Back in the Pilot’s Seat: Transport Canada Takes Authority over Business Aviation Away from CBAA

Effective April 1, 2011, Transport Canada will take back the certification and oversight functions for business aviation (Subpart 604 operators) from the Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA).  Starting April 1, 2010, Transport Canada will begin enhancing its surveillance of the CBAA.

Transport Canada contracted these functions to the CBAA in 1999, when it initiated the “Flight 2005” program of self-regulation to promote a shared commitment to enhancing aviation safety in Canada and delegating safety management.

As a part of that program, Transport Canada introduced Canadian Aviation Regulation 604.01, which gave the CBAA certification and oversight functions for business aviation.  The CBAA committed to introducing and monitoring safety management systems (SMS) as a business tool in the management of flight operations.  Under the oversight of the CBAA, each operator was required to develop a safety management system that identified inherent operational risks, establish procedures for mitigating those risks and establish self-evaluation procedures.

Transport Canada’s recent actions were in part motivated by an investigation report released last fall by the Transportation Safety Board, which identified serious deficiencies in an operator’s SMS.  The subject of the investigation was the crash of a Bombardier business jet at Fox Harbour on November 11, 2007.  In its report, the TSB observed:

“Since the inception of this new approach to regulating the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) subpart 604 operators, Transport Canada did not exercise effective oversight of the CBAA, its accredited auditors or POC holders.  It did not have a program established to observe or participate in audits conducted by the CBAA’s accredited auditors to verify that this new approach was meeting its safety objectives.”

Canadian Transport Minister, John Baird, declared that the act of taking back Transport Canada’s authority supported his previous comments in the House of Commons on December 1, 2009, when he stated that he “did not support outsourcing safety monitoring to organizations in the private sector” as he considers it to be a core responsibility of government and the department.

Implicit in this statement is the conclusion that the Flight 2005 program is no longer Transport Canada policy.

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