By Clarence Demchuk
Flight 4 Regina again sponsored the Southern Saskatchewan annual Rust Remover/Transport Canada 24-month Recurrency Seminar on Saturday April 19. Attendance this year consisted of 64 - about same as last year.
Flight 4 Captain Wayne Runyan introduced presenters Fred Johnson and Dan Stelman from TC. The seminar started with a fresh look at Risk Management, an important element for pilots and owners engaging in the adventure sport of recreational aviation. The power point and DVD video presentation added to the clarity and quality of the presentation and was truly appreciated by all.
When the questions from the floor began to flow it was clear that the "Hot Button" 406 digital ELT upgrade issue was front and center. In trying to capture the essence of how it went and write a meaningful report, it became abundantly clear and in fact came across loud and clear that there were a lot of questions with many answers yet to be revealed.
All questions generated a lot of really spirited discussion. Questions presented in this report are slightly massaged for clarity but generally representative of what was asked and said often repeatedly by many enthusiastic participants.
Is it a done deal? Is it mandated? Where is this information going? Have alternate technologies been explored and considered like personal satellite computer monitored tracking devices?
Would SAR protocols accept third party track data in the same fashion as Nav Canada now accepts cell phone or landline messaging during flight planning process? Would satellite tracking from onboard devices be accepted as an extension of radar line-of-sight limited track info for SAR verification notification purposes?
Has a grace period been considered given that 18,000 thousand members plus non COPA members will need to purchase 406ELTs? Are there enough approved 406 units to meet the demand? How will local CASARA teams perform ground SAR without 406 homers?
Have private pilots/owners written or talked to their Member of Parliment? Is COPA against 406 digital ELT or just the lack of choice? Are aircraft owners the only group of recreational adventure sport enthusiasts singled out for mandatory locator compliance? Is there time for new emerging technologies to gain certification? What is the implication of mandatory compliance upon border crossing and tourism?
Are American private pilots owners on same timeline? Will a written waiver regulation option come into effect after implementation? Will the 406 ELT function under water after ditching? Do recreational private aircraft fit the same flight profile as ultra-light aircraft which are exempt from 406 upgrade? Are all in attendance members of COPA thereby enabling access to latest information on 406 ELT?
To sum up the mood and message conveyed by private pilots and recreational owners is that they are simply looking for a sensible solution to this matter.
Captain Wayne Runyon closed the session by making a special presentation of $500 cheque from Flight 4 to COPA Director Earl Kickley to take to Ottawa for the COPA Special Action Fund which we heard needs a top up due to low interest rates.
Wayne thanked TC officials Dan and Fred for their informative presentation with the group erupting in spontaneous applause for Fred and Dan. Pilots were thanked and invited to present their log books for endorsement and enjoy the lunch.