Canada prepares for ATC regs transition

 - September 13, 2006, 10:39 AM

Transport Canada (TC), the government agency that regulates the country’s aviation activities, has presented its future policy philosophy in the recently published “Flight 2010–A Strategic Plan for Civil Aviation.” The document describes the agency’s planned transition from a prescriptive, or totally regulation-based, organization to one that is performance-based. The complete set of regulations will still exist, but their application will be tailored more closely to the different needs of specific types of operation, rather than the traditional, and often arbitrary, “one size fits all” approach.

Merlin Preuss, TC director general of civil aviation, said the agency will be “regulating smarter,” with rules more focused on results with fewer interventions, and designed to allow operators to be innovative in meeting them.

As part of its goal of smart regulation, TC has for several years brought operators, manufacturers and other concerned parties into the Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council, which was established to improve consultation across the industry, and to assess and recommend regulatory changes.

The three key principles underlying TC’s philosophy are risk assessment, safety management and delegation of authority, and these factors were essential elements in the establishment of CBAA’s Private Operator Certificate (POC) program. Launched in 2002 on a trial basis with a small number of corporate operators and with TC encouragement and oversight, the trade group initiative permitted TC-approved CBAA auditors to take over many of the responsibilities of TC inspectors.

The periodic audits cover primarily non-maintenance activities such as flight operations and training, but the association is continually assessing other areas. The program, according to Preuss, is “doing very well indeed, with evident safety improvements.”

Since the program launch all 244 CBAA member companies have enrolled. Last November the POC program received formal recognition within Canadian aviation legislation. Accordingly, CBAA took over the official responsibility for issuing government operating certificates to Canadian corporate flight departments.

“We are pleased with the progress we have achieved with the POC program, and its now formal recognition in law,” said CBAA president Rich Gage. “The move away from rigid checklists to performance-based operations is a step in the right direction. But it doesn’t stop here. We in CBAA and the rest of the aviation industry must continue to develop a broader, strategic perspective of how we are going to conduct our future affairs.”

Transport Canada transferred its ATC responsibility to the private, nonprofit Nav Canada in 1996, and leased most of its previously owned airports to private operators, but retained regulatory oversight of both. It is now reassessing its activities. As an essential element of its Flight 2010, TC has also introduced an internal integrated management system to bring performance-based processes to its day-to-day operations.