New leader takes the helm at CBAA

 - October 1, 2008, 5:43 AM

Rich Gage has stepped down from his post as president and CEO of the Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA) with the expiration of his eight-year contract on August 25. Sam Barone has taken over the position. Barone was most recently president of the Air Transport Association of Canada, before which he had extensive management experience in both business and government, with a broad background across the transportation industry, including aviation.

Gage’s previous work as commanding officer of Canada’s VIP Flight Operations Group lent significant weight to his dealings with the media, bureaucrats and politicians as he presented corporate aviation’s case.

Gage’s many initiatives essentially transformed the association from a group of Canadian aviation organizations into a high-profile professional body that could influence senior rulemaking officials in Transport Canada and top management at Nav Canada, the country’s navigation service provider. His most notable achievement was the creation of the private operator certificate (POC) program, which gives independently audited corporate operators extensive safety monitoring and operational responsibilities, freeing them from many of the constraints of often inconvenient, and sometimes arbitrary, Transport Canada inspections. The concept was subsequently adopted by IBAC, with implementation by several overseas operators. ICAO has recognized the program as a valuable safety initiative.

Unfortunately, there still remains resentment about the program within the Transport Canada inspectorate, and the expected retirement of top level Transport Canada officials over the next 18 months, possibly including Merlin Preuss, its director general of civil aviation, who worked closely with Gage to implement the POC program and who has been its constant advocate, could see this resentment bubbling up again.

The association’s July convention, held in Toronto, was the second largest in the organization’s history. The event featured a busy static aircraft park, an increased number of exhibitors and a series of briefings on key areas of member interest, including a full pre-convention day dedicated to security aspects. With a high percentage of Canadian business flights going into the U.S., a knowledge of the current rules on either side of the border is as essential today as an updated set of Jeppesen charts.

A Nav Canada presentation on ADS-B also underscored the two nations’ different approaches to rulemaking. Like the FAA, Nav Canada is moving ahead with ground station installations, but neither it nor Transport Canada seems interested in mandatory equipage legislation. The Canadians, instead, are following a “performance-based” plan, where those operators who see benefits can take advantage of the systems as they are commissioned, while others can accept traditional, but less efficient, “procedural” radar separations.

A number of new CBAA initiatives were announced at the convention. These included the appointment of a vice president of marketing and sales, who will be tasked with further raising the association’s profile, expanding the convention and trade show and developing the business element of CBAA’s training facilitation program. Future plans also include the introduction of “webinars” on key topics for members.

As Gage said in his final address to the convention as its outgoing president and CEO, “CBAA is well placed to withstand the challenges of today and to extend its mandate to meet the expectations of tomorrow.”