Rapid COVID-19 testing opens to Edmonton airport staff

From CTV News – link to source story

Nicole Weisberg, CTV News Edmonton | Wednesday, March 31, 2021 1:34PM MDT

Numi Health

Numi Health Inc. conducting a COVID-19 antigen test on staff at the Edmonton International Airport on Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

EDMONTON — The Edmonton International Airport (EIA) has launched a new program to provide rapid COVID-19 testing to front-line airport staff.

The eight-week pilot project is voluntary and currently not available to passengers or the general public.

“This is another level of security and safety for not only our employees, but also for passengers who have to travel right now,” Myron Keehn, EIA’s vice president of air service and business development, told CTV News Edmonton.

“As air travel starts to return, some form of screening program may be a part of that, so we wanted to get ahead of that.”

Mobile medical service provider Numi Health Inc. is administering the antigen tests. Airport officials said results are delivered in less than an hour.

“I have done it once already and it’s very, very quick. It gives people peace of mind,” said Keehn.

“For the people who do security, our flight crews, or whatever, they’re very pleased they have something they can access. It’s easier for them to do it here. They don’t have to go anywhere.”

The Alberta government is helping with the program by paying for 4,000 tests.

Staff can be tested twice a week until May 22.

“We are doing 500 tests a week,” said Keehn. “And we encourage all employees, whether they’re working in cargo or car rentals, or especially food and beverage, airline check-in, security, to take advantage of the program.”

In a news release, EIA reminded travellers it’s still offering domestic flights for essential travel and is averaging between 900-1,200 passengers a day.

The release also said that later in the year, travel and industry experts are forecasting a strong demand for travel both within and outside of Canada.

Numi Health Inc. also offers COVID-19 antigen and PCR tests at the Calgary International Airport. 

27 air traffic controllers targeted for layoffs in Gander

From CBC News – link to source story

Cuts are part of Nav Canada’s countrywide restructuring

Garrett Barry · CBC News · Mar 28, 2021

This is Nav Canada’s air traffic control centre in Gander. Air traffic control jobs are coveted in the town of Gander and are highly paid. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Twenty-seven air traffic controllers in Gander are living in a state of limbo, having been told they are targets for layoffs that won’t come into effect for months.

They’ve all been given “surplus letters,” informing them they will be laid off in September, barring any changes. In the meantime, the union representing the controllers is promising to fight on their behalf.

“We have a lot of concerns about the process the company has taken,” said Ian Thomson, Atlantic regional vice-president of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association.

He said the union has filed grievances and an unfair labour practice complaint, and is continuing to speak with Nav Canada.

The coming cuts are part of a restructuring effort launched by Nav Canada last year, and follow earlier cuts to the company’s paid training program. In September, 15 trainees were cut from the program, including seven who were in their final stages, according to the union.

Rebecca Torraville, an air traffic controller in Gander, made this digital drawing representing herself and other air traffic controllers who have been sent layoff notices. There are 27 workers in danger of being laid off, according to their union. (Submitted by Rebecca Torraville)

In a statement, Nav Canada said the cuts are necessary “given the current pressures facing the company.”

“Nav Canada must act promptly to safely streamline operations to ensure that the services supplied align with market demands,” wrote Brian Boudreau, a spokesperson for the company, in the statement.

Ian Thomson, Atlantic regional vice-president of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association, says the union has filed grievances and an unfair labour practice complaint. (Submitted by Ian Thomson)

Despite the fact that the controllers continue to work, Thomson said the surplus letters have had a devastating impact.

“It’s tough on everybody’s self-worth,” he said. “You put all this effort into training … and for a lot of people, their parents were air traffic controllers, and it’s been a dream of theirs their whole lives.

“In an industry where historically nobody would ever think of a layoff.”

Traffic stalled

The centre in Gander handles transatlantic flights. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it had been a hive of activity.

In 2017 it handled almost 10,000 flights a week, according to statistics from the International Civil Aviation Organization.

But international travel has been particularly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic: down some 85 per cent in January compared with the year before.

Nav Canada’s February traffic data shows that “weighted charging units” — a measure that combines flights, plane size and distance flown — is down 58 per cent across the country compared with February 2020.

An air traffic controller monitors transatlantic routes from the Gander centre in 2019. (CBC)

Thomson says he believes there’s a pent-up demand for travel, and predicts a rapid recovery when COVID-19 restrictions are loosened and more vaccines are administered.

That’s a part of the reason that he’s optimistic that some of the layoff notices will be rescinded, or individuals quickly recalled.

In the meantime, he said, those who have been served with surplus letters are facing a lot of uncertainty.

“The reality is, the training we receive is highly specialized. It’s geared directly toward air traffic control,” he said. “It’s not going to get you into being a doctor or a lawyer, you know. You’re really starting back at Square 1.”

Gander’s mayor, Percy Farwell, says that loss will be felt right across his community. He also hopes that many of the workers and trainees will return to the air traffic control centre when air travel rebounds.

Gander Mayor Percy Farwell says the losses will be felt across the town. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

He estimates many of the trainees that were cut would have stayed in Gander to work, buying houses and cars and spending their salaries in town.

“Young families that would have spent their working lives here, most likely, and everything that entails and adds to our community,” he said. “Having young, active families here. So it’s serious.”

FAA to require A220 wing-to-body fairing inspections

By Jon Hemmerdinger | 31 March 2021

US regulators are following Canada’s lead by proposing that Airbus A220 operators be required to inspect the type for potential cracks in wing-to-body fairing components.

The Federal Aviation Administration has addressed the concern with a proposed airworthiness directive (AD) made public on 31 March.

The proposal responds to “a report of cracking in the longeron, frame and tie-rod on [the] left and right sides of the aft [wing-to-body fairing] structure”, it says.

Delta Air Lines Airbus A220-100
Source: Airbus

The issue occurs “near the tie-rod attachment at fuselage section 973” and likely results from “excessive tie-rod preload”, it adds.

Airbus has already issued a service bulletin addressing the concern.

The FAA says the issue could affect both A220-100s and A220-300s. The cracks threaten the “integrity” of the wing-to-body fairing and could lead to “parts departing the airline, loss of radio altimeter and effects on airplane stability and performance”, the FAA says.

The proposal would require US airlines to complete inspections and potential repairs as described in an AD issued by Transport Canada in October 2020.

Canada’s order requires airlines to complete steps laid out Airbus’ service bulletin and an update to its A220 maintenance publication.

Those steps include adjusting “the load on certain tie-rods”, and repeat inspections.

US carriers Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways operate A220s.

Ready for takeoff: YFC terminal expansion completed

Departures Lounge at the Fredericton International Airport

Ready for takeoff: YFC terminal expansion completed

March 29, 2021

Ahead of schedule and under budget, the Fredericton International Airport is now modernized, expanded, and ready for service to resume

The Fredericton International Airport (YFC) has completed construction on its much-anticipated terminal expansion project. The new YFC will be a cornerstone of economic recovery, creating a strong impression on first-time visitors to our region while offering locals a comfortable, convenient gateway for business and leisure travel. With improved amenities and security as well as additional space for public health precautions such as physical distancing, this modernized terminal building is ready for the future.

A record 427,085 travellers used the airport in 2019, and YFC’s consistent year-over-year traffic growth made it the fastest-growing airport in the Maritimes between 2010 and 2019. That growth, combined with evolving security requirements, had stretched the existing terminal building well beyond its intended capacity of 200,000 passengers per year.

Passengers at the Fredericton International Airport

“As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be more important than ever for our province to showcase what a tremendous place New Brunswick is to live, work, and play. This bright, modern airport will play a key role in our economic recovery,” says Fredericton International Airport Authority (FIAA) President and CEO Johanne Gallant.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic emerged at the mid-point of the project, the terminal expansion was completed under budget and four months ahead of schedule. Under the leadership of Mathers Project Management Consulting and BIRD Construction the project was able to continue smoothly. Enhanced health protocols were implemented at the beginning of the pandemic. Employing primarily New Brunswick firms and workers, the project was able to continue construction with minimal disruptions to its labour force.

Mathers Project Management Consulting and BIRD Construction have done a tremendous job here at YFC, and we are grateful for their dedication and expertise,” says Mary Goggin, Chair of the FIAA Board of Directors. “Their leadership enabled us to keep this project moving throughout the pandemic, employing hundreds of New Brunswickers and preparing our region for the upcoming economic recovery.”

The YFC expansion project was a partnership between the Fredericton International Airport Authority, the Province of New Brunswick, and the Government of Canada.

“Our government understands the vital role the Fredericton International Airport plays in the province’s economic development. This is why we have invested to expand and improve the terminal. I am pleased to see the project completed at this vital time which will support New Brunswick’s post-COVID economic recovery,” said the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, on behalf of the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

“The expansion of the terminal at the Fredericton International Airport (YFC) has been a multi-phased project involving a great deal of commitment and cooperation to get it over the finish line,” said Gary Crossman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for the Regional Development Corporation. “Congratulations to everyone involved on completing this significant project.”

Chess Piece Cafe in the Fredericton International Airport

Travellers will be pleased to discover that the new terminal offers enhanced food service options. Local business Chess Piece Patisserie and Café was selected as the food service provider, and will serve its signature coffee, desserts, and meals along with local craft brewery products. The new terminal features a café inside the departures lounge, which will open once air service resumes.  When pandemic restrictions are eased, an additional café will be open in the Arrivals area serving both travellers and the community.

Due to the travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, scheduled air service has been temporarily suspended at YFC. The airport authority continues to work with airlines and provincial and federal governments to ensure that air service is restored when the time is right.

  • New café location in the departures lounge and upgraded café in the arrivals area, featuring local craft beer, espresso beverages, and food prepared by Chess Piece Patisserie and Café.
  • Ample plugs and USB ports throughout the terminal to allow travellers to charge their devices and stay connected.
  • Upgraded male and female washrooms, private washrooms for families or individuals of any gender, and nursing rooms.
  • Children’s play area located next to the café in the departures lounge.
  • Natural light throughout the terminal.
  • Additional space for air carriers, and flexibility to move designated check-in counters as needed.
  • Improved security, including appropriate space for security screening lines and additional cameras throughout the building.
  • Airside corridor allowing passengers to exit and enter the building closer to their aircraft.
  • Additional space in all areas for passengers, allowing for physical distancing.
  • Upgraded baggage handling facilities.

Swoop Expands Summer Schedule and Brings New Routes and More Ultra-Low Fares to British Columbia

Airline introduces Victoria as new destination and adds more routes to Kelowna for peak summer travel

VICTORIA, BC, March 31, 2021 /CNW/ – Today, Swoop, Canada’s leading ultra-low-cost airline, announced an expansion to its summer schedule, bringing new routes and more ultra-low fares to British Columbia. The airline’s expanded summer operations will bring new service to Victoria and celebrates the return and addition of new routes from Kelowna. 

“Our summer schedule expansion is in response to strong advance sales and in anticipation of demand from Canada’s most price-conscious travellers as they look towards the accelerated pace of vaccine rollouts across the country,” said Charles Duncan, President of Swoop. “We are thrilled to be offering Canadians even more opportunities to connect with British Columbia’s vibrant West Coast and Okanagan region this summer.” 

The airline, which had previously postponed planned operations to Victoria in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, will now see an increase of flights and routes in three cities within British Columbia, ensuring that Canadians across the province have access to domestic air travel at an affordable price tag. Today’s announcement is the first of several to come for the airline as they intend to bring even more ultra-low-fares coast-to-coast. 

Swoop’s new service to Victoria will include flights from Toronto, ON and Edmonton, AB. In addition, beginning June 20, 2021, service to Kelowna will now be available from Hamilton, ON and once again from Winnipeg, MB. Full details of Swoop’s expanded service in British Columbia can be found below. 

Planned Network Service: New and Returning Routes   

Route Frequency Planned Start Date  
Toronto – Victoria  Up to 6x weeklyMay 20, 2021  
Edmonton – VictoriaUp to 7x weeklyMay 20, 2021  
Hamilton – KelownaUp to 6x weeklyJune 20, 2021
Winnipeg – KelownaUp to 3x weeklyJune 20, 2021

Additional BC Network Service

Route Frequency 
Abbotsford – Edmonton  Up to 21x weekly
Abbotsford – HamiltonUp to 7x weekly
Abbotsford – TorontoUp to 7x weekly
Abbotsford – WinnipegUp to 7x weekly
Kelowna – TorontoUp to 7x weekly

“As we continue to plan for recovery, our focus remains on ensuring the safe reopening of air travel within Canada,” continued Duncan. “When the time comes for a safe resumption of travel, it will be critical to ensure access to affordable travel exists within our borders and Swoop is strategically positioned to meet that need in British Columbia and across the country.”

Additional Quotes

“As the economy begins to reopen, we are pleased that Swoop recognizes Victoria as a destination that travellers will look forward to returning to or discovering the beauty and culture that Victoria and Vancouver Island has to offer for the first time.” Said Geoff Dickson, Victoria Airport Authority President and CEO. 

“Swoop’s commitment to Greater Victoria is welcome news – both as we recover from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond” said Paul Nursey, CEO – Destination Greater Victoria. “It goes without saying we are located on an island. Reliable transportation to and from the destination is vital to the success of our visitor economy. There are other benefits to a low-cost carrier like Swoop entering market as well. It means Greater Victoria becomes an option for visitors that might not have considered air travel without ultra-low cost carrier options. Increased competition amongst transportation providers means consumers have more choice for how they experience Greater Victoria.”

“We are proud to welcome Hamilton and Winnipeg non-stop to YLW this summer,” said Sam Samaddar, Airport Director. “Swoop’s additional destinations will allow Canadians more direct options to the Okanagan this summer season.”

“Safe, reliable air service with direct, non-stop flights is essential to the recovery of the tourism industry and important contributor to our local and national economy. While we wait for interprovincial travel restrictions to lift, we hope Swoop customers from Hamilton, Winnipeg, Toronto, and surrounding areas will begin to plan their future trip to Kelowna and the Okanagan. We have incredible experiences for leisure and business visitors waiting to be enjoyed across all four seasons, and we’re looking forward to welcoming you here, soon.”  Lisanne Ballantyne, President & CEO, Tourism Kelowna

To learn more about Swoop’s visit  FlySwoop.com  or connect with Swoop on  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

About Swoop   

About Swoop: Established in 2018, Swoop is Canada’s leading ultra-low-cost airline, independently operated as part of the WestJet Group of companies, offering scheduled service to destinations in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean. Swoop offers completely unbundled products and services, creating the unique opportunity for travellers to control their costs and customize their experience by purchasing only the extras they desire.  

Swoop operates a modern fleet of nine Boeing 737-800 aircraft, equipped with in-seat power and Wi-Fi connectivity. Flyswoop.com allows travellers to quickly and easily book flights, manage bookings, check-in, view boarding passes, track flights and access Wi-Fi service in-flight.    

Royal Canadian Air Force Foundation Launches With a Major Initiative For Canadian Youth

Twenty scholarships to be awarded to students for study in areas related to aviation or aerospace

TORONTO, March 31, 2021 /CNW/ – The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Foundation today unveiled its purpose, mission, new identity, and website along with a major commitment to furthering the education of Canadian students in the areas of S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

The mission of the RCAF Foundation is to recognize, foster and celebrate the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) through community engagement, education programs and commemorative activities. 

“In 2017 as Commander of the RCAF, we began to think about the Air Force Centennial in 2024 and the type of support we would require to honour this vital national institution. Today is the fruition of our plan toward celebrating the RCAF milestone, legacy, and to ensure it is given meaningful support in the years that follow”, said former Commander of the RCAF Lieutenant-General (Ret’d) Michael Hood, CMM CD. “I loved being a member of the RCAF, serving my country, being the face of Canadian commitment and generosity in my many missions abroad. And I was privileged to serve alongside so many talented men and women. Today through the RCAF Foundation we will honour and celebrate our history and the many men and women who have made the RCAF the renowned and cherished institution it is today.”

The RCAF Foundation’s new logo and brand looks back to the nearly 100 years of the Royal Canadian Air Force with the classic roundel imagery but also forward over the horizon and into the future. Said Jeremy Diamond, Founding CEO, RCAF Foundation. “This identity reflects our purpose to inspire Canadians to learn about and support this important national institution, and highlight the future of Canadian aviation, ensuring its dynamic growth and expansion.”

The Foundation’s first campaign #ONE DAY I WILL Challenge asks youth across Canada to share their hopes for their future in a short video clip. The Challenge will be launched on April 12 on Instagram.  

“The Foundation will look to the future to inspire young Canadians to join in creating their own legacy and contribution to the ventures of aviation and aerospace”, said John Wright, Honorary Colonel, Chief of the Defence Staff Office and Chair of the RCAF Foundation Board of Directors. To emphasize this commitment, today we are announcing four celebratory initiatives focused on Cadets and youth.”

The Foundation will financially contribute to the Royal Canadian Air Force Association so they can meet their entire 2021 fundraising goal and bring their Trust Portfolio to a total of $300,000 which is annually leveraged to award Cadet flight training scholarships.

Twenty scholarships will be awarded to students for study in a S.T.E.M. area that could lead to a future role in areas related to the fields of either aviation or aerospace including:

  • Ten $1,000 scholarships by mid August of this year to young men and women whose parents are either current or former serving members of the RCAF and are either entering or already attending any Canadian post secondary educational institution
  • Five $1,000 scholarships to young women who are entering or attending any Canadian post secondary educational institution
  • Five $1,000 scholarships to any young person who is entering a Canadian post secondary educational institution and identifies as any one of the following:
    • Black, Indigenous, and people of colour
    • Visible minority
    • LGBTQ2T
    • Person with disabilities

The scholarships will be awarded by mid August of 2021. The criteria for application will be posted to the RCAF Foundation web site by May 15, 2021.

The RCAF Foundation, an arms-length not-for-profit foundation, areas of focus will include support for like-minded organizations; partnerships with aviation and aerospace industry; engagement with Air Cadets, students, and young professionals; community initiatives to create important legacy projects; and honouring the history of the RCAF in partnership with museums and historic sites.

A replay of the announcement webcast will be available on the website.

Follow us: Instagram: rcaf_foundation, Twitter: rcaf_foundation, Facebook: RCAF Foundation / Fondation de l’ARC

Air Canada Further Extends Aeroplan Elite Status and Provides Additional Flexibility for All Members

  • Members will enjoy their current Elite Status through the end of 2022
  • Validity of all Priority Reward vouchers issued in 2020 extended by one full year, and valid for use until October 2022
  • Other flexible policies, including a pause on points expiry, also extended

MONTREAL, March 31, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada today announced several updates for Aeroplan Elite Status members, ensuring their status remains in effect, to give them flexibility and certainty. The changes include the extension of current Elite Status until the end of 2022, in addition to a previous extension through 2021, as well as the possibility to accelerate their status qualification in the years ahead.

“Loyalty is a two-way street, and we understand and appreciate why so many of your travel plans are interrupted this year. For that reason, we are automatically extending Aeroplan Elite Status for an additional year—through to the end of 2022,” said Mark Nasr, Senior Vice President, Products, Marketing and eCommerce at Air Canada. “These changes are some of the many ways we’re recognizing our members and demonstrating our commitment to welcoming them back onboard, whenever it’s the right time for them to travel again.”

This is the second year Air Canada has extended the status of its Aeroplan Elite members. In order to provide greater ease and flexibility, changes for Aeroplan Elite Status members include:

Automatic extension of 2021 Aeroplan Elite Status
All Aeroplan Elite Status for 2021 will automatically be extended through to the end of 2022.

Priority Reward Vouchers also extended
Air Canada is also extending the validity of all unused Priority Reward vouchers issued in 2020 by one full year, making them valid for use until October 2022.

Elite Status Qualification Jumpstart for 2022
For Aeroplan members who earn any Elite Status through their 2021 flight activity, the Status Qualifying Miles, Segments, and Dollars earned in 2021 will be honoured the next year, jumpstarting their status qualification in the years to come.

These improvements come in addition to other changes for all Aeroplan members:

Change or cancel Flight Rewards, free of charge
Aeroplan flight rewards booked through April 30, 2021 (for travel through April 2022) can be changed or cancelled free of charge, at any time. Members who opt to cancel will receive all of their Aeroplan points back in their account, plus a full refund of any associated taxes, fees and surcharges on the unused value of their travel.

Temporary pause to expiration of Aeroplan points
We have further paused expiry of Aeroplan points until January 31, 2022. This means that between now and January 30, 2022, any points which would have expired will not. Effective January 31, 2022, our recently improved expiration policy will apply, meaning that points will expire if an eligible transaction has not been completed prior to this date.

For more information, please visit: https://www.aircanada.com/ca/en/aco/home/aeroplan/news/covid-19.html

About Air Canada

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline, and in 2020 was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050. 

Sault airport grounds planned multi-million-dollar expansion

$5.3-million project stalled for at least three more years

By: David Helwig | 29 March 2021

20200530-SSM Airport summer stock-DT-02Darren Taylor/SooToday

One of the brightest stars in Sault Ste. Marie’s pandemic-plagued economic firmament has dropped from the sky.

City councillors will be told Monday that Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corp. has decided to defer its planned $5.3-million expansion for at least three years.

“The aviation industry has been heavily impacted by COVID-19,” says Tom Vair, the city’s deputy chief administrative officer for community development and enterprise services.

“The $5.3-million expansion project included enhancements to existing infrastructure, further expansion of current tenants, as well as attraction of new tenants (accommodation/housing development),” Vair says in a report to Mayor Provenzano and city council.

Including a hotel in front of the terminal, the project was expected to create 100 full-time jobs over the short- to medium term.

In October 2019, councillors agreed to give the airport $200,000 over two years to help get the construction project off the ground.

But COVID-19 swooped in last year and wreaked havoc on the air transportation sector.

Last November, city council agreed to defer the project, with its cash to be delivered instead in $100,000 instalments in 2022 and 2023.

“Due to the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19, the Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corp. (SSMADC) has made the decision to defer the project for at least three years,” Vair says in his latest update.

The airport is now asking to withdraw its request for city economic development cash.

“The SSMADC is aware that a new application for any future project will be required,” Vair says.

Councillors will be asked Monday to release the airport’s $200,000, returning it to the community development fund for other purposes.

Monday’s city council meeting will be livestreamed on SooToday starting at 4:30 p.m.

– SooToday

Cargojet Announces Voting Results From Annual Meeting of Shareholders

MISSISSAUGA, ON, March 30, 2021 /CNW/ – Cargojet Inc. (TSX: CJT) (“Cargojet” or the “Company”) announced the voting results from its annual meeting of shareholders held today virtually via live audio webcast.

Shareholders voted in favour of all items of business, including the election of each of the director nominees as follows:

NomineeVotes ForVotes Withheld
(a)  Ajay Virmani
(b)  Arlene Dickinson
(c)  Alan Gershenhorn
(d)  Paul Godfrey
(e)  John Webster
10,614,893 (97.45%)
10,775,954 (98.93%)
10,554,844 (96.90%)
9,358,335 (85.92%)
9,645,095 (88.55%)
277,635 (2.55%)
116,574 (1.07%)
337,684 (3.10%)
1,534,193 (14.08%)
1,247,433 (11.45%)

Final voting results on all matters voted on at the meeting will be filed on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.

Cargojet is Canada’s leading provider of time sensitive premium air cargo services to all major cities across North America, providing Dedicated, ACMI and International Charter services and carries over 25,000,000 pounds of cargo weekly. Cargojet operates its network with its own fleet of 28 cargo aircraft.

Pilots may need simulation time before hitting the sky after pandemic grounding

From CTV News – link to source story

Brooke Taylor, CTVNews.ca Writer | Tuesday, March 30, 2021

air canada

TORONTO — Canadian airlines are resuming and expanding routes across the country ahead of an expected uptick in air travel this summer, but pilots need to brush up their skills before they can return to the skies.

After a year of strict travel restrictions and diminished routes, pilots haven’t been able to log as many hours in a plane as they normally would, and some are heading back to flight simulators before getting back in the cockpit.

“They’ll put the pilots into the simulator, they’ll put them on a refresher ground school, and make sure that they are competent when they get back up in the air,” CTV News aviation analyst Phyl Durdey told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on March 26.

Part of the challenge for pilots, he said, is retaining their technical skills.

“It’s the complexity of the systems, and keeping up on the systems,” he said. “Some pilots haven’t flown since April.”

“When you’re flying the newer-generation aircraft, it’s more computer programming and computer management than it is the hands and feet.”

Durdey said that with so many pilots laid off, some haven’t had access to simulators, and therefore don’t have the flight hours needed to be fit to fly.

“They’re going to have to basically put them through a refresher course to hone their skills again,” said Durdey.

“If they haven’t flown the required amount of hours in the last month or 90 days, they have to go back and do a complete refresher course.”

Air Canada says they’ve been able to keep most of their pilots current.

“Throughout the pandemic, Air Canada has continued to operate and the vast majority of our pilots has been flying regularly maintaining their competency. Additionally, we have training facilities with full flight simulators where pilots can regularly train and upgrade their skills,” Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick said in a statement to CTVNews.ca on March 26.

“Our pilots who are furloughed will receive a full aircraft course when they return to the airline,” he added.

Air Canada is set to resume routes to certain sun destinations in May and routes in Atlantic Canada in June.

WestJet is also set to add flights in Western Canada in anticipation of increased demand this summer. A spokesperson with WestJet told CTVNews.ca that their active pilots have been able to make enough flights to maintain currency on their qualifications.

“Flying and currency is always tracked and we utilize our flight simulators as required to ensure skills remain sharp. Additionally, pilots see a recurrent simulator training session, no less than once every six months to ensure proficiency is maintained and validated,” Morgan Bell said in an email on March 26.

When pilots become inactive due to furlough or layoffs, they must go through a more rigorous training program before resuming flight, according to the company.

“When a pilot is no longer considered active, it is a more extensive process similar to hiring and they do undergo additional ground, simulator and line training based on their inactivity timeline,” she added.

All pilots in Canada must meet qualifications set out by Transport Canada.

According to Transport Canada, every six months pilots must complete a minimum of five takeoffs and landings in the aircraft they typically carry passengers, and if they fly at night they must complete a minimum of five landings and takeoffs at night.

Every two years they have to complete a flight review with an instructor, take a Transport Canada seminar on aviation safety, participate in a Transport Canada approved training seminar, and pass a written exam for their licence.

“Airlines will have to train their pilots according to the Canadian Aviation Regulations requirements,” a spokesperson for Transport Canada told CTVNews.ca in an email.

As a result of the pandemic, Air Canada and WestJet have cut thousands of jobs. While their current roster of pilots may remain current, it could take weeks of training to bring furloughed pilots back up to speed.

But Canadians shouldn’t worry when they step foot on a plane again, there are systems in place to make sure things don’t go amiss.

“They’ve got checks and balances,” Durdey said.

And with two people in the cockpit, the room for error is smaller, with the pilots keeping each other in check, he said.

“They sit down, they check each other, they keep an eye on each other.”