AD Main Menu

In Canada, a push for aviation safety for small planes

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic

Canada's Transportation Safety Board is continuing to push for aviation safety across the country and throughout the Arctic. Two safety issues remain conspicuous because "we haven't seen a decrease in the numbers":

• Landing accidents including runway overruns

• Collisions with land and water.

"We're more or less communicating to the industry and the regulator, Transport Canada, that there is a concern there," said TSB spokesperson John Lee.

Earlier this summer, Canada's opposition New Democratic Party criticized the Conservative government for being slow to push for new safety measures in the North. Transport Canada had just introduced mandatory Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems for smaller planes -- 16 years after the board first recommended such a system.

Lee said that until all planes are equipped with the systems, the risk of collisions remains a concern.

On runway overruns, the board wants pilots to get better information on runway surface conditions, such as ice and snow. Lee said the board also wants bigger safety areas at the ends of runways.

But Lee did acknowledge the challenge of implementing these kinds of safety measures in the North. "Now, of course, in remote areas the cost of designing and building runways is such that perhaps it's very expensive to include these large overrun areas, or larger overrun areas," he said. "Even the terrain and geography might preclude making these overrun areas due to geographic features such as rivers and creeks."

Lee said these issues remain on the TSB's Watch List because it does not feel Transport Canada has dealt with them to the board's satisfaction.

The Air Line Pilots Association International has also recently been urging Transport Canada and the government to move faster on implementing safety measures.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.