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Bill C-6: An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act

 

On 27 April 2006, Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, introduced Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, in the House of Commons.

The bill is similar in most respects to its predecessor bill, C-62, which was introduced in the House of Commons on Sept. 28, 2005. That bill died on the Order Paper with the dissolution of Parliament, without having gone beyond first reading.

Department officials say the substantial amendments to the Aeronautics Act (the Act) contained in Bill C-6 are necessary to improve aviation safety and to bring the Act in line with other transportation Acts that have recently been updated.

In general, COPA supports the amendments to the Act, but would like to emphasize keys areas of support and concern.

There has been considerable attention paid by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities to Clause 12, in particular Safety Management Systems (SMS) and a perceived lack of oversight by Transport Canada in the form of inspectors.

Most of the members COPA represents are not subject to SMS regulations. However, the concept of SMS is a good one. SMS adds a layer of safety to the existing layers for this already safe mode of transport.

There is no doubt that SMS can safely reduce the amount of Transport Canada oversight that is required but some minimum level of oversight is still required in an SMS world.

If the feeling of the Committee is that more inspectors are required, they should be prepared to recommend additional financial resources to be allocated to Transport Canada, not reallocated from the dwindling Transport Canada budget or absorbed by the industry through inspection fees in order to provide a level of comfort that is perceived necessary.

COPA strongly supports Clause 17, sections 5.82 through 5.85, concerning entering private lands to remove natural growth. There are thousands of small registered or certified aerodromes in Canada. In some cases, neighbours may be uncooperative in providing safe approach and departure paths. This provision will, in many cases, provide a means to ensure continued safe use of many runways.

COPA brought to the Committee’s attention that COPA submitted a letter to Transport Canada in response to the call for amendments to the Act back in 1999.

At that time COPA was particularly dismayed when the amendments that went forward included removing the Minister’s promotion responsibility from section 4.2.

While COPA appreciates that responsibilities for safety, security and environment may at times be in conflict with promotion, the Minister should always weigh his decisions against how it will affect the health and sustainability of the entire spectrum of aviation. If there is no responsibility for promotion of aviation, it would be too easy for the Minister to disregard the impact on the future of aviation in the name of safety, security or the environment.

In our 1999 submission, COPA wanted not only to ensure that the promotion responsibility remained, we wanted additional wording to help clarify that the Minister’s promotion responsibility should include all sectors of aviation. COPA is again urging the additional wording.

Air Policy and other efforts by the Minister and his Staff far too often only address the health of the air carrier sector. The health of the air carrier sector is dependent upon the health of the entire spectrum of aviation. Most aspiring airline pilots build their time by training students, the majority of which become pilots for non-commercial reasons.

In addition, these non-commercial pilots fly and/or own the majority of aircraft on which apprentice mechanics build their experience and qualifications so they can eventually work on air carrier aircraft.

A healthy spectrum of aviation also includes smaller airports where pilots train, safely away from the air carrier operations. Most of these airports rely on non-commercial aviation to keep them viable.

COPA urged the Committee to accept all comments regarding the Minister’s responsibilities and strike down the amendment that would remove promotion.

In the latest request for suggested changes to the Aeronautics Act, COPA has three areas that we would like Transport Canada to address. The current wording is shown in Italics and revised suggested wording is shown in bold.

HIRE OR REWARD INTERPRETATION

"hire or reward" means any payment, consideration, gratuity or benefit, directly or indirectly charged, demanded, received or collected by any person for the use of an aircraft;

This interpretation is too broad as it pertains to owners of private aircraft. Although there is a CAR addressing the reimbursement of expenses to a pilot associated with operating an aircraft, including passengers paying their share of fuel and oil for a trip incidental to a pilot’s travel and provision for employers reimbursing pilots for their travel costs, the CARs are silent in regard to owners lending their aircraft to others for their personal use. An owner of a private aircraft should be able accept a reasonable contribution toward the operating costs of the aircraft from someone who borrows it as long as the contribution does not exceed the actual operating costs, including consumables and a proportionate contribution to other costs such as engine overhaul provision. The use of a private aircraft for personal travel should be similar to the use of a private motor vehicle.

COPA recommends that either the hire and reward interpretation be refined or wording be introduced in to the Act to help clarify that lending an aircraft to others and accepting a contribution toward operating and ownership costs does not constitute "hire or reward." With this clarification in place, perhaps the CARs can be revised to include further definition of permitted cost sharing that does not constitute a commercial air service or require an operating certificate.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE MINISTER

4.2 The Minister is responsible for the development and regulation of aeronautics and the supervision of all matters connected with aeronautics and, in the discharge of those responsibilities, the Minister will...

Reason for change: The Minister should ensure that each of these items are addressed at all times, not simply at his/her discretion.

(a) promote all sectors of aeronautics, by such means as the Minister considers appropriate;

Reason for the change: The industry recognizes the importance of a healthy spectrum of aviation from private, recreational and personal use aircraft and flight training to the major air carriers and including facilities to support them from private aerodromes to major airports. The Minister’s mandate should be clear that he/she has a responsibility to promote all sectors in an effort to ensure that there remains a health spectrum of aeronautics in Canada.

(b) construct, maintain, operate and encourage development of private and public use aerodromes and establish and provide other facilities and services relating to aeronautics;

Reason for the change: The National Airports policy has resulted in many smaller airports being effectively abandoned by the government, with the consequent risk that many will close. Smaller airports provide reliever locations for general aviation and destination airports in a hub-and-spoke air carrier industry.

(c) establish and provide facilities and services for the collection, publication or dissemination of information relating to aeronautics and enter into arrangements with any person or branch of government or industry for the collection, publication and dissemination of that information;

Reason for the change: In today’s competitive environment, it is possible for the government to achieve efficiencies and/or better value for users, who must or should purchase publications, if industry is able to bid on and supply the collection, publication or dissemination of information. The responsibility remains with the government but their source of information should not be limited to branches of the government.

REGULATIONS RESPECTING AERONAUTICS

4.9 The Governor in Council has the exclusive jurisdiction over and may make regulations respecting aeronautics and, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, may make regulations respecting…

Reason for the change: Despite several legal precedents concerning the exclusive federal jurisdiction over aeronautics, there continues to be challenges to this principle, particularly regarding the establishment and operation of private aerodromes. For example, British Columbia has established that the federal government’s jurisdiction over aerodromes does not include private aerodromes. The above wording, along with the sub-paragraphs that follow, would help to clarify this jurisdiction issue.

To see Bill C-6 in its entirety visit the following link: http://www.parl.gc.ca/LEGISINFO/index.asp?List=ls&Query=4675&Session=14&Language=e

Or for French visit: http://www.parl.gc.ca/LEGISINFO/index.asp?List=ls&Query=4675&Session=14&Language=f