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HAC setting its sights on flight and duty battle

dscf1088Nov. 13, 2014, Montreal - The Helicopter Association of Canada wrapped up its 19th annual convention and trade show in Montreal last week and by all accounts it was a successful event for both suppliers and operators alike.


There was little doubt that the most captivating take away from the event from an educational perspective was how the industry is set to deal with potential regulation changes to flight and duty time requirements in their operations. It was an essential topic addressed in a number of educational sessions and committee meetings.

As HAC president and CEO Fred Jones stressed on several occasions, this is a “highly charged” issue one that will have “huge reverberations” throughout the industry. The proposed regulation changes could seriously alter operator costs, crew deployment processes, hiring policies, pilot and crew lifestyle decisions, operational logistics and most importantly, safety.

“This is just a mess and the time to keep our powder dry has passed,” Jones noted. “We cannot let this go to Gazette One, it would certainly be a catastrophe for the industry.”

As Jones outlined at the conference – and in his column in the Oct/Nov/Dec issue of Helicopters – HAC has been immersed in this issue for more than two years. The Association, key Canadian operators and The Flight Crew Fatigue Management Working Group met for 43 days over the course of 18 months to develop a workable set of flight and duty regulations that would work for all industry stakeholders.

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Photo by Matt Nicholls.


 

However when the draft notices of proposed amendments (NPAs) were tabled – following two years of silence from Transport Canada (TC) – they were done so in the absence of the Working Group dialogue and industry stakeholders. Much of the information contained in the NPAs is not only misleading, Jones noted, but is highly ambiguous when it comes to fatigue-related science. Much of it is also only applicable to the airline operating community, completely ignoring the needs of the helicopter industry. The proposed amendments will have a serious affect on CAR 702 and 703 operators, but they will also affect almost all aviation partners.

As a point reference, Stephen Nourse, executive director of the Northern Air Transportation Association (NATA) told Wings and Helicopters during the show that the proposed amendments will serious affect operations at all levels of aviation – including Air Canada and WestJet, commercial operators who stand to benefit most from the tabled amendments. Both airlines will have operational concerns with some far-flung Caribbean destinations, as will a significantly number of fixed wing operators all over the North.

Some of the “highlights” of the proposed amendments as Jones detailed in his column:

  • New Cumulative Duty Hour Limitations of: 1,928 Duty Hours in 365 days; 190 Duty Hours in 28 days; 60 Duty Hours in 7 days
  • New Cumulative Flight Time Limits: 112 flight hours in 28 days (down from 140 in 28 days currently); 300 flight hours in 90 days (down from 450 in 90 currently); 1,000 flight hours in 365 days (down from 1,200 hours currently)
  • Time Free from Duty: 5 days off in 20 or 1 day off in 7
  • Maximum Duty Day 13 Hours (but reduced further for Early or Late Starts)
  • Transport Canada summarily eliminated the “Zeroing” of accumulated Flight Time provisions in the current regulations, without explanation, notwithstanding that they are supported by the fatigue-related science
  • Compliance with the proposed new regulations would need to be demonstrated within 24 months post-Gazette II publication, for CAR 702 and 703 Operators.

As Jones noted several times at the conference, HAC is stepping up its advocacy efforts in light of these circumstances and, with its allied associations, will soon embark on an advocacy campaign if Transport Canada continues to promote the regulations in their current form.

Discussion on this issue was particularly lively in the “Hour with Martin Eley” session on Saturday, Nov. 8, when operators and suppliers perplexed by the proposed changes took turns peppering Eley with questions, to which TC’s Director General tried to assure those in the room that all dissenting points of view and/or industry concerns would be considered – even though he also said there would be no further consultation on the matter, just internal discussion. And with a Federal election looming, the question is will the regulations, as they stand, be somehow pushed through the process, or will necessary amendments be made? Stay tuned. Chances are plenty more will be said at ATAC next week.

Some more news from HAC:

  • Several pilot were honoured with safety awards at the annual HAC luncheon. They include: Derek Robinson, Eclipse Helicopters (15,000 hours); Karen Trimmer, Helifor Industries (15,000 hours); Ward Huntley, Helifor Industries (20,000 hours); Douglas Robertson, Helifor Industries (25,000 hours); Kevin Hogarth, Skyline Helicopters (10,000 hours); Leonard A. Joa, Skyline Helicopters (5,000 hours); Neven Kaminski. Skyline Helicopters (5,000 hours); Eric W. Petrunia, Skyline Helicopters (5,000 hours).
  • James Symonds of Skyline Helicopters was honoured with an Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Safety Award for 23 years of impeccable work
  • The late Grant Louden of Skyline Helicopters and Jan Rustad, formerly of HNZ Topflight (formerly Canadian Helicopters), were named recipients of this year’s Agar Stringer Award
  • The team at Blackcomb Helicopters captured this year’s Airbus Innovation in Safety Award


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