----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, May 29, 2007 11:40 AM
Subject: Request for Review/Public Inquiry
Senator Larry Campbell
Senator D. Ross Fitzpatrick
Senator Mobina S.B. Jaffer
Senator Pat Carney
Senator Gerry St. Germain
Dear Mr. Campbell;
More than two years ago, I lost my husband to a
terrible air taxi accident off the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Barely five miles from their take-off in Campbell River and still in a
well-populated area with steady marine traffic - including the Quadra-Cortes
bi-hourly ferry, no emergency transmission was received. My husband was
not seriously injured in the accident and survived for several hours in his
floater coat before slowly drowning. The full "story" can be read on our
In the course of my search for answers to how this
could happen, I have become more and more horrified by what I have learned about
the air taxi industry in Canada.
I have come to believe
there was a time when Canada was a leader in aviation knowledge, and set the
world standards for aviation law. Budgetary constraints, deregulation of
fares, lack of oversight, mismanagement and the many difficulties involved in
overseeing such a diverse landscape have resulted in our falling far behind that
example we once set.
In 1998 the Final Report on Safety in Air
Taxi Operations (SATOPs) was completed, with a number of recommendations
referencing operational problems in remote regions, pilot remuneration, federal
oversight issues, and the need for the Transportation Safety Board to examine
operational problems which may have led to accidents. Many of these
recommendations have been all but ignored. In 2001, the TSB recommended
(A01-01) that the "The Department of Transport undertake a review of its
safety oversight methodology, resources, and practices, particularly as they
relate to smaller operators and those operators who fly in or into remote areas,
to ensure that air operators and crews consistently operate within the safety
regulations." According to then Transport Minister David Collenette, "In
advance of the TSB recommendation, Transport Canada initiated a phased study to
review safety oversight methodology, resources and practices" and "Transport
Canada will respond to the findings of that study as the next step in
continually improving the safety of the air taxi sector". The report,
known as the "DMR Report", was due to be released
on September 12th. It was shelved post 9/11. The results sere never
Columbia, it is believed by most that logging is the most dangerous
profession. However, the WorkSafeBC Fatalities Reports for 1989 to 1998
shows us that the fatality rate for the air taxi industry is more than
twice that of logging, with a death rate of 21.5 per 10,000 people-years,
compared to loggings' death rate of 9.3. Some might say things have
improved over the last ten years. Yet between '89 and '98 there were 49
deaths, an average of about five deaths per year. In 2005, the year my
husband (not the pilot, but a logger) was killed, there were 9 pilot deaths
accepted through WorkSafeBC - nearly twice that of the previous average.
Things have not gotten better.
To try to understand the aviation industry
from an aviator's point of view, I became a part of an aviation forum on the
internet in March of 2006. At the time, I knew very little about the
industry beyond my disappointment with the TSB official accident 'report'
in my own case. Over the past year, I have learned that the lack of
oversight and common sense I felt had been used by the regulator's over the air
taxi operator involved in my husband's death was not unique. I have
learned that across the provinces there are many who feel that this happens far
too often. TCCA officials currently make and enforce interpretations
of policy both individually and regionally, without any system of checks and
balances. Worse still, there are several who claim to have tried to
complain about the errors and misconduct of various TCCA officials, and have
been faced with retribution instead of justice. Offending officials have
merely been moved within the department. It is believed by some, that
there are several officials within the highest ranks of TCCA who have some
serious transgressions to answer for. It is felt that unless these
contraventions are made public, no change will take place for the better.
Some of these individuals and operators are willing to come forward and have
spoken privately with me, others continue to be afraid and talk only
anonymously. Perhaps some of this information should be considered under
the light of the newly enacted Bill C-2, the Federal Accountability Act.
Currently, the TCCA runs a very large and diverse department without any
third-party review system, or method by which they can truly be held
accountable. There is no Ombudsman for Transport Canada.
There is currently a great deal of talk in the
industry about the 'new' Safety Management System, touted by Transport Canada as
being the latest fix-all. While SMS is in principle an excellent tool, it
will not solve many of the problems in the air taxi industry unless
Transport Canada Civil Aviation also takes a new approach. Most safe
operators' already have some kind of safety system in place, and unless
Transport Canada take more consideration of the recommendations made in regard
to their own oversight in the Safety in Air Taxi Operations Report of 1998, SMS
will make little difference in the charter air industry. Unless Bill C-2
is acted upon and enforced, Bill C-6 , An Act to Amend the Aeronautics Act, and
its many positive aspects will be ineffectual. There have been many
witnesses heard before the Standing Committee on Transportation, Infrastructures
and Communities who agree with my views, and as a result, recent changes to the
proposed amendments have been introduced.
Air taxi pilots have no union, professional
association or other effective lobbying group. A Transport Canada
inspector recently made a presentation to the Standing Committee on
Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities. Mr. Hugh
Danford remarked that while there are over 19,000 aviation licences issued in
Canada, only approxiamately 4000 of those are members of trade
associations. This leaves most flight instructors, bush pilots, charter
pilots, corporate pilots, agricultural spray pilots, and air ambulance pilots,
among others, with no access to a professional association. Mr. Danford
recommends the establishment of a mandatory professional association, with
something akin to a "Federal Professional Pilots Act" to give it strength.
This recommendation is likely to receive a great deal of support from those in
Adding to this problem is that of accident investigation.
Because of financial constraints and the limited ability of some 220 odd TSB
investigators for all Transport Canada sectors to examine the causes of all
accidents in all sectors, these occupational injuries and deaths are not always
investigated for cause. In my case, five men lost their lives that day,
due to an easily alterable though lengthy chain of events. Yet no
investigation for cause is being done, as we are told nothing new can be
learned. The "lack of information" touted by the TSB resulted in no
investigation into infringements of the Canada Labour Code and the
responsibilities of the company to maintain a safe working environment. I
believe it is essential that the Worker's Compensation Boards and/or
Occupational Health and Safety Boards for all the provinces and territories
should be allowed to be actively involved in accident investigations where
injuries or deaths of worker's have occurred. TCCA's OH&S department
is not effective.
We have been demanding a public inquiry into this
matter for some time. Neither the TSB nor the BC Coroner Service have
responded to these demands. We believe that this accident should be a
"case study" for all that is wrong with the air taxi industry.
At this time, we request a formal review of this
information, and your assistance in getting a public inquiry into the events
surrounding the deaths of these five souls.
492 S. McPhedran Rd.