CBAA touts success of designee program

 - September 14, 2006, 9:20 AM

An upbeat Rich Gage, president of the Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA), told attendees at the annual general meeting at its Montreal convention last month that the association is in excellent financial shape, experiencing steady growth and investigating new opportunities to increase its strength and influence. And while the convention set record attendance and exhibitor numbers, Gage noted that his board of directors was also looking at strategic innovations to make more improvements in that direction, as well.

A major step forward for the association came late last year with the formal adoption into Canadian law of the transfer to CBAA of administrative and management authority over the innovative private operator certificate (POC) program from Transport Canada (TC). (Previously the POC program was a voluntary government/industry collaborative activity but not formally recognized in the country’s law.)

Conceived and developed in cooperation with TC, the POC program delegates to CBAA-authorized auditors many of the previous responsibilities of TC inspectors, which reduces red tape and provides corporate operators with much faster response to their needs.

The auditor concept is unique to CBAA, and the individuals CBAA appointed to those positions have strong professional qualifications and extensive experience in business aviation. Every corporate aircraft operator in Canada, other than federal and provincial flight departments, is a POC participant. Other Canadian aviation organizations, such as the Helicopter Association of Canada, have expressed interest in negotiating similar delegations of responsibility with TC.

New Service Offerings Likely

CBAA is also looking to expand its services. One area is in training in the so-called “soft skills” of aircraft management, risk-management techniques and planning, interpretation of new regulations and similar areas that are difficult to keep up with in day-to-day activities. While these services are expected to be particularly appealing to smaller operators, one attendee commented that such updating reviews would be equally valuable to larger flight departments. To that end, Glenn Priestley, a former vice president of the Air Transport Association of Canada, will join CBAA as director of training, charged with developing this initiative.

Gage told attendees that CBAA was in preliminary discussions that could lead to a working relationship with the Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC). Unlike its U.S. counterpart, the Canadian business aviation community remains on cordial terms with the airlines.

(Even when Nav Canada introduced user fees some years ago, CBAA and ATAC, as members of Nav Canada’s board of directors, agreed that while fees were an unavoidable cost of doing business, they should be weight-based, thereby avoiding much of the “all radar blips are equal” debate currently raging between NBAA and the U.S. Air Transport Association.) Noting the organizational synergy that such a relationship would produce, Gage stated that closer collaboration with ATAC and other aviation organizations “would better leverage the larger scope of unified resources, and produce a more productive, influential and powerful entity.”