Together we are stronger
July 7, 2021 By Fred Jones
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water
I know that many of us have been so preoccupied with the COVID-19 pandemic, and its effects, that it’s hard to focus on anything else. The distribution of vaccines in Canada and the United States seems to be proceeding reasonably quickly at this point, and we are seeing signs of life in some markets.
You might understand how someone could forget that there are other regulatory issues percolating away in the background. One of those issues is the new Fatigue Management Regulations, which are scheduled to come in to force for our industry segment on December 12, 2022.
Well, heads up – It’s time to focus on the regulations, again. “But these regulations have been passed into law, with an in-force date of December 12, 2022. What’s the point?” you say? Well first of all, spending more than 30 years as a lobbyist in Ottawa has taught me “It’s never-over-til-its-over.”
In spite of my own painful experience during the flawed consultation process on these new regulations, I believe that there is still value in opposing the new regulations. Helicopter Association of Canada (HAC) has achieved a number of concessions during the consultation process, which concluded about five years ago. These concessions include the exclusion of Aerial Work Operations from the applicability of the new rules; the exclusion of helicopters from the sector-limits that are applicable to CAR 705 operators; and the inclusion of split duty provisions, to name a few.
The recent change of Federal Transport Ministers and a looming Fall election may present some opportunities for HAC to influence the course of these regulations insofar as our industry segment is concerned. There are a number of tools that Transport Canada could use to make this occur, if there is a will to do so from the government.
A number of members have contacted HAC to ask whether they should be proceeding to modify their Fatigue Management software to contemplate the new regulations. Like any good lawyer, I consistently respond “That depends”. It depends largely on us and our resolve to continue the fight to oppose them. To be clear, these new regulations, will be devastating for our industry in their current form.
Applicability of any regulation is always key understanding its effect. These new Fatigue Management Regulations will not be applicable to Aerial Work operations, which is a good thing, to be clear, but we all know that any given pilot may switch between CAR 702 and 703 operations multiple times in the same day. Unless the flight crew member is exclusively dedicated to CAR 702 operations, the crew member will have to comply with the new, more conservative regulations.
I urge you to consider that impact of the new regulation on your operations – particularly as it relates to Tour Lengths; the absence of the zeroing provisions; and the new Cumulative Duty Hour provisions in the new regulations.
Transport Canada will soon start to focus on implementation issues for affected industry segments. Please also take a moment to consider the “stacking effect of the new regulations” in your operation. or example, consider the combined effect of the new cumulative Duty Hour limits when combined with the new 14-day tour length; or the new cumulative flight time limits when combined with the new Cumulative Duty Day limits. Bluntly put, for medium-to-high flying jobs, operations may be so constrained, it could be necessary to double-crew a single-engine aircraft in deployed operations.
In conclusion, the pandemic has been hard on our industry and the new rules will make matters worse. We have argued they have gone way too far. I have often said, “As the industry goes, so goes its industry association. HAC has seen a drop of roughly 25 per cent in operator membership and associate revenue in its 2021-2022 membership year, beginning September 1, 2021.
Only with the assistance of our members can we hope to influence the final impact of these regulations. We’d like to take the opportunity to thank the operators and associates who have renewed their memberships this year, and we would like to urge those operators and associates who have not renewed – or who are not members – to contact HAC to join/rejoin without delay. Does the level of support that HAC receives from its operators and associates affect our ability to influence change? Absolutely. Together we are stronger.
Fred Jones is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Helicopter Association of Canada.