The Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA) is gaining momentum, president and CEO Rich Gage announced at the association’s annual general meeting in July. Gage reported that since the last meeting, membership has been increasing steadily, finances are strong, a new training program has been introduced and an internal integrated management system is being implemented.
Gage was particularly encouraged by the increase in the number of members now qualified under the association’s private operator certificate (POC) program. In the past 12 months, 52 corporate flight departments joined the program, which now includes virtually 100 percent of the non-government aircraft operator membership. Initiated by CBAA in 2004, the program is a Transport Canada (TC)-approved flight operations safety self-monitoring program, under which operator personnel have assumed many of the responsibilities of Transport Canada inspectors.
The program is geared toward an operator’s safety management system. While complying with the essential elements of TC’s safety requirements, the program recognizes and allows for deviations from the norm, such as extensive operations in northern Canada and the Arctic. In other words, it is not a “one size fits all” standard; rather, it has the flexibility to accommodate special circumstances.
Compliance is monitored on a regular basis by experienced auditors–mainly retired industry or government operations specialists–who are retained by CBAA and approved by TC, and who can arrange their inspections to accommodate an operator’s schedule. Canada’s helicopter operators are currently negotiating with TC for a similar program.
ATC in the ‘Oil Patch’
In addition to presentations and discussions about the future of air traffic management, safety and security and environmental challenges, the meeting included a Nav Canada close-up of the special procedures being implemented in the northern “oil patch.” There, three 737/BBJ-capable private airports–one ILS-equipped–operated by three separate resource exploration companies and within 20 miles of each other are nearing completion. The airports, from which chartered 737s will shuttle shift workers to and from Edmonton and Calgary, are key elements of major development initiatives.
Shell Oil, one of the three exploration companies involved, reportedly intends to invest more than $12 billion in the exploitation of the vast oil sands of northern Alberta. The region’s resources lie just below the surface and are extracted by open pit mining techniques and complex processing, rather than by deep well drilling, and are estimated to be second only to Saudi Arabia’s. Current production from existing oil sands facilities is more than one million barrels of high-grade oil per day.