Canadian authority warns operators over 5G risk to radio altimeters

From Flight Global – link to source story

By David Kaminski-Morrow | 18 June 2021

Canadian authorities are warning operators of the potential risk of interference to radio altimeters arising from 5G communications networks, following auction of part of the frequency spectrum.

The country’s spectrum regulator, ISED, is auctioning the 3.45-3.65GHz band during June and will allow mobile wireless systems to operate in the adjacent 3.65-4GHz band in 2023.

But these frequencies are close to the 4.2-4.4GHz band used by radio altimeters, which provide a direct measurement of aircraft height above terrain during approach and other phases of flight at low altitude.

The US-based regulatory guidance organisation Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics produced an analysis of 5G interference in October last year, after the aviation industry expressed concerns to the US Federal Communications Commission during the 5G deployment process.

RTCA says its assessment included testing “many representative radio-altimeter models”, to determine their tolerance to 5G interference, and examination of “multiple real-world operational scenarios” for civil aircraft in which such interference might directly affect safety.

aircraft on approach-c-Unsplash Artturi Jalli
Source: Unsplash/Artturi Jalli

Transport Canada has highlighted analysis pointing to risks from 5G interference

It concludes that there is a “major risk” that 5G systems using the 3.7-3.98GHz band “will cause harmful interference” to radio altimeters on “all types” of civil aircraft – including those operating commercial services.

“The results of the study performed clearly indicate that this risk is widespread and has the potential for broad impacts to aviation operations,” it adds.

Commercial air transport aircraft, it says, may be impacted by 5G at altitudes up to 4,000ft and at distances of just over 0.4nm from a 5G base station. It does state that adequate mitigation might be achieved by base-station deployments that take departure and approach flightpaths into account.

But the analysis shows a “much broader” operational impact for regional, business and general aviation, with interference levels exceeding tolerance limits across the majority of the relevant 2,500ft altitude range, at all tested lateral distances from the base station.

RTCA also found the impact was not limited only to intentional 5G system emissions in the 3.7-3.98GHz band but also spurious emissions from such systems within the protected 4.2-4.4GHz band.

Transport Canada says its attention has been drawn to the RTCA’s conclusions regarding disturbance to certain radio altimeters, notably at heights of less than 1,000ft, and is issuing a civil aviation safety alert to raise awareness of the potential risk.

It is also recommending precautionary operation measures ahead of confirmation of possible effects.

“The most undesirable outcome of interference is the indication of undetected wrong height information given by the radio altimeter,” it says.

“Depending on operations, equipment model and aircraft type, this kind of error could have significantly adverse impacts on flight safety.”

Transport Canada says operators should remind passengers and crews that all electronic devices should be carried in the cabin, on their person or in luggage. If these are placed in checked baggage, they should be turned off and protected from accidental activation.

All 5G personal devices carried should be turned off or set to non-transmitting modes, it adds, and any essential or emergency communications should be limited to 3G or 4G devices.

Transport Canada is also urging crews to report any disturbance to radio altimeters to air traffic control as soon as possible. Air navigation service Nav Canada and ISED are to provide guidance on reporting such events.

B.C. air traffic controllers warn post-pandemic staff shortages threaten safety, service

From CBC News – link to source story

Nav Canada insists passenger safety is not compromised at smaller airports

CBC News · Jun 16, 2021

The air traffic control tower at Kelowna International Airport was forced to shut down early twice in 2021, and transfer airspace control to overnight backup in Penticton. (YLW)

The Canadian Air Traffic Control Association (CATCA)  is warning that staffing shortages, particularly at smaller regional and general aviation airports, is threatening airspace safety and flight service.

Nick von Schoenberg, Pacific regional vice-president for the union, says as post-pandemic air travel increases, and airlines reintroduce routes, the pressures on air controllers will only increase.

“I don’t want to scare people that are getting into airplanes,” von Schoenberg said. “But there’s a limit. You just can’t keep pushing people that far, or that hard, for that long, without there being some implication on the level of safety.”

Von Schoenberg points to tower operations at Kelowna International Airport as an example. Air traffic controllers were forced to shut down early twice this year, and transfer airspace control to flight services specialists in Penticton.

Seven controllers currently work at Kelowna tower, when von Schoenburg believes there should be an allotment of 10. 

Von Schoenburg also says Nav Canada, the privately run non-profit corporation that owns and runs Canada’s civil air navigation system, has reduced the number of air traffic controller shifts in Kelowna.

“A number of controllers were working the maximum of overtime,” von Schoenberg says. “The company has taken the step of reducing staffing from five shifts per day to four … that’s something we strongly disagree with.”

In a statement to CBC News, Nav Canada’s manager of media relations Brian Boudreau, said “procedures are in place to ensure the highest level of safety is always maintained across the air navigation system.”

Boudreau confirmed the unexpected early shutdowns of Kelowna tower, stating overnight operations are transferred to Penticton daily, and both pilots and controllers are familiar with protocols.

“In these two events, and in similar events, neither airport accessibility nor safety was compromised; this remains a priority for Nav Canada,” he said.

Nav Canada, the privately run non-profit corporation that owns and runs Canada’s civil air navigation system, insists safety and service has not been compromised by pandemic layoffs (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press )


Von Schoenberg says operations in Prince George, Whitehorse, Victoria and Vancouver are similarly short-staffed.

NavCanada struggling through pandemic

In January, Nav Canada reported a “staggering” decline in flights through 2020 due to the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Air traffic plunged 60 per cent and revenues declined forcing the company to lay off at least 720 employees, almost 14 per cent of its workforce. The company also increased service fees by 30 per cent.

The company is now reversing some announced layoffs. 

This June, CBC news reported Nav Canada executives received some $7 million in bonuses in 2020. The company later announced the bonuses would be paid back after political and public outcry,

with file from CBC Kelowna’s Daybreak South

NAV CANADA reports May traffic figures

OTTAWA, ON, June 11, 2021 /CNW/ – NAV CANADA announced today its traffic figures for the month of May 2021, as measured in weighted charging units for enroute, terminal and oceanic air navigation services, in comparison to the last fiscal year and to its 2019 fiscal year. 

In May 2021 weighted charging units increased by an average of 48.6 percent compared to the same month in 2020. As compared to the same month in 2019, May 2021 weighted charging units decreased by an average of 60.8 percent.

Weighted charging units represent a traffic measure that reflects the number of billable flights, aircraft size and distance flown in Canadian airspace and is the basis for movement-based service charges, which comprise the vast majority of the Company’s air traffic revenue.

About NAV CANADA

NAV CANADA is a private, not-for-profit company, established in 1996, providing air traffic control, airport advisory services, weather briefings and aeronautical information services for more than 18 million square kilometres of Canadian domestic and international airspace.

The Company is internationally recognized for its safety record, and technology innovation. Air traffic management systems developed by NAV CANADA are used by air navigation service providers in countries worldwide.

NAV CANADA cancels surplus notices for air traffic controllers

June 4, 2021

NAV CANADA has been closely monitoring air traffic forecasts and is taking the necessary steps to ensure it has appropriate staffing to support the aviation industry recovery. Today, NAV CANADA has cancelled surplus notices to 41 air traffic controllers in area control centres in Gander, Moncton, Montreal and Edmonton. These air traffic controllers will remain on the job to provide vital air navigation services as the aviation industry begins its recovery.

“We are proactively taking this action to support our customers as they shift their focus to recovery. NAV CANADA remains ready and able to ensure the continued safety of Canada’s airspace as demand for air navigation services grows,” said Ray Bohn, President and CEO.

From the onset of the pandemic, NAV CANADA has been working to support safe operations and ensure the long-term sustainability of the Company. NAV CANADA’s workforce planning processes include multiple sources of information, including air traffic forecasts, which are designed to ensure that operations have the required resources to safely manage traffic throughout the pandemic, industry recovery and beyond. 

“NAV CANADA will play a pivotal role in the sector’s recovery and remains committed to protecting the safety of the travelling public now and in the future,” added Bohn.

About NAV CANADA

NAV CANADA is a private, not-for-profit company, established in 1996, providing air traffic control, airport advisory services, weather briefings and aeronautical information services for more than 18 million square kilometres of Canadian domestic and international airspace. The Company is internationally recognized for its safety record, and technology innovation. Air traffic management systems developed by NAV CANADA are used by air navigation service providers in countries worldwide.

NAV CANADA launches new drone app – NAV Drone

OTTAWA, ON, June 3, 2021 /CNW/ – Canada’s air navigation service provider, NAV CANADA, launched NAV Drone this week. Designed to help drone pilots and operators safely and legally fly their remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) in Canada, NAV Drone is now available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. A web version of NAV Drone is also available on NAV CANADA’s website.

From June to December 2020, NAV CANADA received nearly 16,000 RPAS flight authorization requests, a 54 percent increase over the same period in 2019, and this trend is expected to continue as a growing number of companies and individuals find new uses for drones in Canada.

As Canada’s air navigation service provider, NAV CANADA has an essential role to play in developing an operating environment that supports the innovative potential of the drone industry and ensures safety across Canadian airspace.

NAV Drone enables users to submit drone flight authorization requests from a mobile device and provides information to help users fly drones quickly, safely and legally in Canada’s controlled airspace.

The only app that can provide drone pilots and operators with permission to fly in NAV CANADA controlled airspace, NAV Drone has an intuitive user interface that allows users to:

  • gain awareness to better understand Canada’s airspace;
  • visualize where basic and advanced drone pilots can fly;
  • create an operation, update and manage drone flights; and
  • obtain automatic authorizations from NAV CANADA when approved to fly.

This system makes the process of requesting authorization to fly in controlled airspace easier and faster for qualified drone pilots and operators.

Quote

“NAV Drone is creating a safer Canadian airspace for all. The drone industry and demands on NAV CANADA’s services are evolving rapidly, so we are continuing to innovate to meet the needs of drone pilots and operators today and well into the future. The new app is a key component of our national drone strategy and will further our dedication to air traffic safety and technological innovation in Canadian airspace,” said Mark Cooper, Vice President, Chief Technology and Information Officer at NAV CANADA.

About NAV CANADA

NAV CANADA is a private, not-for-profit company, established in 1996, providing air traffic control, airport advisory services, weather briefings and aeronautical information services for more than 18 million square kilometres of Canadian domestic and international airspace.

The Company is internationally recognized for its safety record, and technology innovation. Air traffic management systems developed by NAV CANADA are used by air navigation service providers in countries worldwide.

NAV CANADA partners with NORAD for air defence training

26 May 2021 – NAV Canada

North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) routinely conducts exercises to ensure the defence of North American airspace.

Civilian and military agencies must work closely together when Canada must respond to potential air threats in times of duress. Military fighter jet pilots work with civilian air traffic controllers and air defence control units to undertake aircraft identification and interception in high-density airspace.

On May 26, 2021, NAV CANADA partnered with NORAD and other government agencies to conduct exercise AMALGAM HAWK 21, a military operation that tests air incident response protocols and inter-agency coordination between Canada and US organizations.

The annual NORAD exercise exemplifies a high degree of coordination involving:

  • Continental U.S. NORAD Region
  • Canadian NORAD Region
  • Canadian Air Defence Sector
  • Eastern Air Defense Sector
  • RCMP
  • Federal Aviation Administration
  • U.S. Transportation Security Administration
  • Transport Canada
  • NAV CANADA
  • Boston ARTCC
  • Montreal Airport Authority

“These international training exercises require a highly coordinated response and prepare everyone involved to be ready to respond in the event of aerospace threats to North America, “ said Erik Doucet, NAV CANADA’s Manager of Military and Regulatory Coordination.

NORAD is a bi-national organization responsible for ensuring air sovereignty and air defence of the airspace of Canada and the United States.

“NORAD is the force of last resort to protect the citizens of Canada and the United States from any threats in the air domain. We must ensure that North America is not an “easy target” for malign actors or actions. In order to test responses, systems and equipment, we routinely conduct carefully planned and executed exercises, such as Exercise AMALGAM HAWK, year-round in various weather conditions and with a variety of scenarios, including airspace restriction violations, hijackings and responding to unknown aircraft, in order to maintain NORAD’s rapid response capabilities, ” said Major-General Eric Kenny, Commander, Canadian NORAD Region.

While NORAD is responsible for the day to day security of North American airspace, US and Canadian law-enforcement agencies and civilian government agencies on both sides of the border play a critical role in maintaining the safety of our airspace.  

NAV CANADA reports April traffic figures

OTTAWA, ON, May 18, 2021 /CNW/ – NAV CANADA announced today its traffic figures for the month of April 2021, as measured in weighted charging units for enroute, terminal and oceanic air navigation services, in comparison to the last fiscal year and to its 2019 fiscal year. 

In April 2021 weighted charging units increased by an average of 67.5 percent compared to the same month in 2020. As compared to the same month in 2019, April 2021 weighted charging units decreased by an average of 57.7 percent.

Weighted charging units represent a traffic measure that reflects the number of billable flights, aircraft size and distance flown in Canadian airspace and is the basis for movement-based service charges, which comprise the vast majority of the Company’s air traffic revenue.

About NAV CANADA

NAV CANADA is a private, not-for-profit company, established in 1996, providing air traffic control, airport advisory services, weather briefings and aeronautical information services for more than 18 million square kilometres of Canadian domestic and international airspace.

The Company is internationally recognized for its safety record, and technology innovation. Air traffic management systems developed by NAV CANADA are used by air navigation service providers in countries worldwide.

Inaccurate Airborne Status Transmitted by Transponders and its Effect on Runway Monitoring and Conflict Alert Systems – Civil Aviation Safety Alert

Transport Canada

Purpose:

The purpose of this Civil Aviation Safety Alert (CASA) is to raise awareness to aircraft owners, operators and Air Navigation Services Providers (ANSP) on an issue related to operation of aircraft equipped with the Honeywell Primus Epic integrated avionics system transponders.

Background:

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) recently advised Transport Canada of an occurrence at Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International Airport (CYYZ) where immediately following a rejected takeoff, an Embraer 190 (E190) equipped with a Honeywell Primus Epic integrated avionics system transponder incorrectly transmitted that the aircraft was in airborne status but remained on the runway.

A second aircraft, a Boeing 777-300 (B777) readying for take-off had been issued a take-off clearance while the E190 remained on the runway. Although the E190 flight crew made a radio call to the tower that they were aborting the takeoff, at the same time the B777 read back its take-off clearance on the same control tower frequency and commenced its take-off roll. The simultaneous radio transmissions went undetected and neither air traffic control nor the B777 flight crew heard the abort radio call of the E190.

Immediately after beginning its take-off roll the B777 flight crew observed that the E190 was still on the runway and initiated a rejected takeoff. The B777 came to within 3800 feet from the E190.

In the initial assessment in its investigation (TSB investigation A20O0029) the TSB has found that the Honeywell Primus Epic integrated avionics system in the E190 uses software logic that determines the aircraft to be airborne when the aircraft’s indicated airspeed exceeds 50 knots. The result being that the aircraft transponder may transmit that the aircraft is airborne when the aircraft may still be on the ground.

Additionally, the runway incursion monitoring and conflict alert system (RIMCAS) used by the air navigation service provider (ANSP) at CYYZ was configured to use data from the aircraft’s transponder transmission as the primary indication that an aircraft had become airborne. Therefore when the E190 exceeded 50 knots on its departure roll, the RIMCAS identified the aircraft as airborne even though it was not. As a result of this system logic, the RIMCAS did not detect a conflict when the B777 began its take-off roll, and did not issue an alert until well after both aircraft had initiated their respective rejected-takeoff procedures and decelerated.

In December 2020, NAV CANADA published an Urgent ATC Information Bulletin for all Toronto Tower personnel. The bulletin cautioned controllers that RIMCAS Stage 1 and Stage 2 alerts may not be generated when Embraer E-jets and some aircraft manufactured by Dassault, Gulfstream, Learjet, and Textron Aviation (formerly Cessna) are departing. The bulletin also advised that Stage 1 and Stage 2 alerts may not be produced for aircraft or vehicles approaching the active runway when one of these aircraft types is departing, and controllers were reminded to monitor these situations closely. NAV CANADA is investigating options for RIMCAS software mitigations.

Transport Canada is in the process of communicating with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to address the current software logic to identify aircraft airborne status. Additionally, Transport Canada is in the process of communicating with applicable ANSP who have similar RIMCAS that could yield a comparable outcome with aircraft with similarly configured transponders.

Recommended action

  1. Air operators currently operating aircraft equipped with Honeywell Primus Epic integrated avionics system should provide the information found in this CASA to staff and/or flight crew as a means of awareness.

Nav Canada tower to remain open at West Kootenay Regional Airport

From Nelson Star – link to source story

The organization was considering closing the tower

Nav Canada will not be closing the tower at West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline

BETSY KLINE | Apr. 22, 2021

There is some good news for Castlegar’s Airport — Nav Canada will be keeping the navigation tower at the West Kootenay Regional Airport (WKRA) open.

In October 2020 Nav Canada launched an areonautical study at WKRA and 28 other airports across the country looking at reducing or eliminating services in response to the agency’s financial pressures.

On April 15 Nav Canada confirmed that there will be no site closures at air traffic control towers or flight service stations across the country. However, other alternatives to safely streamline operations including changes to hours of operation are still being considered.

Castlegar CAO Chris Barlow is happy to hear the news.

“Extensive feedback from our stakeholders re-enforced that the flight services station is important to the safety of air carriers, medevac, forestry, charter and general aviation pilots,” he said.

“We understand that future service levels are still under review. The city will continue to highlight the unique location and nature of the West Kootenay Regional Airport and re-state that reductions in hours or service of the Nav Canada tower operations could impact safety and reliability for the region.”

Nav Canada is a private, non-profit corporation. At the Castlegar Flight Service Station, they provide airport advisory service, ground vehicle control service and a surface weather observation program 12 hours per day when standard time is in effect (fall/winter) and 16 hours per day when daylight saving time is in effect (spring/summer). At other times they also provide an aerodrome traffic frequency and a limited weather information system (LWIS). The LWIS provides wind, temperature, dew point and altimeter, but is not capable of providing ceiling and visibility.

Statement – Minister of Transport applauds NAV CANADA’s decision to continue all air navigation services to Canadian communities

Transport Canada

OTTAWA, ON, April 15, 2021 /CNW/ – The Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport, issued this statement today to acknowledge NAV CANADA’s decision to maintain air traffic control service to several Canadian communities, including Whitehorse, Yukon, Prince George, British Columbia, Fort McMurray, Alberta, Regina, Saskatchewan, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Windsor, Ontario and Saint Jean, Quebec:

“As Canada’s Minister of Transport, I am pleased to see that NAV CANADA has committed to no closures at air traffic control towers or flight service stations, as well as at northern and remote locations, across the country.

“I also welcome NAV CANADA’s commitment to maintaining a continuous dialogue with their employees, stakeholders and communities as Canada’s air transport sector responds to the ongoing pandemic. Maintaining appropriate service in our local communities will allow NAV CANADA to continue to provide air navigation services required to support industry today and throughout the recovery.

“The Government of Canada will continue to work with partners to respond to these challenging times, and we will build back better. As always, we will work together to ensure the safety of Canadians and the travelling public.”

Transport Canada is online at www.tc.gc.ca.

SOURCE Transport Canada