pre-preg fibreglass.

It seats 12 in a comfortable cabin, has a maximum no-payload range of 700 miles, a gross weight of 10,251 pounds, and a fuel capacity of 418 U.S. gallons. Its wingspan is almost 60 feet.

The aircraft is not yet certified in Canada but is certified in Europe and the U.S. The company says it already has 25 orders to fill.