Air travel is about to go through its biggest transformation since 9/11 — and passengers will pay for it

News from the Vancouver Sun – link to story and videos

Gabriel Friedman | Publishing date:Jun 26, 2020 

All airlines have implemented temperature checks, health screening questions and enhanced cleaning. Seat distancing, or leaving the middle seat unoccupied on larger planes, and only booking every other seat on smaller planes, has also become de rigeur. REUTERS/FRANCOIS LENOIR

Nearly two decades after the 9/11 terrorist attacks transformed airports, leading to security barriers where none had existed before, the coronavirus pandemic is once again upending air travel.

This time around, the focus is on health measures, and the use of technology that in theory could make the experience “touchless” and more automated, but could also lead to higher ticket prices.

Air travel is about to go through its biggest transformation since 9/11 — and passengers will pay for it

“We need faster, cleaner, better ways to get through the airport,” Robyn McVicker, vice president of operations and maintenance at Vancouver Airport Authority told the Financial Post. “It’s something that we believe is the future.”

Already, Vancouver airport and others are doubling down on touchless technology that allows passengers to print a baggage ticket and drop their bags off at a self-serve kiosk that eliminates the need to touch or interact with anyone at the airport.

She said her team is already working on a project called “Phoenix” that reimagines “every single process in the airport” using technology, whether that means waiting in line, waiting at the gate and even the need for paper tickets. In the future, McVicker thinks airports will begin using biometric facial scans, so that passengers can glide through the airport in less time, with less waiting.

“The industry has never been more aligned on how do we make things better than it is today,” said McVicker.

There is much at stake in figuring out how to bring air travel back. Airports across the country are already facing sharp declines in revenue. Even with widespread layoffs, some airports are looking to raise money by increasing the fees that passengers pay, or borrowing, just to support the costs of their overhead.

An empty check-in counter at Toronto’s Pearson Airport. REUTERS/CARLOS OSORIO

Nathan Janzen, a senior economist with the Royal Bank of Canada, said that aspects of the economy “that require people to congregate” will be the slowest to recover.

But he said airports form a crucial backbone to the economy, allowing people to travel to a region, facilitating investment in businesses and allowing a freer flow of goods.

“Those are the kinds of things that can be a structural impediment to a longer term to medium term recovery, if you don’t figure out a way to make them work,” Janzen said.

The drop in air travel has been dramatic. One day in mid-June, about 5,000 people arrived or departed on a flight out of the Vancouver International Airport — about 97 per cent less than the 75,000 people that would normally service the airport.

Across the country, other airports, big and small, are experiencing similar situations. In Calgary, for example, about 1,000 passengers were travelling on a day when normally there would be 24,500 passengers.

Toronto’s Pearson Airport reported a 97 per cent drop in passenger traffic in April.

At Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport, around 350 people travelled through compared to nearly 13,000 on average at this time in prior years.

“But that’s really good news,” said Barry Rempel, president and chief executive of Winnipeg Airports Authority, “because we had days, for example, the 6th of May, we had fewer than a hundred people boarding.”

Rempel is hopeful that as federal and provincial authorities relax social distancing guidelines, air travel will slowly pick up again, but he knows that regional airports such as the one in Winnipeg will likely trail airports that have a more international flight list.

In any case, no one is under any illusion that air travel will snap back to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon.

In March, the country’s airlines gradually suspended most or in some cases all of their flights as federal and provincial health authorities issued new rules to contain the spread of COVID-19, in a move that corresponded with tens of thousands of layoffs.

Toronto-based Porter Airlines stopped flying altogether and still has no plans to resume flights until July 29 at the earliest.

Montreal-based Air Transat has said it plans to resume flying on July 23 after a four-month hiatus.

Calgary-based Westjet has said it is only flying five per cent of its schedule, and is not releasing a schedule beyond Aug. 5.

Montreal-based Air Canada has reduced its flight schedule by 85 to 90 per cent. A The company says it’s hopeful that it will see a recovery, which would mean that its flight schedule would only be reduced by 75 per cent.

All airlines have implemented temperature checks, health screening questions and enhanced cleaning. Seat distancing, or leaving the middle seat unoccupied on larger planes, and only booking every other seat on smaller planes, has also become de rigeur.

Transport Canada also requires all passengers at least two years old to bring their own face mask and wear it throughout the duration of the flight.

Despite these measures, people aren’t travelling.

“The airport’s not a comfortable place these days,” said Rempel. “It’s a welcoming building, but it’s empty.”

Alberta Health Services staff meet airline passengers entering the International arrivals area at the Calgary International Airport where they are directed to a new COVID-19 screening area. JIM WELLS/POSTMEDIA

To coax people back into airports, he said staff are taking extra precautions — hand sanitizer stations have been added throughout the building and the staff to passenger ratio is high enough that every single screen can be immediately cleaned after it’s used.

They have even installed a new technology that cleans the escalator handrail on a constant basis.

“Think of it as a bath that the handrail goes through every time it makes a circuit,” said Rempel. “That’s the kind of thing we’re doing.”

Still, Rempel said his revenues are currently about three per cent of normal. While the Winnipeg Airport Authority slashed capital spending plans from $175 million to $7 million, Rempel has also applied to raise the airportimprovement fee’ that every passenger pays as part of their ticket fare, from $25 to $38.

“If traffic comes back next year — it won’t, I believe — then we’ll be reducing that,” he said, adding that otherwise the increase should help sustain the airport through  2024 or 2025, by which time he expects air travel to resume to normal levels.

While the federal government has waived the lease payments that airports pay until December — which typically amount to between 11-12 per cent of total revenues,  according to several airport executives interviewed for this article — Rempel said it will not be enough to save his airport.

Reid Fiest, a spokesman for Calgary Airports Authority, said his company is hoping the federal waiver is extended for four or five years so airports can manage their debt.

“We’re doing a lot to try and make people feel comfortable and that it’s safe to travel,” said Fiest, adding he expects it could take three to five years, “but there is still a lot of uncertainty.”

The simple reality is no one knows when air travel will return.

“It’s the billion-dollar question,” said McVicker. “The reality is forecasting is a voodoo science right now.”

Air Canada, WestJet to drop on-board physical distancing policies

From City News 1130 – link to story

BY CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | Posted Jun 26, 2020

FILE – An Air Canada flight departing for Kelowna takes off at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl DyckSUMMARY

  • Air Canada, WestJet have blocked the sale of adjacent seats in economy class to help stop spread of COVID-19
  • Transport Canada listed physical distancing among the ‘key points’ in preventing the spread of the virus as part of a
  • Canadians are beginning to brave air travel again as confinement measures lift

MONTREAL — The country’s two largest airlines are ending their on-board seat distancing policies starting on Canada Day, raising health concerns amid a pandemic that has devastated the travel industry.

Air Canada has blocked the sale of adjacent seats in economy class, and WestJet has done the same throughout the entire plane, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The carriers said Friday they will revert to health recommendations from the United Nation’s aviation agency and the International International Air Transport Association (IATA) trade group.

American Airlines also announced Friday that it will start booking flights to full capacity starting next Wednesday.

IATA called last month for an end to in-flight physical distancing rules, proposing a range of measures including some that run counter to federal government policies.

Transport Canada listed physical distancing among the “key points” in preventing the spread of the virus as part of a guide issued to the aviation industry in April.

“Operators should develop guidance for spacing passengers aboard aircraft when possible to optimize social distancing,” the document states.

‘Highlighted risks’

Some health experts have highlighted the risks of spreading COVID in crowded airports and packed cabins.

“Once it’s in the cabin, it’s difficult to stop air moving around,” said Tim Sly, an epidemiologist and professor emeritus at Ryerson University’s School of Public Health.

However Joseph Allen, director of the Harvard public health school’s Healthy Buildings program, said the HEPA air filters used on most planes effectively control airborne bacteria and viruses.

In line with federal directives, Air Canada and WestJet conduct pre-boarding temperature checks and require masks on board. They have also implemented enhanced aircraft cleaning and scaled back their in-flight service in late March, cutting out hot drinks, hot meals, and fresh food.

“The new measures will continue to build on the recommendations of ICAO [the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization] and others that a multi-layered strategy to COVID-19 safety is most effective,” Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said in an email.

‘Normal online booking’

WestJet said its online booking will return to normal on Wednesday.

“Moving forward, our cabin crew are able to assist should there be space to accommodate and we encourage guests to discuss seating arrangements with them once onboard,” said spokeswoman Morgan Bell.

Canadians are beginning to brave air travel again as confinement measures lift, though Manitoba and the Maritimes still have strong restrictions on interprovincial travel in place while other provinces discourage it.

Swoop, a budget airline owned by WestJet, added eight weekly flights in June with 12 more coming in July after the carrier cut capacity to a single line of flight per day _ Halifax-Hamilton-Edmonton-Abbotsford and back.

“We’re in this minus 95 per cent mode right now,” Swoop president Charles Duncan said in an interview. “It doesn’t get much worse than this.”

Hope is on the horizon, however.

“At the height of it, it was common to have under 20 people on a plane. But from Vancouver just now I brought in 65. Earlier in the day from Edmonton to Vancouver we had over 100,” said WestJet flight attendant Chris Rauenbusch, president of CUPE Local 4070.

Feds investigated some coronavirus dangers on airplanes without speaking to airline workers: union

News from Global News – link to story and video

BY MIKE DE SOUZA GLOBAL NEWS ~ Posted June 22, 2020

A flight attendant wears personal protective equipment as they walk through the back part of a near empty plane travelling from Calgary to Vancouver, Tuesday, June 9, 2020.
 A flight attendant wears personal protective equipment as they walk through the back part of a near empty plane travelling from Calgary to Vancouver, Tuesday, June 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The message at the end of an email from a senior Canadian government official was blunt.

It came in response to an airline industry worker who had repeatedly asked for more information about the coronavirus-related dangers tied to their job.

According to their union, the worker had previously refused to work on March 21 over fears of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, but officials from two federal departments, Transport Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), concluded on March 29 — with most of the country in lockdown over the pandemic — that this employee was not in danger.

Two weeks later, the chief of national flight operations at Transport Canada, Pierre Clément, told the worker in the email that the government hadn’t finished investigating the complaint. Clément also suggested the employee should stop asking the government about the matter.

“I would kindly ask you to cease and desist from communicating with my staff… regarding this as the investigation is underway,” Clément told the worker in an April 14 email reviewed by Global News. “Please consult your union if you need further (information).”

The email was released by the worker’s union, which withheld the employee’s name in order to protect their privacy.

The case is one of at least 47 work refusals involving Canadians who fall under federal labour legislation and have refused to work due to COVID-19 concerns, according to statistics released to Global News by the ESDC.

About one million workers across Canada fall under the Canada Labour Code (CLC), including workers in the airline industry and other transportation-related jobs as well as those in pipelines, telecommunications and banking.

But federal officials confirmed that they found dangerous situations in only three out of the 47 work refusal cases. Officials also concluded there was no danger in 41 cases, and they deemed two other cases to be inadmissible. For the remaining case, officials deemed that the work refusal related to the normal conditions of the person’s employment.

The three cases deemed to be dangerous involved flight attendants on commercial planes, where it is difficult to maintain distance from other workers or passengers on board.

Along with thousands of other coronavirus-related workplace complaints and investigations under provincial legislation, the federal cases highlight some of the challenges regulators face in their efforts to protect workers and other members of the public from the spread of COVID-19. Many stakeholders note that the regulators must apply the health and safety provisions of labour laws that were never designed for a pandemic in which people are required to stay at least two metres apart.

“I think what the pandemic has exposed is how absolutely weak and pathetic the labour laws are,” said Deena Ladd, executive director of Workers’ Action Centre, a non-profit Toronto-based organization that provides support and advice to people about their rights in the workplace.

The situation has also created challenges for workers, including the airline employee on the receiving end of Clément’s “cease and desist” email. The employee wanted to review the inspector’s findings and appeal the government’s decision, but according to their union, they were not initially given access to the investigation report.

Under the CLC, workers have 10 days to appeal a ruling about a work refusal after they are notified of the government’s decision.

But Clément said in his mid-April email, more than two weeks after federal officials gave their notice that the employee wasn’t in danger, that they were still writing a series of reports about work refusals, including the one requested by the employee. Clément added that these reports would need to be “vetted” over the coming days.

“Since mid-March, my team, working with ESDC Labour Program, have been dealing with multiple work refusals,” Clément wrote in the email. “The impetus is on investigating each to determine whether the employee is in danger as defined by Part II of the CLC. That is our priority during this rather unprecedented time in aviation history.”

The worker in question eventually got the investigation report on April 17, according to their union, and has filed their appeal.

Clément did not respond to questions from Global News about why he asked the worker to “cease and desist” and why reports were still being vetted after investigators had ruled on whether there was danger in the workplace. But Transport Canada said in a statement that it takes “the safety and security of Canadians very seriously.”

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents more than 10,000 flight attendants across Canada, says it isn’t convinced that the department is prioritizing health and safety.

Prior to the pandemic, the union had battled with airlines and the regulator over efforts to change regulations setting the minimum ratio of flight attendants needed to ensure the safety of all passengers aboard flights.

After COVID-19 cases started to spread in Canada, Troy Winters, a senior health and safety officer at the union, said there were at least 10 cases in which an investigator determined there was no danger in the workplace without interviewing the employee who had exercised their right to refuse work due to health and safety concerns.

Transport Canada, which investigated at least 21 work refusal cases, explained it could not respond to detailed questions about its investigations since some files remain active and under appeal.

“As such, there are constraints on what the department is legally allowed to say publicly during the refusal to work process,” department spokesman Alexandre Desjardins said in an email to Global News. “That position is to ensure that the process is completed in a way that enables a fair outcome for all parties.”

Transport Canada also referred general questions about its workplace investigations to ESDC. That department said on June 16 that it would need a few days to provide responses.

Stakeholders, such as Ladd from the Workers’ Action Centre and Linda Vannucci, a lawyer and co-director of the Toronto-based Workers’ Health and Safety Legal Clinic, said they were disappointed to hear the union’s allegations about inspections that had failed to involve interviews with the workers.

“That’s really quite shocking,” said Vannucci.

Wayne Lewchuk, an emeritus faculty professor of labour studies at McMaster University, said that government regulators are likely struggling to balance the protection of worker health and safety with pressure to prevent the entire economy from shutting down.

“Obviously, hearing the voice of the person who makes the complaint is pretty critical, but it doesn’t always happen. That’s the reality,” Lewchuk said in an interview. “There’s only so many inspectors to go around, and the employers are not happy when production gets interrupted for any reason because of a work refusal so they’re keen to get this resolved quickly.”

For many workers, the right to refuse work is a last resort after other complaints or attempts to improve health and safety in the workplace have failed.

Winters from CUPE said the regulator has the power to change company behaviour by confirming when it observes dangerous conditions and taking action.

He believes this is what happened in the case of Air Canada, which was subject to a March 20 safety order in Montreal over three work refusal investigations that confirmed flight attendants were in danger.

The investigation order, reviewed by Global News, concluded that “requiring flight attendants to come frequently into close proximity with passengers during the COVID-19 outbreak, in order to provide regular service, with no possibility of social distancing presents a serious threat to their health.” The government also ordered the airline “to alter the activity that constitutes the danger immediately.”

Around that time, Winters said Air Canada started offering N95 masks to its employees and increased its efforts to consult with the union about safety measures.

COVID-19 concerns in the Air Canada airplane seating

CUPE estimates that more than 60 of its members were infected with the coronavirus in the early weeks of the pandemic but that infection rates dropped as airlines started to distribute more protective gear and as air traffic started to decrease.

Since March, more than 400 flights, operated by multiple airlines, have taken off or landed in Canada with at least one person who had COVID-19, according to government data compiled by the union.

This includes dozens of flights since the beginning of May as well as a few flights in June with at least one passenger infected with the virus.

Air Canada told Global News in a statement that it was already starting to exceed the requirements of the March 20 safety order before the government confirmed the danger. The airline also said it has implemented a multi-layered approach to protect both passengers and employees through screening and protective gear.

“As the understanding of the risks and effective precautions against COVID-19 increased, Air Canada provided PPE (personal protective equipment) to its employees, including masks, gloves, goggles and gowns,” said Air Canada spokeswoman Pascale Déry. “We were also one of the first airlines in the world to make face coverings mandatory for both flight attendants and customers.”

The airline’s approach also combines screening measures and protective gear, along with other changes to limit contact on board, rigorous cleaning and disinfection as well as contact tracing, she said.

“We also continue to explore additional measures as these processes and technologies become available,” she added.

— With files from Andrew Russell

Temperature screening to be required for travellers at Canadian airports

From Transport Canada 

OTTAWA, ON, June 12, 2020 /CNW/ – The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented global crisis that is having a significant impact on all aspects of the Canadian transportation industry, travellers, and the economy. The Government of Canada is committed to implementing a multi-layered framework of measures to protect Canadians, and help prevent air travel from being a source for the spread of the virus.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, announced an additional measure to this framework. The Government of Canada will now require temperature screenings for all passengers travelling to Canada or travellers departing Canadian airports for either international or domestic destinations.  

For international flights to Canada, air operators must conduct temperature screenings at the point of departure, unless the local authority has an equivalent measure in place, in addition to the existing required health check questions for symptoms prior to boarding.

Within Canada, Canadian Air Transport Security Authority screeners will conduct the temperature screening of passengers as part of departure screening procedures. This is in addition to the health screening questions and the wearing of face coverings that are already required for all passengers.

The Government of Canada is taking a phased approach to implementing temperature screening.

  • Phase 1: By June 30, 2020, all air operators will be required to conduct temperature screenings of all passengers travelling to Canada prior to departure from international or transborder points of departure.
  • Phase 2: By the end of July, temperature screening stations will be placed in the departure section of the four major airports that are currently identified as the only Canadian airports for international travel (Montréal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver).
  • Phase 3: By September 2020, temperature screening stations will be in place in the departure sections of the next 11 busiest airports in Canada (St. John’s, Halifax, Québec City, Ottawa, Toronto – Billy Bishop, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Kelowna, Victoria).

In addition, all employees and personnel that enter or work in the restricted area of the airport will be subject to temperature screening procedures by Canadian Air Transport Security Authority personnel.

All passengers who have an elevated temperature and do not have a medical certificate to explain a medical or physical condition that would result in an elevated temperature, will not be permitted to continue their travel and will be asked to re-book after 14 days.

Quote

“As Minister of Transport, my highest priority is the safety and security of Canadians and the transportation system. We have already introduced measures to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19, including mandating face coverings, and publishing health guidance for the air industry. Mandatory temperature screenings are yet another measure in our multi-layered approach to help protect the safety of the travelling public and air industry workers.”

Minister of Transport
The Honourable Marc Garneau

Quick Facts

  • Airport temperature screening has been endorsed by the International Air Transport Association and the International Civil Aviation Organization. Canadian implementation is necessary to help align with measures taken by an increasing number of international partners and will help build confidence and trust in the global aviation system.
  • In response to COVID-19, countries like Italy, Poland, Chile, Mexico, and South Korea have implemented required temperature screening protocols for travellers at certain airports. Other countries like Belgium, France and Spain are recommending temperature screening.
  • In Canada, a number of airline operators including as Air Canada, Westjet, Perimeter, Bearskin, Keewatin and CalmAir have independently elected to pilot the implementation of passenger temperature screening. The United States have also pilot tested temperature screening.
  • The federal government will monitor and evaluate the continued need for expansion of this measure.

SOURCE Transport Canada

Minister Garneau announces new measures for the use of face coverings in the Canadian transportation sector

From Transport Canada

OTTAWA, June 3, 2020 /CNW/ – To reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, Transport Canada and the transportation industry have implemented a layered system of measures, such as increased sanitization, health checks for passengers, and allowing passengers to remain in their vehicles on ferries. However, there are still points in the transportation system where workers must be in close proximity to co-workers and travellers.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, announced he is expanding the requirements for the use of face coverings by workers and others involved in the transportation system, to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

This approach for workers complements recent regulations and guidelines for passengers to use face coverings in certain circumstances when travelling by air, marine and rail to reduce the risk of the virus transmission. It also puts in place a more a comprehensive approach for face coverings that strengthens the protection of everyone involved in the transportation system.

The measures will be implemented through a combination of mandatory orders and guidance:

Aviation

  • Expand the existing face covering / non-medical mask requirements beyond passengers to include some flight crew and airport workers.
  • These measures come into effect at noon EDT on June 4, 2020.

Marine

  • Issue guidance recommending that all workers in the marine transportation sector have in their possession a face covering, and recommend that face coverings be worn using a risk-based approach specific to the unique circumstances of the workplace, when physical distancing cannot be maintained, and/or when local authorities require it.

Rail

  • Issue guidance requiring rail operators to notify passengers that they will be asked to wear a face covering when physical distancing of two metres from others cannot be maintained, or as requested by rail operators.
  • Provide or make accessible a face covering to all workers in the rail industry.
  • Ensure a face covering be worn by workers on a risk-based approach specific to the unique circumstances of the workplace, when physical distancing cannot be maintained, and/or when local authorities require it.

Road

  • Establish a set of practices for the use of personal protective equipment, including face coverings in road transportation (i.e., trucking, motor coach, transit), in collaboration with provinces, territories and industry.

Existing public health and good hygiene practices including physical distancing and frequent hand washing, are still the most effective methods to limit the spread of the virus.

Where physical distancing of two metres from others cannot be maintained, the use of face coverings can play a key role in limiting transmission of the virus. These measures will better protect everyone involved in the transportation system: passengers, support workers, customers, and essential transportation workers, who ensure the system continues to function.

Quote

“My top concern continues to be the wellbeing of the transportation workers and the travelling public. The measures we are putting in place today will further reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 for transportation workers and passengers. The use of face coverings can limit the transmission of the virus where physical distancing cannot be maintained. Transport Canada will continue to ensure various transportation systems adapt to the most effective, preventive measures to protect Canadians.”

Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau

TSB calls on Transport Canada to simplify approach and landing weather minima and to prevent approaches in very low visibility

From Transportation Safety Board of Canada 

DORVAL, QC, May 21, 2020 /CNW/ – Today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released its investigation report (A18Q0030) into a runway overrun that occurred in Havre-Saint-Pierre, Quebec, in February 2018. Among the issues identified, the investigation found that the rules that govern instrument approaches in Canada are too complex, confusing and ineffective at preventing pilots from conducting approaches that are not allowed, or banned, because they are below the minimum weather limits.

On 26 February 2018, a Beechcraft King Air A100 operated by Strait Air (2000) Ltd. was conducting charter flight NUK107 under instrument flight rules, from the Sept-Îles Airport, Quebec, to the Havre St-Pierre Airport, Quebec, with two crew members and six passengers on board. Prior to departure, the weather at Havre St-Pierre aerodrome indicated a visibility of ¾ of a statute mile in light snow. Although below the one mile of visibility published on the approach chart, visibility was at the minimum limit permitted for this flight. Enroute, the crew received the updated weather, which indicated that the visibility had deteriorated to just ¼ mile in heavy snow—well below the minimum visibility allowed to conduct the approach. However, the pilot believed he could continue the approach safely. When the pilot saw a small patch of runway, he continued the landing, touching down just 700 feet before the end of the runway. Without enough runway to slow down, the aircraft overran the end and came to a stop in a large snowbank approximately 220 feet beyond the end of the runway. The aircraft sustained substantial damage, and four of the occupants received minor injuries.

Elsewhere in the world, aerodromes use the published visibility as the minimum limit, to determine if an approach is authorized. If the reported visibility is lower than what is published, air traffic control (ATC) will not let an aircraft carry out the approach. In Canada, flight crews are permitted to conduct approaches in visibility conditions that are below what is published. Transport Canada (TC) regulations applicable to approach limits are complex and contain many exceptions that can be misinterpreted. Flight crews have to consult multiple reference documents and consider a variety of factors to determine if an approach is allowed. The current rules also make it difficult for ATC to determine whether an approach is authorized. As a result, ATC will clear an aircraft for an approach regardless of the published minima, leaving the ultimate decision to conduct the approach to the flight crew.

This investigation found that, based on the pilot’s interpretation of the various factors and exceptions relating to the approach ban, he incorrectly believed that he was allowed to conduct the approach. As well, the approach ban did not prevent the pilot from conducting the approach in weather conditions that were below the minimum limits.

Today the Board is making two recommendations to address these issues:

First, that TC review and simplify operating minima for approaches and landings at Canadian aerodromes.

Second, that TC introduce a mechanism to stop approaches and landings that are actually banned.

Finally, the investigation found issues with a number of the company’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) including the pre-flight inspection and planning for the approach. In this occurrence, a deviation from SOPs at a critical moment of the flight was a key factor that contributed to the runway overrun. Therefore, the Board is concerned that, if TC does not provide the necessary oversight of flight operations by assessing the effectiveness of crew resource management, threat-and-error management, decision-making, and SOPs, these procedures may not be effective, increasing the risk of an accident, particularly an approach-and-landing accident.

Runway overruns is a key safety issue on the 2018 Watchlist, and has been on the TSB Watchlist since 2010.

Plane crashes north of Fort Frances, Ont; pilot and passenger survive

News from CBC News – link to story

The aircraft attempted to land at a unnamed lake, but bounced on the water’s surface, flipping the plane

CBC News · Posted: May 15, 2020

A Found Brothers FBA-2C1 aircraft, similar to the one pictured above, crashed into a unnamed lake about 75 km north of Fort Frances, Ont., on May 7. Both the pilot and passenger are uninjured. (BushHawkLover/RegoSearch.com)

A pilot and their passenger are safe after a plane crash abut 75 kilometres north of Fort Frances, Ont.

In a preliminary report from Transport Canada, the plane took off from the Fort Frances Municipal Airport on May 7, heading to an unnamed lake.

The plane was a Found Brothers FBA-2C1 amphibious aircraft, meaning it had the capability to land on water or on a runway.

The aircraft attempted to land at the lake, but bounced twice on the water’s surface, and on the second bounce, flipped over.

The pilot and passenger were able to get out of the aircraft, and clung to the plane’s floats, while it drifted to shore.

The pair walked to a nearby cabin, and were able to call for help.

The preliminary report said the landing gear on the plane was retracted, but that winds were strong and gusty, along with choppy water and large waves.

Federal government says Winnipeg Airports Authority can’t speak on its behalf

From CBC News – link to story

Statement from Transport Canada casts doubt on WAA’s ability to force Polo Park dispute to municipal board

CBC News · Posted: May 08, 2020 8:24 PM CT | Last Updated: May 8

Transport Canada says the Winnipeg Airports Authority ‘is not an agent of the Crown.’ (John Einarson/CBC)

Transport Canada says the Winnipeg Airports Authority “cannot speak on the government of Canada’s behalf” in a dispute between the airport and developers who want to build residential housing at Polo Park mall.

That appears to be a contradiction from assertions the airports authority made to Winnipeg’s city council earlier this week.

The controversy is centred on changing a planning framework known as the Airport Vicinity Protection Area, which restricts residential development around the James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.

It pits the potential of hundreds of millions of dollars in development versus the 24-hour-a-day takeoff and landing status at the airport and its valuable cargo business.

Cadillac Fairview, the owner of CF Polo Park, and Winnipeg’s Shindico Realty and Towers Realty Group, want to build apartment buildings around the mall.

On Tuesday, the WAA sent a letter to council asking for the matter to be referred to the provincial municipal board, invoking the name of the government of Canada in the request.

“In the name of the government of Canada, WAA objects to the proposed Bylaw No. 48/2019 to amend the Airport Vicinity Protection Area Secondary Plan Bylaw No. 6378/94 to redesignate from Area I to Area II the lands bounded by St. Matthews Avenue, Empress Street, Portage Avenue and St. James Street,” the WAA wrote in its letter.

Under the Winnipeg charter, such a referral can only be made by a municipality, the board of a planning district adjacent to the area, or the governments of Canada or Manitoba.

The move by the WAA prompted council to delay any decision on the matter for a month, as the city’s legal department asked for time to figure out if the federal government had actually given legal authority to the Winnipeg Airports Authority to make an objection to the proposed bylaw.

Developers call WAA’s efforts ‘delay tactics’ with no authority from the federal government. (John Einarson/CBC )

A statement to CBC News from Transport Canada says the “the government of Canada has not taken a position on the matter currently being disputed between the Winnipeg Airports Authority and the City of Winnipeg. The Winnipeg Airports Authority is not an agent of the Crown and, therefore, cannot speak on the government of Canada’s behalf concerning the City of Winnipeg’s proposed bylaw.”

A spokesperson for the WAA says it wasn’t “speaking” for the federal government, just making the request “in the name” of the government of Canada.

“WAA is not suggesting we are an agent of the Crown or that we speak on behalf of the government of Canada. As such, there is nothing of surprise in the letter from the government of Canada,” said the statement from the airports authority.

The WAA operates under a long-term ground lease with Transport Canada for the land at the airport.

The general counsel for Shindico Reality says the WAA’s moves are an attempt to stall the development without a legal basis to do it.

“We’re disappointed the airport chose to delay this process without having the authority to do so, and we look forward to this matter proceeding to council at the next meeting,” said Justin Zarnowski.

A spokesperson for mayor Brian Bowman said “our office will wait for an update from the public service before providing comment.”

Masks, screening, vaccines: Airlines consider what a new normal might look like before people pack onto planes again

News from Calgary Herald -link to story

Emily Jackson  •  28 April 2020

A passenger wheels her luggage near an Air Canada logo at Toronto Pearson International Airport on April 1, 2020 in Toronto. COLE BURSTON/GETTY IMAGES FILES

As airlines around the world grapple with the financial fallout from grounding the vast majority of their fleets, pilots and cabin crews during the coronavirus pandemic, preliminary conversations are being held about what needs to happen before people start packing into airports and planes again.

Health and safety is top of mind for flight attendants as airlines start to discuss what the new normal might look like when full schedules are reintroduced, whenever that might be, said Wesley Lesosky, president of the Air Canada Component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“The discussion has to happen on what’s the standard going forward,” Lesosky said in an interview. “The practicality on a plane is you can’t have social distancing to the extent you’d want it — you can’t have that two-metre distance.”

As it stands, the 2,000 active members still flying for Canada’s largest airline and Air Canada Rouge — thousands more were placed on off-duty status as there’s no flights for them to serve — wear gloves, masks, glasses and gowns on flights loaded with hand sanitizer where food and bar service has been cut to a snack box and a bottle of water upon entering the plane.

CUPE is content with the equipment provided so far, although it continues to push for enhancements such as face shields, Lesosky said. But before normal operations resume, questions need to be answered about what gear will be provided and adopted on a longer-term basis.

Flight attendants and pilots unions alike praised Transport Canada for requiring all passengers to wear masks on board planes.

But attempts at social distancing on board a plane where customers are used to sitting inches apart poses a different challenge.

Some airlines including WestJet Airlines Ltd. have temporarily stopped booking middle seats to give passengers more room aboard flights, but airlines including Ireland’s budget carrier Ryranair DAC argue that selling only two thirds of seats isn’t a viable option if they want to make enough money to stay in business. Not to mention, passengers are still well within two metres of the passengers in front and behind them even if middle seats are empty.

Still, the Air Line Pilots Association Canada, which represents WestJet and WestJet Encore pilots, is calling on Transport Canada and the federal government for greater mandated protection for aircrews now and during the recovery.

“With no mandatory requirements in place to protect aircrews, they are putting themselves and their loved ones at risk every time they report for duty,” ALPA Canada president Capt. Tim Perry said in a statement last week.

An Air Canada Jazz pilot is seen leaving Toronto Pearson International Airport. COLE BURSTON/GETTY IMAGES FILES

The ALPA has called on the government to allow air crews to move through restricted airport areas and through customs separately from customers to minimize their exposure. It has also asked for better passenger screening prior to boarding and expedited testing for aircrews.

Other go-forward requirements are more intangible, such as a public that trusts it’s safe to get on a plane.

“One of the biggest concerns that we all have, not just airports, is consumer confidence,” said Canadian Airports Council president Daniel Gooch, whose organization represents Canada’s largest airports and many of its regional ones. “Public trust is one big factor.”

Airports are also brainstorming what changes need to be made before normal operations resume, whether that involves vaccines, social distancing or passenger screening. But it’s too soon to say what needs to happen as focus remains on the immediate losses to the sector, which might take longer to recover than other industries due to international travel restrictions, Gooch said.

Airports collectively expect to take a $1.8 to $2.2-billion hit this year as revenue dries up with passenger volumes that are expected to drop to 45 per cent of 2019 levels, Gooch said.

Separately, the National Airlines Council of Canada said Tuesday its members have seen a 90 per cent drop in capacity, as revenue has fallen and bookings for the rest of the year remain subdued given uncertainty surrounding travel restrictions.

Air Transat aircraft sit on the tarmac at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
Air Transat aircraft sit on the tarmac at Toronto Pearson International Airport. COLE BURSTON/BLOOMBERG FILES

“The disruptions could also put at risk about 245,500 jobs in Canada and US$18.3 billion in GDP supported by the air transport industry and foreign tourists travelling to Canada by air,” the NACC said in a statement, noting that a number of projects and work with suppliers across its supply chain have been halted due to the pandemic.

“The economic impact of the pandemic is expected to continue materially for the remainder of the year and into 2021,” the NACC said.

Mike McNaney, CEO of the NACC, which represents Air Canada, Air Transat, Jazz Aviation LP and WestJet, said it wants Ottawa to introduce liquidity measures for the industry quickly, similar to efforts seen in the United States, Europe and Asia to support the aviation sector.

Ottawa has said in recent weeks that it’s working with airlines and planning ways to provide some form of relief for the beleaguered industry. Air Canada and other airlines have also adopted the government’s wage subsidy program to cut costs.

“Time is of the essence as the economic situation facing Canada’s airlines is deteriorating rapidly,” NACC said in a statement. “The greater the economic damage to the industry, the less competitive and poised for recovery it will be as other countries provide significant direct financial aid to their own carriers.”

Financial Post

Air Canada Customers Required to Have Protective Face Coverings as Additional Safeguard

From Air Canada

Air Canada’s recommended face-covering practice becomes mandatory with Transport Canada Directive where social distancing is not possible

MONTREAL, April 17, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ – Following Transport Canada’s directive today, Air Canada is making its recommended face-covering practice mandatory as an additional safeguard for its customers and crew. This requirement will apply to customers at various points in Canadian airports, during the boarding process and during flight as may be directed by Air Canada staff where social distancing is not possible.

The requirement, effective April 20, follows a Directive issued today by the Minister of Transport of Canada requiring travellers to wear protective face-coverings at various stages of their air travel journey. Pursuant to the Ministerial Directive travellers will be required to show that they have a suitable face covering prior to boarding Air Canada flights. Travellers who do not have their own face-covering will be provided with a suitable mask at security by CATSA.

Since early April, Air Canada has been strongly recommending that all customers wear a face-covering over their mouth and noses while onboard its flights following revised recommendations by the Public Health Agency of Canada. With today’s Ministerial Directive, customers on all itineraries must wear such protection at check-in, at time of boarding, and upon entering the aircraft where social distancing is not possible. Customers will be asked to lower their masks to facilitate full ID checks as required by Canadian regulations at check-in. While on board, customers will be required to wear their face coverings, in accordance with the Ministerial Directive and in accordance with the directions from the cabin crew. 

Customers may bring their own face covering which may include a cloth mask, scarf or similar item. See PHAC website (https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health.html) for examples of recommended non-medical coverings. Critical medical-grade masks will continue to be strictly reserved for frontline workers.

Air Canada has also implemented social (physical) distancing where possible during boarding and where feasible, on-board its aircraft, with as few people sitting next to one another as possible. Air Canada also recommends customers check-in online or via the Air Canada App prior to arriving at airports to minimize social contact at airport check-in areas.

Additional information about Air Canada’s preventative measures are at: https://www.aircanada.com/ca/en/aco/home/book/travel-news-and-updates/2020/covid-19-preventive-measures.html