COPA Special Action Fund Inc.


The Special Action Fund (SAF) was established in 1978 to help finance a campaign to convince the government to stop a 10 percent excise tax on private aircraft purchases. COPA members quickly responded and COPA subsequently was successful in eliminating the tax.

In 1984, facing a number of challenges to our freedom to fly, the COPA Special Action Fund Inc. was incorporated and expenditure approval procedures formalized by the COPA Board of Directors.

Here are some examples of how the Special Action Fund has been applied to date.

(The complete text of several legal rulings in our favour can be found in the COPA Guide to Private Aerodromes on the member’s only section of our web site):

  • Funded Venchiarutti V. Longhurst and Longhurst (1992), a landmark ruling in which the Court of Appeal for Ontario confirmed the right of individuals to own and operate a private airstrip. The key decision in that case was "The Aeronautics Act makes no distinction between "airports" and "private airports," both of which constitute matters of exclusive federal concern."
  • Funded legal representation before the Federal Court of Canada to successfully establish that Transport Canada's Letters of Counseling can be appealed to the Civil Aviation Tribunal (now the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada).
  • Revenue Canada was convinced to eliminate 10 per cent Excise Tax on private aircraft.
  • Participated in the resolution of a situation where a farmer's silo was being erected on the approach path to the Chatham Ontario airport, effectively shutting down a runway.
  • Commissioned consultants on a variety of studies on issues affecting general aviation, including an economic impact study of General Aviation in the Calgary area which in turn led to an Airport Authority decision to help fund improvements and expansion at Springbank, Alberta; a study of the value of the Nelson, B.C. airport, and a study of the unpredictability of the weather in the area of the Banff and Jasper airstrips in support of their retention for our safety.
  • Thwarted an attempt by Ontario Hydro to force an aerodrome owner to bury wires on his property despite the fact Transport Canada had determined the airstrip was safe and the risk was adequately addressed by a cautionary note in the CFS.
  • Successfully defended pilots who were taken to court for landing at Banff and Jasper airstrips.
  • Participated extensively over several years in the effort to convince the government to retain the Banff and Jasper airstrips. In March of 2008 Environment Minister John Baird announced both airstrips will be kept open for emergency and diversionary use. As well the Jasper airstrip will be kept open for recreational use.
  • Successfully defended the rights of seaplane pilots to maintain their access to lakes in the Temagami Park area of Northern Ontario, then Kawartha Highlands and contributed to a study in support of retaining seaplane access to B.C. parks.
  • Paid the legal expenses of an aircraft mechanic who was being challenged regarding his responsibility for the work of others. The successful outcome prevented an interpretation of the regulations that would have required mechanics to check all previous work performed by other mechanics; an expensive and unworkable provision.
  • Paid a consultant to establish the positive impact of Delta Air Park, B.C. The study was instrumental in keeping the airport open following an ill-informed decision by officials to use the land as a parking lot for an adjacent park.
  • Paid part of the legal expenses in the successful defense of two flying instructors who lost their flight testing privileges without due process of the law.
  • Funded the successful lobby efforts of a consultant to overturn an Ontario Tax property reform initiative which treated private hangars as commercial property.
  • Defended the rights of a seaplane base operator to install fuel tanks. The municipality backed down before the case proceeded to court, in part because of the threat of our substantial Special Action Fund.
  • Defended the right of an aerodrome owner in Quebec who was ordered by the agricultural land commission to remove his airstrip and hangar. Following a win at the provincial level this case is now before the Supreme Court of Canada.
  • Defended a Quebec commercial operator who was prohibited from running a floatplane sight-seeing operation. Following a win at the provincial level this case is now before the Supreme Court of Canada.