Making yourself heard


COPA represents your interests at various levels of government; nationally, provincially and locally, as well as throughout the aviation industry. We do this with full time staff, 15 elected Directors, two honourary Directors, our network of Flights and other volunteers.

We attend many meetings in an effort to keep what we have and make personal aviation the best it can possibly be. But what about when you see something that you believe needs improvement.

Certainly bringing it to the attention of your regional Director or COPA staff can start the wheels rolling but there are many situations where a suggestion for change, even a relatively minor one, can be effectively dealt with by bringing it directly to those decision makers in the government or industry who should hear about your concern.

We have all experienced several major changes in aviation in the past decade including privatization of the air navigation system, transferring airports to other than government interests and security enhancements following 9/11. And changes continue including Transport Canada’s downsizing and elimination of their General Aviation Directorate.

Our efforts can be multiplied if you take the time to register your complaint or suggestion through one of the many mechanisms now available. I will highlight three of the tools that are available and encourage you to use them whenever you see something that needs improvement.

Transport Canada (TC) has created a new feedback system to receive, track and respond to complaints and suggestions for improvement. It is called the Canadian Aviation Issues Reporting System (CAIRS). Details as well as links to the forms can be found at

Input can be done with an online form or (especially if you wish to do so confidentially or anonymously) by downloading a form to send in. Forms are also available at any TC office.

In the words of TC: “The CAIRS provides our stakeholders, including our clients and the public, with a means to raise issues (concerns, complaints, compliments, and suggestions for improvement) to the Civil Aviation Program of Transport Canada. As a basis for a reporting culture, the CAIRS seeks to address issues quickly and at the lowest possible level before a need to resort to a formal redress process exists. It does not prevent our stakeholders from using any other established redress mechanism or reporting system.”

Nav Canada has had a similar system in place for a few years. It is easy to reach from the front page of their website by clicking on “contact us” at the top of the page, where you will find an email address, toll free fax and phone as well as mail address for reaching their customer service centre.

I use this as my formal way to bring an issue or suggestion to their attention, such as when I notice a problem during a flight. The customer service centre routes the issue to the appropriate people who do respond.

Remember where to find the feedback area on their website or note the following information: email, phone 800-876-4693, fax 877-663-6656, mail: Customer Service, NAV CANADA, 77 Metcalfe St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5L6.

Aviation security continues to be in the public eye and COPA has spent a great deal of time keeping the hounds at bay from imposing further restrictions on our sector. Our most recent accomplishment is reflected in the review that was performed on the Canadian Air Transportation Security Agency with a view to expanding its role beyond terminal and passenger security into such areas as FBOs.

The authorities at least recognize our sensitivity, both from a cost and practical point of view, to enhanced security measures. From the report: “The General Aviation (GA) sector, largely unregulated from a security point of view, may be a target for terrorists. There are many small GA operations that pose little security risk, and would find stricter government regulation onerous and costly.”

The report limited its recommendation to screening of passengers of larger operators at FBOs: “We recommend that screening of passengers be extended to Fixed Base Operations where the size of the operation warrants.”

We should do everything we can to make our sector as secure as possible so that we do not give the authorities any incentive to impose restrictions on us. It is simply a matter of common sense.

Lock your aircraft whenever it is out of sight, even on a fuel stop. Use disabling devices such as prop, throttle and wheel locks but make sure they are of a type that will not damage the aircraft. Challenge anyone whose activity around aircraft appears suspicious, or report it to the nearest airport authority as soon as possible.

For those situations when there is no one nearby to report to or you want to bring anything to attention to the aviation security authorities, call the number in your region listed in the accompanying box for reporting any security incident. Do not hesitate to call.

We all have a role to play in order to protect our freedom to fly. Taking the time to bring issues to the agency of concern will ensure that you are heard.

COPA also has a role to play. If you would like to bounce something off of us before you submit it, for our background experience or suggestions for how best to express your concern, please do. Contact your Director (contact information is on our web site and in our newspaper) or contact the COPA office. Please copy the COPA office ( fax 613-236-8646) on anything that you submit so that we can monitor the issues.