Our June meeting was a Pub Night initially at the Riverside Pub. When we arrived there we discovered the place was packed for a "Lobster Fest" and so moved to the Royal Oak on Hunt Club, a few blocks away, where seven Flight 8 members got together to talk.
For the April Flight 8 meeting Flight Captain Mike Shaw organized a safety video evening at the Ottawa Flying Club to make use of the new series of COPA/AOPA videos.
COPA President and CEO Kevin Psutka was at the meeting and explained how the series came about. The videos were conceived by COPA and funded by The Donner Canadian Foundation, an organization that underwrites projects for social good. COPA contracted AOPA in the United States to produce the videos, since they have expertise in that area and AOPA shot much of the footage in Canada using Canadian pilots and aircraft. The Donner Canadian Foundation provided $50,000 the first year, $40,000 the second year and $80,000 in for COPA safety video production.
Psutka explained that COPA is working with Transport Canada to have watching some combination of videos count towards the pilot two year recency requirement specified in CAR Standard 421.05.
Shaw set up his new HP laptop, a projector, screen and connected to the Ottawa Flying Club's public internet access point to view the video links from the COPA website.
The videos shown were:
Takeoffs and Landings - Base to Final Turn
Takeoffs and Landings - Stabilized Approach
Takeoffs and Landings - Crosswind Landings
Takeoffs and Landings - Normal Takeoffs
Takeoffs and Landings - Short Field Landings
Takeoffs and Landings - Determining an Abort Point
Runway Safety - Near Collision at Allentown, Pennsylvania
Runway Safety - Wrong Runway Takeoff Attempt at Bluegrass, Kentucky
Runway Safety - Runway Intersection Collision at Quincy, Illinois
Ambushed by Ice
Shaw then finished the evening with a Bob Hoover aerobatics video from You Tube
Each video generated discussion from the Flight 8 members. Not everyone agreed with the points made in the videos, but that lead to some constructive debate about what should have been included.
In conclusion the evening was a success and Flight 8 hopes to repeat this safety video night again at some point in the future.
For Flight 8's March meeting Flight Captain Mike Shaw invited COPA President and CEO, Kevin Psutka, to update the flight members on current issues in aviation. Aspiring COPA Board member Dave Sprague from Toronto also came to the meeting and spoke at the end.
Psutka started off by reviewing the trends in aircraft and pilot statistics and noted that the number of registered aircraft registered in Canada continues to climb each year. The vast majority of the aircraft fleet consists of small, privately-owned aircraft, with most of the growth in recent years occurring in the non-certified categories. Psutka concluded, "airports, hangars and access to more airspace are increasingly needed for this growing and varied GA fleet." He also showed data illustrating that the price of new aircraft since has escalated at a rate that has far out-paced the rate of inflation, making aircraft ownership less affordable over time.
In looking at pilot numbers, the raw data shows a slow increase over the last 30 years in the number of Canadian licenced pilots. The number of non-commercial pilots has actually been decreasing while the number of commercial pilots has increased. Digging into the data, the key factor in this turns out to be the training of foreign airline pilots, who of course don't live here or fly in Canada once their training is completed. This results in more Canadian licences issued, but to non-residents. In reality the number of Canadians who hold pilots' licences, both commercial and non-commercial is declining over time. Psutka remarked that while the flight training for foreign pilots is a boon to flight schools in Canada today, eventually these countries will develop their own flight training industry and the boom will then quickly end.
Psutka went on to explain the good work that COPA is doing to encourage Canadians to fly, including the COPA For Kids program, the Neil Armstrong Scholarships and Women of Aviation.
The federal government continues to have no policy for general aviation. Under the present federal government Transport Canada (TC) has suffered deep cuts that have forced it to abandon much of its mandate, including most aspects of general aviation.
Psutka discussed the National Airports Policy (NAP) that was brought in during and continues to fail in supporting aviation in Canada. The NAP was a plan for getting the government out of the business of owning airports, as part of austerity measures. Its two original key policy statements remain, the "National Airports Policy provides a framework that clearly defines the federal government's role with airports" and "much of the Canadian transportation system is overbuilt: 94 per cent of all air passengers and cargo use only 26 of 726 airports".
Despite COPA's efforts, each successive Transport Minister refuses to review the policy, always standing behind, "local communities are the best placed to assess the importance of (airport) services and to seek support, starting locally, for their continuation". History, of course, has proven this wrong. Edmonton City Centre Airport closed in ; Buttonville, the 6th busiest airport in Canada, is closing; Toronto City Centre Airport is virtually closed to light aircraft and Oshawa City Council has voted to not extend the main runway at their airport; St Hubert is the subject of a class action lawsuit for noise that may close it and the municipality that owns Waterville Airport in Nova Scotia, a key airport for weather safety, has voted to close it.
In responding to the problem of the closing down of the national airports system by local governments with no appreciation for national transportation requirements, TC has moved to further distance itself from the situation. They recent put out Advisory Circular 300-009, which says, "the Department recommends that an aerodrome operator/developer consult with local land use authorities prior to establishing an aerodrome and seek the necessary legal advice on compliance with the applicable laws. Any question, concerns or clarification respecting the application of law, division of powers, or jurisdictional issues should be directed to a lawyer." The Advisory Circular may actually prove to be unconstitutional and that may land TC in court again.
Psutka pointed out that COPA has spent over $600,000 from the COPA Freedom to Fly Fund defending Canadians' rights to own and operate an aerodrome. COPA's Supreme Court case saw the court declare, "the location of an airport comes within Parliament’s core of exclusive federal jurisdiction" and "the transportation needs of the country cannot be allowed to be hobbled by local interests." Despite this clear-cut case and many before it, municipalities continue to push for by-law and zoning control over airports and TC continues to walk away from aviation, leaving COPA to defend national aviation interests.
Another aerodrome issue that is an ongoing problem is the erection of obstacles near runways, in particular windmills. COPA has investigated all the legal avenues and found that there is no protection, except at the few federally-zoned airports. TC's role in the event of obstacles interfering with runways is to restrict use of the aerodrome, by displacing thresholds of closing runways. Likewise Nav Canada can only raise IFR approach minimums or remove the approaches to the airport.
COPA's work becomes critical in this environment, ensuring that TC upholds the decisions of the Supreme Court. Psutka also stated that "if aerodrome proponents have to consult, so too must off-airport developers". He emphasized that only COPA has the resources to stand up to bad policy and to fight it in court.
Psutka also covered some other contemporary issues in aviation, including Canada's role though the National Research Council in 100LL avgas replacement, representation at UAV rule-making, making aviation regulations more easily understood, and the perennial favourite, ELTs. He also explained current border security initiatives and supporting IAOPA in its work at ICAO trying to ensure that body doesn't pass onerous standards for its member nations to enact.
Psutka encouraged members who can do so to come to the IAOPA World Assembly being held in Beijing, China, between -. There is also the COPA Annual General Meeting to be held in Peterborough, Ontario on and members should plan to attend that or sign a poxy sheet to ensure their voice is heard.
He summed up in quoting the TC Director General Civil Aviation who said at COPA’s Fly-in AGM: "I firmly believe that without your organization aviation in Canada would be without one of its most powerful voices."
Dave Sprague spoke after Psutka. Sprague is currently running for the COPA Board in elections that run until . He noted that there are seven candidates running for three Southern Ontario positions and came to gain support from the flight members. He also spoke about events going on at Toronto City Centre Airport, where general aviation is being squeezed out by airline operations, primarily though termination of leases. He outlined the problems general aviation faces in the Toronto area, with City Centre and Buttonville gone, Pearson closed effectively to small aircraft and Oshawa rejecting any expansion. This leaves Canada's largest city with very few places to base aircraft.
COPA Flight 8 would like to thank both Kevin Psutka and Dave Sprague for taking time out from their busy schedules to address the flight members. We would also like to wish Dave Sprague "good luck" in his quest for a board seat.
For our November meeting Patrick Gilligan, COPA’s Vice President of Operations, briefed COPA Flight 8 in Ottawa on issues with iPads and apps like ForeFlight in the Cockpit.
By way of introduction, Gilligan showed his three iPads: a version one, a two and a Mini. He noted that his three iPads have access to the cell phone data networks and therefore also have internal GPS cards. The models with only Wifi connection ability do not contain an internal GPS. For those models one needs an external GPS such as those sold by Dual, Bad-Elf, Garmin and others. I have a Bad-Elf GPS Pro which is a Bluetooth model that will connect with 5 handheld devices. Many Bluetooth models only connect with one device at a time.
Gilligan also noted that he uses his iPads to display a glass cockpit driven by a wifi-enabled Attitude and Heading Reference System (AHRS). These devices duplicate mechanical gyroscopic instruments, e.g., the directional gyro and artificial horizon. They do so with solid state devices that contain no mechanical gyroscopes. They are reliable, durable and subject to fewer problems than vacuum based flight instruments. Some models can even be connected to the aircraft’s pitot static system to display actual airspeed. Gilligan uses a model sold by Levil Technology Corp. Fortunately for Gilligan he flies a homebuilt Van's Aircraft RV-8 so he can install these devices without legal issues. He noted that some models will work in certified aircraft and make excellent backups to mechanical gyro instruments.
Gilligan’s main story is that pilots can indeed legally use iPads and other handheld devices to supply navigation and other information while flying. That said, it is no different than using a current paper chart supplied by Nav Canada. As all pilots are aware, all Canadian charts expressly require users to check Notices To Airmen (NOTAMs), Aeronautical Information Circulars (AICs) and Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) Supplements and the Canada Flight Supplement (CFS) to correct and update the charts on their own. It likely is a good plan to check Nav Canada’s service notices also. As you know it is the pilot’s responsibility to check this information and note chart corrections and updates before each flight. We all do that, eh!
This responsibility is the same if you are using, your memory (brain), a handheld GPS, an iPad with an app like Foreflight, or paper charts. “Your honour, I didn’t know that restricted area was there”, is not an acceptable defence to avoid a penalty! Fines for busting CYR 537/538 (over the Canadian Parliament Buildings and the Governor General’s Residence) are running at $750.
Gilligan pointed out that Nav Canada is supplying digitized maps to ForeFlight, but they are really paper era PDF files, that is images, rather than vector graphics. Unfortunately when ForeFlight presents them on your iPad’s screen they don’t always work the way we would hope. For example when two Visual Flight Rules Navigation Charts (VNCs) charts both display the same location they may be in conflict because Nav Canada’s chart update frequency varies by chart. Gilligan noted the differences between VNCs for Toronto and Sault Ste Marie. He drew our attention to the restricted airspace just north of Pembroke, Ontario as shown in the screen captures from my iPad. The one on the left is from Sault Ste Marie’s VNC and it fails to include CYR 543, while the correctly shown one on the right is from Toronto’s VNC, a more recent chart. This is because Sault Ste Marie’s VNC is not updated as frequently as Toronto’s. As well there are legacy issues that show up on Canadian VNC’s that flows from Nav Canada’s paper-based past. It is your job as pilot to figure this stuff out before flight. Gilligan suggests the best way is to flight plan using the Instrument Flying Rules (IFR) charts, namely the Low Enroute (LE) Charts (also included in the ForeFlight Canadian charts) to avoid restricted or alert airspace because these charts are updated every 56 days. When in flight you can use the appropriate VNC as you wish, since your route will take you around these areas.
Bright sunlight and turbulence can make iPad use in the cockpit difficult. You don’t want to be checking minimums on an instrument approach plate and accidentally bounce your finger of the iPad’s screen and have the plate disappear. It is stressful enough flying on instruments without having to search for what has just disappeared from your screen when you touched it accidentally. Gilligan suggest taking a screen capture of the approach plate and working with it as a photo which can be more stable. Also, use screen captures of information that will be hard to search out of an electronic version of the Canada Flight Supplement (CFS). One other gotcha with the first model iPad was that it was not readable in landscape format with polarized sunglasses. But then we know polarized glasses should be avoided when flying, eh.
Other gotchas: ForeFlight often shows American Flight Service Stations when displaying information about Canadian airports. Additionally, ForeFlight will often show the wrong FSS frequencies for Canada. Looking at Ottawa International (CYOW), Foreflight shows the FSS frequencies as 123.5 and 126.7. Neither are correct for this area. FSS is not monitoring 126.7 and Rockcliffe’s (CYRO) UNICOM is on 123.5, not an FSS.
Finally, ForeFlight’s airport information pages often show only the specific airport’s Canada Flight Supplement (CFS) information, failing to show accompanying any existing CFS VFR Terminal Procedures Chart pages. These terminal charts are a big help to VFR fliers showing various traffic flows patterns, call up and reporting points in and around the airspace surrounding busier airports. Your subscription to ForeFlight allows you to install it on more than one device. You can download the entire CFS into the documents section of ForeFlight, but if you are using your iPhone as backup for your iPad you will not have a backup of the complete CFS. There is no documents section on the iPhone. The documents section in ForeFlight can contain a variety of American and Canadian chart legends, guides and other information.
Bottom line: it is legal and extremely useful to use your iPad, handheld GPS, etc, while flying, but that does not excuse you from the requirement to have all the relevant information for your route on board.
Thank you to Patrick Gilligan for an informative and interesting evening.
COPA Flight 8 met on Tuesday at the Rockcliffe Flying Club to hear from Jeff Jeffrey about security at airports, airlines and the possible future impacts for general aviation. Jeffrey was responsible for implementing the Transport Canada imposed Security Management System (SeMS) at WestJet. Previously he was the RCMP's aviation security guru. Transport Canada is responsible for aviation security, focusing largely on airports and airlines. That said, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and our neighbours to the south and east have a significant influence on our approach to security. In fact the American Transportation Security Administration (TSA) largely controls how our nation approaches security at airports supporting transborder operations between Canada and the USA.
Interestingly, but not so surprising, drunk passengers are the primary security problem for many airlines. They disrupt flights, fail to comply with instructions from crews, and even occasionally assault crews. I guess we are luckier in private aircraft operations.
Transport Canada is responsible for security at airports, the airlines and general aviation. They have established a program for certified airports and airlines that looks a lot like the Safety Management Systems used to manage safety regulation of the same operators. GA has been largely ignored, at least in Canada, but that may be changing in the future. Look for security measures to make GA operations at airport supporting airline operations to become more of an issue. In the future we may have limited or no access to major airports like Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver. At other airports we will need to be on guard, with a "see it, report it" approach. You know, if you see someone loading a 172’s cabin with fertilizer and diesel fuel, call the authorities (911). Be aware of tailgating when passing locked gates and doors. Tailgating is that process where a pilot with a key opens the gate to access his plane and another vehicle arrives looking to pass through the gate at the same time. Does the second vehicle have permission, at least a gate key? Fixed Base Operators (FBOs) will have to think about access to secure areas from open hangar doors. This will be especially true at airports supporting airline operations.
While we have largely avoided the Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) popping up in our airspace, we may expect pressure for more and larger restricted areas such as over Parliament hill in Ottawa.
The bottom line seems to be that if we do our part to help secure aviation in this country we will likely face a better security environment than if we are obstructionists in the process.
COPA Flight 8’s meeting was a briefing about Avinca by Jean Rene de Cotret and Chris Hobbs at Rockcliffe Flying Club in Ottawa about their online IFR training course.
Avinca is the brainchild of two Rockcliffe Flying Club ground school and flight instructors. It is an IFR ground school employing a Carleton University-designed teaching application and a high speed Internet connection. It is a new initiative called Avinca.
Hobbs and Rene de Cotret have been teaching various ground schools at Rockcliffe for over 10 years and were looking for a way to extend their reach. They don’t offer “canned” material that some other schools offer, self-learning material or videos, rather they wanted to provide a live experience with real-time instructors able to answer questions and elaborate on concepts as required. Effectively they offer a live class room experience that students can attend without leaving their homes.
Hobbs is a software developer who was peripherally involved in the development of an application created by Carleton University students and many others called Big Blue Button. This application is an open-source, remote teaching application providing simultaneous voice, video-camera, presentation material, and chat to create an effective interaction between student and instructor.
With Big Blue Button, the instructor uploads presentation material (e.g., PowerPoint, pdf, etc). Students log in and see a screen similar to the one shown, containing (from left to right) a list of participants including a clickable raise your hand icon, the instructor’s presentation material and to the right, the chat window. Below that is an image showing the instructor’s webcam. Students can move these elements around to suit their screen format.
The instructor can flip through charts, zoom in on specific areas of images if desired and use a drawing tool to highlight different parts of the chart. The instructor uses a headset to talk about the material and can show images of documents, or a whiteboard, on the webcam.
Students can alert the instructor to a question by raising their hand (by clicking the above-mentioned raise your hand icon), or by typing a comment in the chat box. This comment will be seen by all participants. Individual participants can also have private conversations with any other participant in a separate chat window.
Initially, Avinca chose to offer an IFR course as this is one that few schools are equipped to teach and where they thought they could have the most impact. They are considering offering commercial and perhaps private license ground schools in the future. After trying various session lengths, they settled on 90 minutes for each class. They believed that participants might find it difficult to concentrate in front of a PC for longer than that.
So far feedback has been very positive. Students like avoiding trips to a classroom, especially in bad weather. They have had students login from as far away as China, but most are at their homes.
One of the comments they have received, and this is a common reaction by users of teleconferencing technology, is that students would like the chance to meet the other students near the beginning of the course in order to feel comfortable as a group. This is something we need to work on, particularly when the students are geographically separated.
Students are supplied with a course package including a workbook with over 400 questions, out of which homework is assigned before and after lessons. To communicate the homework assignments and to provide a forum for students to talk among themselves, Avinca uses another open-source tool, Moodle, which is an internet-based learning management system. This provides a web site with standard tools which Avinca can use to create lesson plans, course schedules, on-line exams, surveys and forums to allow students to discuss questions, and to allow instructors to post challenges.
Bookings are handled by the Rockcliffe Flying Club. If you are looking to enhance your knowledge of the aviation system, whether you fly according to visual flight rules or in instruments this may be the IFR course for you.
For the COPA Flight 8 meeting Flight Captain Mike Shaw invited Jon Pharoah, Ph.D, P.Eng, the Associate Director of the Queen's University-Royal Military College Fuel Cell Research Centre (FCRC) in Kingston, Ontario to speak to the group about fuel cells. Pharoah is also an associate professor of mechanical and materials engineering at Queen's and is a strong believer in the potential of fuel cell technology for transportation use.
Pharoah started off by describing the FCRC, which started in and has grown into an large research centre doing both independent and industry-collaborative research. The FCRC has a staff of ten faculty members, plus 30 graduate students and about 23 other staff and students. It has 10,000 sq ft of lab and office space, including seven labs with five automated test cells and two custom test cells and a broad-based advisory board. The centre's main objectives are improving fuel cell performance while, at the same time reducing the cost of fuel cells.
The centre works on Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) and solid oxide fuel cells, develops methods of producing, processing and storing hydrogen fuel. To accomplish this the centre has developed expertise in reliability and durability testing, manufacturing polymer composites, computational modelling, manufacturing cost modelling, ceramics and nanomaterials, catalysts and reaction engineering and computational thermodynamic process development.
Since one of the largest cost items in fuel cell manufacture has been the use of platinum as a catalyst, much research work has been done on reducing the amount of platinum required though carbon support structures, ionomer aggregation and also through research into platinum alternatives.
Pharoah started his section on fuel cell use by emphasizing that hydrogen is not a source of energy, but merely a means of transporting produced energy, but that fuel cells are the best potential for using hydrogen as a fuel source, as they are many time more efficient than burning hydrogen. He pointed that that switching from an oil to a hydrogen economy has some significant benefits, including emission reductions, (as fuel cells only produce water as a tail-pipe byproduct), versatility and energy security. The issue of energy security is important, as Pharoah noted, because hydrogen can be produced anywhere by a number of different processes, including by electrolysing water, which potentially frees all nations from dependency on imported oil from unstable suppliers.
Pharoah noted that modern sources of electrical power, including wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, tidal, nuclear, natural gas and biomass can all efficiently be used produce hydrogen during periods of non-peak demand and that the hydrogen is a convenient means of storing non-peak energy produced.
Fuel cells are not future technology, there are in use today and several companies have produced commercial applications. The Canadian companies Ballard and Hydrogenics, as well as the New York-based Plug Power, have produced polymer electrolyte fuel cells. Bloom Energy of California and CFCL of Australia have build and deployed solid oxide fuel cells. Fuel Cell Energy of Connecticut has sold molten carbonate cells, while UTC Power, also of Connecticut has produced phosphoric acid fuel cells. These have been employed for such diverse uses as powering city bus fleets, indoor forklifts (where emissions are critical), for back-up power supplies and on-site power generation. Businesses as diverse as breweries to waste water treatment plants to automobile manufacturing operations are using fuel cells today to produce electricity. Fuel cells have also been used to fly experimental aircraft, but not production aircraft, to date. Most flights have used low-powered motorgliders, like the Antares H2, as research aircraft.
Pharoah described the advantages and limitations of liquid hydrogen as a fuel. Liquid hydrogen has 2.8 times the energy of kerosene by weight, but only one quarter the energy density compared to kerosene by volume, meaning that for an aircraft to produce the same range would require a tank four times the size of a jet fuel tank. Because of the low temperature and high pressure (700 bar or 10,000 psi) the tanks need to be spherical, or at least cylindrical, in shape and this has an impact on aircraft design to accommodate them. At least one airliner design proposes using large fuselage tanks over the passenger cabin to hold hydrogen.
For airliner use there is no doubt that using hydrogen as a fuel will not be as compact as kerosene, producing a 16% lower maximum take-off weight, a 20-25% higher empty weight and that the increased whetted area from the larger fuel tanks will result in a higher specific energy consumption by about 8-15%. The other factor is that hydrogen, whether directly burned or used in a fuel cell, produces water as its sole waste product. For high-flying jet aircraft it may be undesirable to put that much water into the stratosphere as it causes high altitude cloud formation and planetary heat retention.
One aviation use that is being actively pursed is using fuel cells in place of airliner auxiliary power units to supply electrical power. This allows emissions-free ground operations, including cabin heating and cooling. The water output can also be used on the aircraft for humidifying the cabin air. Research is being conducted into the use of fuel cells on airliners to power drive the nose wheel, allowing emissions-free taxiing, rather than taxiing on the main engines. This has the potential to realize large fuel savings and is technically relatively easy to accomplish.
Pharoah completed his presentation with information on hydrogen storage and safety. Some experimental results have demonstrated that hydrogen is potentially safer than gasoline and similar other liquid fuels, as its light weight carries fire up and away from the tank holding it.
COPA Flight 8 would like to thank Jon Pharoah for travelling from Kingston to make his presentation to us. He knowledgeable enthusiasm for hydrogen as a fuel, and fuel cells in particular, made a very positive impression on the flight members and gave us much to consider.
For our meeting COPA Flight 8 hosted globe-trotting aviator Al Hepburn. Hepburn has been a regular speaker at Flight 8, having made presentations to the flight four times previously. His adventures in long-range flying never fail to bring out a good crowd of interested flight members, eager to hear about his latest foray. This time it was a trip that ranged as far as Istanbul, via Prague, Venice, Rhodes, Odessa and Budapest and then home by way of Iceland and Greenland, of course, all as part of Air Journey's Transatlantic adventure.
For those who haven't met Hepburn, the tall Scotsman learned to fly on Cessna 150s in Scotland in . He emigrated to Canada in , just in time to see the army deployed in the streets of his new home. One of his main reasons for coming to Canada was to pursue recreational flying, something hard to do in Scotland, even today. Once in Canada he lost little time buying his first plane, a Cherokee in and quickly flew it to the USA. In he took it to the Bahamas and flew the Caribbean in the s. In he signed up with Air Journey for their Central America tour and soon after found himself working for them as a journey director, guiding other less experienced pilots on long flights. In he lead his first Transatlantic gaggle, from Goose Bay to Dundee, Scotland. Since then he has been right round the world by light plane and even through mainland China, something not many pilots can claim. These days Hepburn is retired from his lifelong profession as an engineer, but he still takes assignments from Air Journey for long range flights helping less experienced pilots see the world.
This flight involved just two aircraft, and rather high performance ones at that: a Cessna Citation Mustang jet and a TBM 700 turboprop. The Mustang owner was Gary Gant from Red Deer, Alberta, while the TBM was flown by 84-year-old Sandy Gallant, from San Francisco, California.
Air Journey's initial tour guide had to get back to school, so Hepburn picked up the assignment by joining the tour already in progress in Prague, Czech Republic. Hepburn travelled by airline from New York to Dusseldorf and then onto Dresden, taking the train to Prague. The tour crews were seeing the sights and spent another two nights in Prague.
Hepburn stated that Prague seemed well on its way to recovery from its communist days and is a very vibrant modern city these days. They toured some of the best known sights, such as Prague Castle, the largest ancient castle in the world, and saw a working clock built in 1410.
Hepburn noted that all routes flown in Europe must be flight planned and validated with EuroControl in advance and that for this purpose Skyvector.com and their free posting of most aeronautical charts on line was an immense help. The price (free) also appealed to Hepburn's Scottish frugality, something he joked about.
The first flying leg was from Prague to Venice, flying over the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria and Italy. Neither aircraft had been refuelled on landing, a problem that was to delay several other planned future early morning departures from several other airports. Refuelling at the airport cost an hour's wait.
The flight went smoothly and they arrived without incident in the city of canals. They travelled to their hotel by speedboat, something fairly unusual, even in Europe. Hepburn noted that Venice can be pricey; the party was charged €16 each (about Cdn$21) just to sit at the table in the restaurant, before even ordering food. The view over the city was nice, though. During their time there they saw the glass works at Murano and Burano, where lace is made.
After two nights in Venice it was on to the Greek island of Rhodes, a flight of 974 nm. The crews were all in the boat to depart the hotel by 0800 hours, but once again refuelling had not been possible on arrival and so departure was delayed. Upon landing in Rhodes fuel was once again not available at that time. While on the island they toured forts from The Crusades, the port and several mosques.
Istanbul was next on the itinerary. Because some of his clients were Jewish-American there were safety concerns in light of the recent embassy bombing in Libya and so US State Department advice was solicited and the concerns allayed.
In Istanbul the airport is in Asia, while the hotel is in Europe, the city being divided by the Bosphorus that is the boundary between the continents. The hotel for this rather upscale stay was a former royal palace. Istanbul is known as the city of a thousand mosques and also the city of a thousand bazaars, too. While there they saw a lot of pottery, expensive carpets and lots of counterfeit goods, like bogus Breitling watches, which were also surprisingly expensive.
The next leg would take the two planes from Istanbul, over Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and the Ukraine and into Odessa, on the Black Sea. This leg required airspace permits, but the flight went smoothly. The city has a small nice part of town and a large less-than-nice-part of town in an area known for its conflict between ethnic Russians and Ukrainians. The hotel, organized by Air Journey, although nice itself, was in the latter part of town. The crews looked the city over and decided that coming there had been a mistake and so requested an alternate plan that did not involve staying there. Hepburn suggested Vienna for two nights instead and this was quickly agreed to. Air Journey head office coordinated the hotel in Vienna.
Flying from Odessa to Vienna would involve transiting some interesting places, like the Republic of Moldova. Once fuelled the crews were presented with bills for parking fees of US$1200 per aircraft, for one night! Weather information was obtained via text message from US flight service.
Vienna proved charming and the crews spent their ground days visiting the opera house, some famous and ancient churches and watching horse show jumping.
After Vienna it was on to Budapest where they saw large fruit and vegetable markets, monuments to the Great Patriotic War (which Canadians call the Second World War) and even a statue of Ronald Reagan oddly mounted on the street outside the Russian Embassy. They also toured St Stephen's Basilica and crossed the Danube River to see Buda Castle.
The next leg took the pair of planes across Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany and into Berlin. The flight went well, but after securing the aircraft the taxi took the crews to the wrong hotel. Once that was sorted out everyone was happy with the accommodation. Touring included Cold War relics like the Berlin Wall and the well-preserved Checkpoint Charlie. They also saw the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, Embassy Row, the Tiergarten, Hauptbahnhof (train station) and the Holocaust Memorial.
While in Berlin they got a call from the airport, the TBM 700 was venting fuel all over the ramp! Once back at the airport, they found the fire trucks and hazmat response crews in place and about 40 litres of fuel spilled. It was clear that the plane was slightly off-level and they managed to stop the flow of fuel, although the response and clean-up fees came to €7000 (about Cdn$9200).
After this episode, it was time to head home to North America and Hepburn planned them via Sumburgh Airport in the the Shetland Islands. The TBM 700 registered an Environmental Control System (ECS) fault, which would result in no cabin heat or defrost! A short flight to Esbjerg, Denmark allowed the ECS to be reset on the ground and no further faults occurred. From there it was onto Sumburgh.
The North Atlantic legs went smoothly, flying from Sumburgh to Reykjavík, Iceland and on to Narsarsuaq, Greenland, an airport that Hepburn had never been to in all his Atlantic crossings before. From there it was into Goose Bay for customs, Quebec City and, for Hepburn, Pembroke and home.
Flight 8 would like to thank Al Hepburn for making the trek down to Ottawa to make this presentation, as always his trips are inspiring to pilots who would like to fly the world!
For COPA Flight 8's March meeting Flight Captain Mike Shaw invited Flight 8 members Chuck O'Dale and Gillian Sullivan to brief us on their flight last summer by Cessna 177B Cardinal to the Canadian arctic. Their motivations for taking such a long flight included attending the convention of the Royal Astronomical Society (RASC) in Edmonton, participating in the Lovelace flying tour, as well as exploring some meteorite impact sites and other geological and historical sites along the way.
The flight started at the pair's home base of Rockcliffe, in the City of Ottawa and immediately required negotiating low cloud and headwinds, reducing the 177B's ground speed to 96 knots. They arrived in Chapleau, Ontario after a 3.6 hour flight. Next was Dryden Ontario, a 3.9 hour run into more headwinds and some good turbulence over the northern Ontario hills. This leg included the Slate Islands impact crater with its large shatter cones from the initial impact that the meteorite had made when it hit the earth 436 million years ago. By the time they reached Dauphin, Manitoba, in 2.9 hours the headwinds had died out and the temperature was getting hot.
After an overnight stay, the next destination was Flin Flon, Manitoba. They also saw the Deep Bay impact crater, formed 99 million years ago, during the age of the dinosaurs and the Gow impact crater from 250 million years ago on the way to Fort McMurray. The flight to Fort McMurray took 3.2 hours. Next was Lesser Slave Lake, a 1.7 hour flight. There they spent the night in their tent and got blasted out of bed by a turboprop starting up at a very late hour. That was the one and only night they slept in their tent.
The next leg was to Edmonton City Centre Airport, a short 1.0 hour flight with a very high tailwind that produced a 160 knot groundspeed. In Edmonton they attended the RASC convention and visited some of the local sights, including the Alberta Aviation Museum, located right at the City Centre Airport. They noted that the service they received at City Centre was outstanding. While in the area they checked out the small 40-59 m wide Whitecourt Crater.
Once the RASC convention was done it was onto Prince George, British Columbia, in a 3.6 hour flight despite lowered visibilities in forest fire smoke. They decided to chance a flight to "IFR weather magnet" Prince Rupert on the coast, as the weather was VFR, which is unusual for that city. Knowing that they wouldn't get two days of VFR in a row, they did not stay overnight there, however, and proceeded to Terrace, BC, a leg that resulted in the only weather delay of the whole trip.
While they never had problems getting fuel on the trip, O'Dale noted that pilots flying north of Terrace BC or Fort McMurray need to carry an ample supply of piston engine oil, as it just isn't available. The situation caught at least one Cessna 180 pilot they met off guard as he offered to buy used engine oil from O'Dale.
The 3.7 hour flight to Watson Lake, BC, involved some low cloud, but a 150 knot groundspeed included a view of lofty Virginia Falls on the Nahani River. In Watson Lake the Cessna 177B's starter failed to engage. A call got a local retired AME to check it out and he was able to fix it with just a squirt of oil in the right place. With the starter working again it was onto Fort Simpson via the Yukon Badlands, Norman Wells and finally across the Arctic Circle to Tuktoyaktuk.
Tuktoyaktuk has no fuel and not much else either, these days, so after a short stay, they flew the 1.0 hours south to Inuvik and a fuel stop. Staying in Inuvik for a few days they attended the Northern Arts Festival and visited the igloo church, a Roman Catholic church built without plans and in the shape of an igloo. They even saw the most northern stop light, which is also in Inuvik! In town they stayed in an upscale hotel which featured a jacuzzi and watched the midnight sun.
After Inuvik it was back to Norman Wells and onto Great Bear Lake and Yellowknife. Tourist activities in Yellowknife included seeing Cameron Falls, a look at the all-sand golf course, where players are given a piece of astroturf to drive from and an aerial view of the extinct volcano north of the city. The pair also did a day trip to Lac de Gras and an overflight of the open pit diamond mines.
Returning to Fort McMurray took just 3.6 hours with a 150 knot groundspeed. This leg included an overflight of Pilot Lake, a 445 million year old impact crater and the Carswell impact crater, which is much newer, at 115 million years.
From Fort McMurray to The Pas took 3.2 hours, again with a tailwind, although close encounters in uncontrolled airspace with a Turbo Beaver and Metroliner were a bit unnerving. The next leg to Pickle Lake, Ontario featured reduced visibilities in forest fire smoke, one of the hazards of summer flying. From Pickle Lake it was onto Timmins and then one more 2.9 hour leg home to land at Rockcliffe and home again. Due to some inattentive circuit traffic they had two more close calls in the Rockcliffe circuit. Distracted by the traffic issues, O'Dale forgot to close his flight plan, something Nav Canada caught! The flight ended with a hamburger and a beer at Tony's grill at Rockcliffe Airport.
The whole trip covered 7289 nautical miles in 66.6 hours of flying. Both O'Dale and Sullivan indicated that it was a very memorable flight and well worth the effort.
Kathleen Van Benthem is a researcher at Carleton University in Ottawa who decided to do her PhD dissertation in Cognitive Science on ageing and other effects on general aviation pilot performance. This is part of a larger nine year collaborative project between local flying clubs, flying schools and Carleton's Advanced Cognitive Engineering (ACE) Laboratory.
Since a number of COPA Flight 8 pilots have participated in her study, including Flight 8 Captain Mike Shaw, Van Benthem was kind enough to come to our February meeting and present some of her results. The evening featured the largest snowstorm of this winter in Ottawa and so attendance was not as high as usual at Flight 8 meetings.
Van Benthem started her PhD program after completing an MA in Health Studies and also after having qualified and worked as an Occupational Therapist. She is not a pilot and that probably contributed to her fresh perspective on the aviation issues around ageing and cognitive functioning. Her goal for the program is to contribute to developing a screening tool for pilots, not with the aim of medically grounding them, but helping them identify when functioning is not as good as it needs to be, to allow steps to be taken to overcome those disabilities.
Van Benthem started with a literature review to see what research had already been done in the field and then move to an on-line survey to identify perceptions and concerns. Following that she put a sample of pilots though a series of scenarios in the ACE Cessna 172 simulator that tested situational awareness, prospective memory and reactions to simulated critical incidents.
The literature review showed some very interesting results. For instance the US National Transportation Safety Board in identified that general aviation in the US has an accident rate that is a fifty times higher than that of scheduled airlines and that 80% of all aviation accidents are due to pilot error. Taylor et al in and papers found that older pilots have reduced performance in decision making as well as overall aviating performance. Morrow et al, in studies from and , found that older pilots had reduced performance in tasks involving communication.
The on-line survey was conducted Canada-wide and asked instructors and examiners about a range of issues, including about pilots over 65 and under 25. For older pilots during training the trends that emerged were concerns about physical ability and situational awareness. For the younger pilots undergoing training the instructor and examiner concerns were predominantly about decision making. During later currency checks the concerns about older pilots included lack of recency, situational awareness and procedural knowledge, while for younger pilots it was again decision making. These concerns were not necessarily valid, they showed what instructors and examiners thought, though.
The simulator studies made use of the Cessna 172 simulator at ACE. This was built from a real 172 and equipped with surround visual displays, although the simulator is non-motion. Simulator rides were conducted on 108 volunteer pilots, all with current medical certificates, ranging in age from 18 to 91, with a wide range of flying experience. The exercises consisted of flying text book type light aircraft circuits, plus other tasks. There were low workload and high workload scenarios. Level one included freezing the display and checking the subject for situational awareness. Level two involved the subject identifying location in time and space, while level three involved projecting events into the future to foresee outcomes, testing prospective memory skills. Level four involved reacting to a critical incident, a runway incursion.
The test results accounted for age, cognitive health testing and flying experience. The results showed that most older pilots display decreased performance in all tested areas, but that age alone did not account for the results. The individual's cognitive testing results, particularly for low-functioning individuals far better predicted performance that just age alone. In other words a younger pilot with poor cognitive functioning may not fly as well as an older pilot with good functioning.
Based on her results, Van Benthem did have some general advice for pilots who want to continue to fly as they get older. For general health she said that pilots should eat well, exercise, watch their fatigue levels and keep their weight down. For cognitive functioning she stated that it is important to maintain mental activity by pushing abilities though activities such as learning new subjects. She suggested that one of the best all around exercises for keeping the mind and body working well is to play ping-pong. She noted that ping-pong develops mental agility while keeping the body in shape as well.
COPA Flight 8 would like to thank Kathleen Van Benthem for coming out to present her findings to the group, small as it was, on such a foul weather evening!
About a dozen COPA Flight members braved the chilly January temperatures to travel to the Ornge air ambulance base hangar at the Ottawa International Airport for a tour of the facilities and the AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters that they fly.
Our tour guide was AW139 First Officer Mike Smith. Smith was chosen for the assignment because of his extensive general aviation background, flying ultralights, light aircraft and instructing as well, which meant he spoke our language. Smith's enthusiasm for air ambulance flying was obvious as he walked us through how an Ornge dispatch works and then proceeded on a detailed walk around of the Italian-built AW139.
Flight 8 members were fortunate in that there were four AW139s present, half the organization's fleet. One was the Ottawa standby aircraft, which returned from a call to Cornwall while we were there. It was joined by the Sudbury aircraft, whose crew had reached their maximum crew day after delivering a patient from Sudbury and were overnighting in Ottawa. There was also a spare aircraft and one partially disassembled for maintenance. The large number of aircraft present gave us a good chance to see the AW139 close up. Smith powered up the EFIS-equipped cockpit and described its operation along with the aircraft's capabilities.
The AW139 is new to Ornge, but it offers a larger cabin than the Sikorsky S-76 that it replaces and has a higher cruise speed, both assets for the medevac mission.
Flight 8 would like to thank Mike Smith for coming in on his evening off to give us such a detailed tour!
Our November Flight 8 meeting was presented by Merv Jamieson, who is with the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC), which is part of Environment Canada (EC). Jamieson is part of the Ottawa team that manages the contract with Nav Canada to write aviation weather forecasts. Until he worked as an aviation weather forecaster in Edmonton, writing forecasts for the west coast, arctic and the prairies.
Historically aviation weather forecasting was part of the Department of Transport, now called Transport Canada (TC). Then in weather forecasting was moved to the Department of the Environment (now EC) under a memorandum of understanding with both the Transport and Defence departments. This continued until Nav Canada was formed in and MSC started providing the new organization with contract weather services, while continuing to write forecasts for the Department of National Defence as well. In a bid to reduce costs MSC consolidated their regional operations into a single forecast centre, with two offices, in .
Jamieson started by explaining that MSC forecasters work under contract to Nav Canada to produce terminal (TAF) and area (GFA) forecasts as well as put out SIGMETs, AIRMETs, Sigwx and Local Graphical Forecasts. Forecasters work at the Canadian Meteorological Aviation Centre, which has its two offices located in Edmonton and Montreal. The Edmonton office writes forecasts for western Canada and the arctic, while the Montreal office produces forecasts for central and eastern Canada and the North Atlantic. At any given time the two offices have a total of 10-12 forecasters on duty, with fewer at night, when some airports do not have TAFs written for them.
The regulations that govern forecast writing include CAR 804.01 which specifies that forecasts shall be written to the standards of the Manual of Standards and Procedures for Aviation Weather Forecasts (MANAIR).
There are currently 189 civil airport locations for which TAFs are written, plus 15 military and two other locations. TAFs are required to be under constant review against the actual weather observations to see if the TAF needs amending.
Jamieson explained the process by which a forecaster writes a TAF. In general this requires assessing and diagnosing the causes of the existing weather conditions and then extrapolating these, writing the forecast from the existing weather conditions, plus the Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) model predictions. The Canadian NWP is one of many weather models available, but is optimized for Canadian latitudes and conditions. Presently it allows 1 kilometre resolution. Climatology data is also useful in writing forecasts as it shows the probability of conditions forming and persisting, based on what it usually has done in the past in that location. When written, the new forecast has to also be consistent with other forecasts for that area and bordering areas.
Jamieson went onto explain the "Forecast Funnel", the process of starting with the broadest look at large area weather and then focusing it down to the TAF area around the airport. This is done at three levels: hemispheric, synoptic and meso scales. At the hemispheric level the forecaster looks at large scale effects, like the jet stream location and strength, using tools like the pressure charts compiled from balloon soundings and jet aircraft automatic reporting about the upper atmosphere. At the synoptic level they consider medium scale factors, like the location of highs and lows. Finally at the meso scale level they look at tools like weather radar, lightning, METARs and the NWP model predictions. Sometimes "ensemble forecasting" is employed, using multiple models or one model with differing starting conditions. Information from both Canadian and US weather radar can be used in border areas, although with its 5.5 cm wavelength the Canadian radar is more effective in showing mixed precipitation, while the US 10 cm radar shows thunderstorm development better.
At the present time TAFs are fully hand written, but there is work being done to automate TAF production, which will free up forecasters to spend more time on severe weather instead.
TAFs are assessed for their accuracy, using performance measurement statistics. These automatic reports provide feedback to the forecaster based on ceiling and visibility, although wind direction and speed is in the process of being added. The tool calculates reliability indices and false alarm rates, which forecasters can then use to improve their accuracy.
Graphical Area Forecasts (GFAs) are written every six hours and consist of six panels, three for clouds and weather and three for icing and turbulence panels. At the present there is no means to assess the accuracy of the GFA, largely due to the graphical nature of the forecast.
Jamieson concluded his presentation with a look at changes coming to the SIGMET and AIRMET formats which will bring Canadian use in line with ICAO standards. ICAO identified in that Canada was not complying with its standards and recommended practices. In EC, along with TC and Nav Canada agreed to start using the ICAO format by .
The AIRMET and SIGMET changes will result in using the same format for both reports, as ICAO does. It will also change the areas covered to use Flight Information Regions (FIRs), in place of the current GFA boundaries used. The text order will also change, putting the affected area further down the report, although all the existing details will be retained. Included text will still link the reports to the associated GFA. The new format will provide locations of interest in both lat/long and bearing and distance from aerodromes, which is more useful to aircraft in flight.
Between now and the new AIRMET and SIGMET formatting will be publicized in COPA Flight as well as in the AIM and through the issue of AICs as well. TC will will make changes to the pilot training program and EC will amend MANAIR to complete the documentary requirements.
The October meeting of Flight 8 was unusual in that it was a double-header, two meetings for the price of one!
Changes to the ICAO Flight Plan
We started with a short presentation from Dave Rose, Manager, ATS System Implementation at Nav Canada. He gave us a brief rundown on the changes to the ICAO flight plan that are coming into effect worldwide on .
Known as "Flight Plan 2012", ICAO made these changes to primarily update codes used to identify aircraft navigation equipment, which have changed dramatically in recent years. Gone are the codes for old navaids no longer used and many new ones have been introduced. Rose joked that they have at last removed "radio range" from the list of navaids. These changes have been in the making for the past seven years, but while many codes have been changed, the actual flight plan form remains the same.
Aside from navaid changes, other alterations include minor changes to the aircraft identification and type of flight sections. The new ICAO standards allow filing flight plans up to seven days in advance, but both the US and Canada have filed differences with ICAO and will continue to allow flight plans to be filed only 24 hours in advance.
Nav Canada actually fielded the Flight Plan 2012 changes in advance of the ICAO implementation date, in , so pilots could get used to them by using them optionally for domestic and trans-border flights to the US.
The second presentation at the October Flight 8 meeting was a briefing on the Ottawa Airport Watch program, given by Airport Watch Chairman Nelson Plamondon. He started off by explaining that the organization is primarily a crime-prevention program, similar to the nation-wide neighbourhood watch programs. The Ottawa Airport Watch differs only by using plane spotters to do the surveillance work thus extending the eyes of airport security beyond the perimeter fence.
Plamondon joined the RCAF in as a military policeman and, while posted to Comox, caught the aviation bug while serving as a SAR spotter on the Grumman Albatross flying boats based there. He later became a senior investigator for what is now the Canada Border Services Agency. After retiring he became involved in plane spotting.
Plane spotting is a hobby that involves watching aircraft and recording aircraft types, airlines, registrations and other details. The hobby attracts serious aircraft and radio enthusiasts, photographers, as well as casual participants and families out to look at the planes. There are national organizations and through the internet, many plane spotters are connected to others in other cities. Some plane spotters take long trips to other airports to spot rare aircraft there. They know a lot about what goes on at airports and since they were there anyway outside the perimeter fence it seemed great idea to engage them in keeping an eye out for suspicious activities. As Plamondon stated, "their knowledge is not to be underestimated."
Airport Watch started at Ottawa International Airport when the airport policing services and the plane spotters combined forces in . While plane spotting, the members of the watch keep an eye out for criminal and terrorist activities. In particular they look for people acting suspiciously, people with firearms, insecure gates and fences, aircraft having problems on the field and even wildlife incursions. Plamondon pointed out that incidents involving mental health issues are on the rise, too. Airport Watch members receive special training in their duties, learning what to look for and how to report it. Their role is strictly "observe, record and report" and they do not intervene in suspicious activity, leaving that role to the airport police detachment.
The group is also active inside the public areas of the airport terminal building, keeping an eye on what is going on and acting as extra eyes for the police force there.
In addition to training, Airport Watch members get identification cards, uniforms and vehicle door magnetic signs. Plamondon indicated that the airport authority supplies these and considers their deterrent value worthwhile. Members require police background checks to join. They also participate in Police Week activities and are eligible for awards for reporting things that they see. The forty members of the Ottawa Airport Watch get logged on and off duty by the Commissionaires and this means that their volunteer hours are recorded.
The Ottawa Airport Watch has the enthusiastic backing of the Ottawa Airport Authority and also the Ottawa Police Service.
Since the program was started in Ottawa it has spread around the country and also around the world. Montreal has an Airport Watch program that covers several different airports. The group in Toronto has over 140 members who put in over 10,000 volunteer hours per year. There are similar groups in the UK, Australia and across the United States, too. All of these are based on the Ottawa model of how to set up and run an Airport Watch program.
COPA Flight 8 was fortunate enough to have a Transport Canada Safety Seminar for our meeting, presented by two Civil Aviation Safety Inspectors from the Ottawa Transport Canada Centre, Claude Hurley and Oonagh Elliott. The seminar was held in the new theatre at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.
Elliott is a long time Ottawa inspector and has served the area in the past as an enforcement inspector. With TC reorganization she is now with general aviation, but as she noted, she still has the same cubicle at the TCC on Camelot Drive. Hurley is newer at TC, having come from the commercial off-shore helicopter world two years ago and before that the Canadian Forces. He is now the Technical Team Lead, Flight Operations at the TCC.
The presentation started with a review of the CARs requirements for recency training. These include that pilots have "successfully completed a recurrent training program" in the last 24 months and attendance at a safety seminar, such as this one, counts for that requirement. This was probably one factor in the large turnout of area pilots that evening.
Hurley and Elliott then lead the group though a bush survival exercise, where they handed out cards that had pictures of items that you might have with you in an aircraft. They then asked the participants to think about keeping or trading the cards to improve survival odds in the summer bush. This got people thinking about what they have in their aircraft and what they should have, even in the summertime.
Next in the fast-paced presentation was a look at CAIRS, the new Civil Aviation Issues Reporting System that provides a means for raising industry-wide issues that TC needs to address. The new Civil Aviation Services Ontario (CASO) services were also highlighted that allow members of the aviation community and the public to quickly direct questions and complaints to the right place.
A review of aviation licensing requirements followed, including a reminder that the old paper licences have expired and that if you don't have a new "booklet" style licence then you don't have a valid licence. Due to processing time it was pointed out that document holders need to keep track of their expiry date and ensure that they apply for renewal at least 90 days in advance. Document holders were also reminded to put their ratings and other validation stickers in the booklet.
Because aerodrome circuit entry and exit procedures have been identified as a recent safety issue, especially in the Ottawa area, it was to this subject that the presentation turned next. This discussion included Mandatory Frequency (MF) areas versus Aerodrome Traffic Frequency (ATF) areas and in particular the close proximity of one of each of these at Rockcliffe and Gatineau airports. The emphasis was on entering and exiting the circuit without traffic conflicts and with whom to communicate and when.
The three very small restricted areas in the Ottawa area, at Parliament Hill, Rideau Hall and the DND facility at Dwyer Hill have had a large number of airspace violations. Elliott noted that a review of recent CADORS showed 41 Class D Terminal Area airspace incursions, nine Class C control zone incursions and 48 incursions into the three restricted areas. Some time was spent reviewing the maps of these restricted areas and how to identify them on the ground so that they can be avoided.
Landings were the last subject of the evening. Elliott noted that Ontario Region in saw 53% of all aircraft accidents occur in the landing phase and, of those, half were assessed as having lack-of-skill causes. There was discussion about how the COPA survey shows that in the past five years the median annual time being flown has dropped from 40 hours to just 27 hours, which might start to explain the high number of lack-of-skill landing accidents. Hurley and Elliott emphasized the need to plan landings carefully to not exceed aircraft or pilot limits. This includes considering field conditions, including crosswinds, rehearse the landing sequence, have an escape plan in case things go badly and then afterwards to debrief yourself, or reflect on how you did, and see how it could be done better next landing. As always the accepted wisdom is that good landings are a product of good, stabilized approaches, with accurate speed control and touchdown occurring on the runway centre-line.
COPA Flight 8 would like to thank Claude Hurley and Oonagh Elliott for taking time to present the safety seminar to our members. The flight hopes to do another safety presentation within two years, to comply with TC's recency requirements.
Aerobatics instructor Jonathan Rotondo and his student Jean-Pierre Seguin outlined the course of instruction taught at Rockcliffe Flying Club in their Super Decathlon C-GKXD.
Jean-Pierre started by telling us that for roughly 40 years he had been turned off aerobatics by one of his first airplane rides, before he got his license. The pilot failed to pay attention to how his young passenger was feeling while doing a series of mild aerobatic manoeuvres. Jean-Pierre was turning green and was sick upon landing. Later when he got his pilot's licence he avoided aerobatics thinking his stomach would not take it. He was wrong and missed out on many years of loops and rolls because of his first experience. Last year he took Jonathan's 10 hour aerobatics course and with the help of a bit of raw ginger and he has toughened his stomach and now has no problems with aerobatics. He has since explored the basics in an Extra 330 and a Harvard while on trips to the USA.
Jonathan took us through his course in a video of with an 8 year old passenger. The passenger smiled all the way around loops and rolls with several "Wows" clearly read off his moving lips. As one might expect safety is of primary importance, so all training is done above a floor of 4000 feet above sea level in Ottawa's practice areas, north or west of Rockcliffe. Most manoeuvres start at 6000 feet above sea level. He answered many questions and several attendees seemed quite interested in trying some aerobatics. He explained that he is licensed to take passengers as well as teach aerobatics. In fact, once one has completed the course taking a friend along for some aerobatics is quite legal. In Canada you don't even need a parachute.
The emphasis of the course is on mastering loops and rolls since they are components in most aerobatic manoeuvres. We saw them in videos of Jean-Pierre in the Harvard and Jonathan in the Extra 330. He says the Extra is more like a video game than an airplane.
We also inspected the Super Decathlon and Jean-Pierre help some folks strap it on. Apparently one needs is strapped on quite tightly before doing aerobatics.
COPA Flight 8's May meeting took place on a perfect spring evening in Rockcliffe, home of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. The members of Flight 8 met up with the volunteers of Project North Star for a short briefing and a tour of the ambitious restoration project.
Moving to the small Bush Theatre in the back of the museum, we were briefed by Project President Richard Lodge, a retired English gentleman. Lodge says that his professional involvement with aircraft was limited to duties as an accountant at Rolls Royce's aero engine division, but in retirement he has found himself deeply caught up in the North Star tale. Lodge introduced other members of the volunteer team: Bruce Gemmill, the airframe specialist; Garry Dupont, project lead for the engines; Peter Trowbridge, whom Lodge described as the "jack-of-all-trades" and Austin "Tim" Timmins, who actually served as a navigator with 426 Squadron on North Stars between -.
The North Star story started in the post war period, when Trans Canada Airways needed a new transoceanic airliner. The company decided that they wanted a DC-4 with Merlin engines and Canadair was formed from the remnants of wartime contractors to build the new plane. During the war Douglas Aircraft had built the military version of the DC-4, designated as the C-54, at Cartierville and so it seemed a natural fit to form the new manufacturing concern there to take advantage of the local trained labour and the profusion of DC-4 parts available.
The North Star design combined the DC-4 fuselage with wings that owed their heritage to the DC-6, plus four revered V-12 Merlin engines, which were available in great numbers then as war surplus. Re-engineered for the Canadian climate, the North Star even had a fuel to oil dilution system that allowed starting the engines more easily in cold weather conditions, along with three Janitrol combustion heaters for the cockpit and passenger cabin. The Merlins gave the aircraft better range, along with a higher ceiling and more speed than the radial engines used on the DC-4. The engines have two-stage superchargers with clutches, intercoolers and even an after-heater for low throttle descents. The supercharger boost settings are all automatic. The propellers are electrically-operated.
The North Star had its first flight on and entered service shortly thereafter. The civil versions were pressurized, while those built for the RCAF were not. The RCAF received 24 examples, designated Canadair C-54GM North Star 1 ST, British Overseas Airways Corporation took 22, Trans Canada Airways bought 20 and Canadian Pacific had four. In addition one radial engined VIP transport was delivered to the RCAF and designated C-5. Total production was 71 of all models.
In service the aircraft was reliable, but the cabin was very noisy. The short stack exhaust Merlins earned the aircraft its nickname, the Noisy Star. TCA developed a cross-over exhaust system to try to take the noise away from the cabin, but the RCAF never adopted the modifications. Timmins admitted that his hearing aids were probably a left over from his North Star flying days.
The RCAF North Stars were done in service in , replaced by the newer turboprop Convair CC-109 Cosmopolitans.
North Star serial number 17515 was built in for the RCAF and flew with 426 Squadron, Trenton until . It was flown on UN missions and in support of the Korean War airlift, Operation Hawk. After 426 Squadron was disbanded 17515 continued to fly for a few more years. It was transferred to the National Aeronautical Collection in Rockcliffe (now the Canada Aviation and Space Museum) in . Lacking adequate indoor storage facilities the aircraft sat outside, neglected, until the new storage wing was constructed. In those years sitting outside the aircraft became a home for many birds and picked up a lot of corrosion among other forms of deterioration.
Lacking the manpower or the money to restore the aircraft, a new experiment, that became Project North Star, began at the museum in . This involved forming a group of volunteers to do the work under museum supervision. Now some eight years into it the volunteers have put in about 40,000 hours, although much work is left to be done. The aim is to preserve the aircraft from corrosion, conserve the original parts as far as possible and restore the rest. When finished the North Star will be strictly a museum display piece, restoring it to flying condition being prohibitively expensive.
The rest of the fleet are long gone and North Star serial number 17515 is the last remaining aircraft of its type, a unique piece of Canadian aviation history.
I asked Richard Lodge when the North Star would be done. He indicated that if I asked every volunteer I would get a different answer from each. He thought another ten years would be a good guess at the current pace.
Project North Star actually has as many volunteers as they can employ right now, but, like all charities, additional funds are very welcome, as museum resources are very limited.
COPA Flight 8 invited Rob Bishop, Senior Pilot Specialist with Nav Canada to come and brief us on airspace and other recent and coming up changes in our area of the country, southern Ontario.
Bishop's briefing was quite extensive and included Windsor-Toronto-Montreal (WTM) Review, Ottawa area airspace changes, navaids, RCO Redesign, Weather Systems (AWOS/LWIS/Wx Cam), ADS-B in Canada, E-Pubs and Internet Flight Plans. A lot to cover in about 90 minutes! The subject is obviously of interest to local pilots as Flight 8 members almost to filled the Ottawa Flying Club's upper lounge to capacity.
After a quick general outline of what Nav Canada is, Bishop launched into the WTM Airspace Review. On a series of maps he showed the identified problems and the arrived-at solutions that were implemented on .
The highly congested southern Ontario airspace suffered from a very complex collection of airspace classifications and altitudes. The company has now simplified these while attempting to accommodate VFR traffic in this busy IFR-traffic area, mostly with vertical separation. The southern part of the area now has a controlled airspace floor at 2500 feet ASL and 3500 feet ASL in the northern area, eliminating all use of AGL based airspace.
The airspace around Toronto saw specific changes to allow more organized training areas under the controlled airspace in every direction from Toronto, except over Lake Ontario. Dedicated, but non-mandatory, frequencies were allocated for air-to-air communication for traffic separation.
Adjustments were also made to Toronto City Centre's and Buttonville's control zones so that they now butt up against each other. Brampton's terminal area cut-out was enlarged.
These and other changes to both VFR and IFR traffic procedures will result in an annual reduction of 14,300 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, save $4.3 million in fuel costs and reduce cumulative flight time by over 10 hours a day.
Nav Canada determined that more than 98% of all IFR traffic operating in the corridor have RNAV capabilities, meaning equipped with IFR GPS or DME/DME/INS equipment. This allowed a great deal of streamlining in IFR routing away from traditional navaids, like VOR and NDBs. The company was able to create new RNAV STAR procedures at CYOW, CYUL and CYYZ and new RNAV SID procedures at CYYZ, while also making changes to the Canadian Flight Supplement (CFS) preferential routes for both the Toronto and Montreal FIRs. It also allowed doing away with the conventional STAR procedures at CYOW and CYUL, as well as some old VHF airways between Toronto and Quebec City. Aircraft without IFR RNAV can still be accommodated using traditional NDB and VOR navaids.
These changes all resulted in some new aviation language. Introduced recently are Q-routes (high level, controlled, RNAV routes), T-routes (low-level, controlled, RNAV routes) and L-routes (low-level, uncontrolled, fixed RNAV routes).
Nav Canada has also launched a new website called On Board to keep pilots updated on airspace, procedures andnavaid changes.
In the Ottawa area Bishop covered changes to the downtown restricted areas, CYR537 Parliament Hill and CYR538 Rideau Hall. These have grown from a cap of 1500 feet to 3000 feet and from 0.25 nm to 0.35 nm in radius and belong to the RCMP.
Ottawa International will be getting a new ILS installation this summer, replacing an older unit on Runway 07. By the time this is done CYOW will have LPV approaches for all four IFR runways.
Nav Canada still has a lot of aging NDB transmitters out in the countryside and wants to slowly take them out of service as their lifespans expire. These removals represent a reduction in service and as such require formal aeronautical studies. The company currently has 333 NDBs, made up of 13 different models dating from to and originally built by Nautel Ltd of Hackett's Cove, Nova Scotia. Each one costs between $80,000 to $300,000 to replace, depending on the location. In many cases the towers are much older than the transmitters, some dating from the s and some of the towers, being steel, are rusting out.
Bishop next talked about the RCO Redesign Project. This project aims to get Flight Service Station routine traffic off 126.7 MHz and onto discrete frequencies. This has many advantages, including much less frequency congestion, but at a cost of needing 760 channel VHF radios. 126.7 MHz will still be used, but for enroute traffic to provide each other with position reports and also for broadcast safety messages. Due to changing technology the project does away with most dial-up RCOs and even allows some new "gap-closer" RCOs to be added to give better coverage and fewer dead spaces at low altitude.
Bishop presented a list of Weather Camera (Wx Cam) sites. These continue to expand over time allowing pilots an extra simple visual look at the weather through internet webcams from many southern Ontario locations.
ADS-B has been a hot topic in the USA as the FAA there works on rolling out their ADS-B based NextGen ATC system. In this country Nav Canada has taken a "go-slow" approach, waiting until the technology is more mature and better developed. Right now ADS-B is used in the area around Hudson Bay and southern Greenland as a radar gap-filler. The company may expand its use in northwestern and off-shore eastern Canada over time, but has no plans to incorporate weather data and other advanced features for now.
On the publications front Nav Canada is moving forward on making a complete set of digital publications available, including a Canada Flight Supplement that will probably be divided into sections and sold separately. Tied to this issue are new deals with ForeFlight and FltPlan.com to expand Canadian digital pubs. Currently the Canada Air Pilot and Enroute and terminal charts have been provided and VFR charts should follow this summer. Other vendors are interested and discussions are ongoing.
The company recently rolled out its new flight planning website. This new service provides more flexibility for pilots to file and manage flight plans over the old system. It was written in the open source Python programming language and it runs all on Red Hat Linux!
Flight 8 members didn't let Bishop off lightly and his presentation was punctuated by lots of pointed questions and discussion. Bishop took it all in stride and seemed to enjoy the lively environment. He described it as a "warm reception and enjoyable evening".
Flight 8 would like to thank Bishop for coming out on a Wednesday evening and taking the time to brief us all on these technical subjects. By the turnout and the reception it is clear that we should plan to do a similar briefing again in the future.
For our meeting COPA Flight 8 Captain Mike Shaw invited Richard Hall, the chair and CEO of the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada (TATC) to come and speak to the group.
The TATC plays a very important role in aviation in Canada, as it is the body that hears appeals of infractions of the CARs that are laid by Transport Canada.
Hall started his presentation by explaining what the TATC is and how it works. It started life in as the Civil Aviation Tribunal, dealing only with aviation appeals. Later it became "multi-modal", dealing with marine appeals and soon railway appeals as well.
The TATC is a quasi-judicial body established under its own act of parliament, the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act. It conducts reviews and appeals for aviation, marine and railway document holders and its jurisdiction also includes international bridges and tunnels. The TATC's guiding principles are "a commitment to openness and cooperation". Its mandate requires it to conduct informal, expeditious and fair hearings. The tribunal can review administrative and enforcement actions of the Minister of Transport, railway safety inspectors and the Canadian Transportation Agency under a number of federal transportation acts and regulations, including the Aeronautics Act and the CARs, Canada Marine Act, the Canada Shipping Act, , Canada Transportation Act, International Bridges and Tunnels Act, Marine Transportation Security Act and related regulations, and the Railway Safety Act.
Hall emphasized "essentially, it is the TATC’s mandate to ensure that the charges laid by Transport Canada are supported by evidence, and that the individuals charged have the opportunity to have their cases heard in a fair and impartial setting."
The TATC can review enforcement and licensing decisions. These include orders, monetary penalties and the suspension, cancellation, refusal to renew, or the refusal to issue or amend "documents of entitlement", such as licences and medical certificates.
The TATC is headquartered in Ottawa and currently has 27 part-time members who conduct hearings and render decisions on the cases that are presented to them. These are federal government appointments, usually for three years, made by the Governor in Council.
The TATC conducts two levels of hearings. The first level is a review hearing, which is conducted by one member. The decision of a review hearing may be appealing to an appeal hearing, which is heard by a panel of three members, usually headed by the chair. There are further appeal levels available at the Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal and ultimately the Supreme Court of Canada.
TATC hearings are usually held at the location that the alleged offence took place, or as near to it as possible, so as to provide the most convenience to the person making the appeal and also for the convenience of witnesses. Hall recounted one case heard in a remote area that required him to travel there by canoe. Medical appeals are normally heard near where the person lives, again for convenience.
While someone making an appeal can bring a lawyer to a TATC hearing it is not required, as the procedures are intended to be informal and designed to allow the person filing the appeal to represent themselves.
Hall described an example case in which a US air carrier was picking up VIP passengers in Canada and taking them to a US casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, under contract to the casino. In this complex case the company was originally fined $25,000 by the Canadian Transportation Agency for running ten flights across the border as an unlicenced charter airline. The company claimed that these were private flights and not a commercial air service. The case hung on the question "What is a 'publicly available' air service within the meaning of air service as defined in section 56 of the Canada Transportation Act?" At the single TATC member review hearing the case was found for the company, as the TATC member applied the test "could a member of the public book a flight?" and decided not. The case went to an appeal hearing where the review decision was overturned. Hall explained, "although the Appeal Panel found that the Tribunal had jurisdiction to determine the meaning of the term 'publicly available', it had exceeded its jurisdiction by creating a test that was inconsistent with the principles of statutory interpretation and the intent and purpose of the CTA. Nonetheless, even if it applied the faulty test to the facts at hand, the Appeal Panel would find [the company] was operating a "publicly available" service." The TATC review did however reduce the fine from $25,000 to $12,500.
Hall finished his presentation with a look at some TATC statistics showing how many cases they handle and of what type. In the fiscal year -, TATC handled 293 cases. With more marine, and soon railway cases to deal with, the TATC needs more members to keep up with the work load.
The TATC is currently recruiting new members. Applicants should have a strong background in aviation, rail or marine operations and have legal or medical qualifications as well. Hall is especially interested in recruiting more physicians to hear medical cases. Interested applicants can contact TATC directly and they will explain the application and appointment process.
For our February meeting COPA Flight 8 Captain Mike Shaw invited John Nicol to speak about Prepar3d. No that isn't a typo, it is pronounced "prepared", but spelled with a "3D" in it. Its a trademark thing.
Nicol is well qualified to speak on the subject of this aircraft simulation program, as he is the Principle Engineer and Ecosystem Manager for Lockheed Martin (L-M), the developer of the product.
Nicol actually lives in the Ottawa area and telecommutes to work with L-M's Global Training and Logistics Division. He is a student pilot as well, currently working on his private pilot licence, which he hopes to have finished by .
Nicol's presentation about Prepar3d was in two parts. He started with some background via a slide presentation and then moved onto a live demonstration of the simulation program running on his laptop computer.
He started by indicating that Prepar3d costs $499 per licence, but that there are special prices for developers, $9.95 per month for two licences. L-M will soon have special prices for students and educational institutions as well. There is also a free software developer kit. He indicated that as an engineer, he doesn't set the pricing, but he wanted give the pricing up front before getting into the application's capabilities.
Nicol describes Prepar3d as a PC-based, scalable, simulation framework. The program is about 10 GB in size and runs on 32-bits. A 64-bit version is a future project. It runs on Windows, but has been run on Mac OSX though WINE. L-M didn't develop Prepar3d from scratch, they purchased the source code from Microsoft in , where it had been the commercial version of Microsoft Flight Simulator 10, called "ESP". From there Nicol and his team have expanded the program's scope and capabilities.
Some of the development completed has expanded the range of vehicles and environments. Prepar3d started as an aircraft simulator, but today can provide simulation for a wide range of vehicles, including hovercraft, ships, submersibles and armoured fighting vehicles. The program is also not just a single user application, but can be used for distributed and on-line training sessions and mission simulation, to allow crew, team and aircraft formation training.
The program actually has a long history that goes back well beyond Microsoft, who also bought the code-base. It started life at a company called Sub-Logic who commenced work on it in , designing it for the Altair 8080 mini-computer. The FS1 version ran on the Apple II. In it was licenced to Microsoft, a personal interest of Bill Gates himself. As noted the Microsoft commercial version was called "ESP", an abbreviation that didn't stand for anything in particular, Nicol points out. L-M bought the project in and put out their first version under the Prepar3d name in .
Today the application has grown to include more than 24,900 airports, plus navaids, landmarks and cities around the world. Prepar3d can simulate not just many aircraft types and missions, but also submersibles and other types of submarines. It simulates differing sea states and water effects, including visual refraction and reflection. It includes weapons systems such as tanks and can simulate the effects of weapons on structures and terrain. Prepar3d also can simulate most weather conditions and seasons. One unique aspect Nicol demonstrated was its use of five seasons, an L-M invention, he indicated. The five seasons are spring, summer, autumn, winter and hard winter. In this case "winter" means the sort of winter that they have in San Francisco, rain and fog. "Hard winter" refers to the sort of winter you would find in Edmonton. The program also includes humans in the scene, as well as other animals, when appropriate. The underwater scenarios include dolphins and fish, too. Nicol demonstrated these and they are quite realistic. The development team is still working on making the trees more realistic, as they inherited 2D "cross-shaped" trees.
The application supports 100 channels so that more than one image generator, such as a video card, can be used. Since each generator can support 6 monitors, that means that Prepar3d can theoretically support 600 monitors. The cockpit designer would just have to figure how how to arrange them for the users to see.
L-M also encourages third party developers to create scenes and other plug-ins, such as ATC, flight planning tools, new aircraft models and more. At present Prepar3d is compatible with Microsoft Flight Simulator 10, so most third party FS10 add-ons will work with Prepar3d as well. Retaining the compatibility with FS10 means that Prepar3d users have access to a huge number of third party options.
Nicol finished his presentation with a demonstration of a Robinson R-22 helicopter simulation and then a submarine demo. Both worked very well and showed that the application has grown beyond its roots as a game into serious simulation where pilots can learn useful skills, like formation flying, or pre-fly routes in advance, at a good level of realism.
Flight 8 would like to thank John Nicol for coming to our meeting and explaining Prepar3d. We would also like to wish him "good weather" this spring so he can finish his PPL!
COPA Flight 8 Ottawa started off the New Year with a presentation by Alfio Ferrara on how he uses the ever proliferating number of handheld electronic devices available to fly with. Ferrara not only uses some interesting devices, but he makes them work in the restricted real estate of his Van's RV-9A cockpit.
Ferrara's presentation to Flight 8 focused on the use of the Apple iPad, portable GPS, handheld VHF comm radio, APRS and PLB, cell phones and ANR headsets. His theme in all cases was how to get and use these devices effectively, without spending a lot of money on them.
The iPad got the bulk of the presentation time. These have become very popular in cockpits in recent years, because they are convenient and can be used for multiple tasks. Ferrara picked up a second-hand, first generation iPad on Kijiji for $540. These are easy to find as many people want the latest version and are selling their earlier ones. His model came with 3G and GPS built in and with 32 GB of memory. Ferrara added that the sunlight readability is acceptable if a matte screen protector is employed, an important factor when flying an aircraft with a canopy, like the RV-9A.
Ferrara pointed out that the iPad is a flexible device. Not only can it be used to aid navigation, display maps and airport directories, but on the ground most airport restaurants have wifi available allowing the pilot to check e-mail, get weather briefings and file flight plans, as well as file EAPIS for US border crossing. He also noted that when you are stuck due to weather you can always play games on the iPad too, just to wile away the hours.
Ferrara uses ForeFlight software on the iPad, which currently costs $75 per year and includes monthly map updates and airport directories for the USA. He notes that the price will go up as the FAA plans to start charging for data soon. Ferrara mentioned that ForeFlight is actually a good deal as, for example, their trip to Sun 'n Fun would have required over $200 in maps and publications for VFR flying and would have expired not long after the trip. The iPad is also an easier way to handle maps, better than trying to fold the large paper sheets enroute.
ForeFlight gets high marks from Ferrara, as he finds it easier to use than paper publications and cheaper as well. ForeFlight even provides information the official charts lack, like hotel and rental car data. It can also save and recall weather information downloaded at the last stop, although in-flight updating is not available at the present.
The iPad eliminates the need to carry a laptop on trips, too, which saves some weight.
The unit does have some drawbacks, however. Ferrara mentioned that electronic devices can fail and that has to be accounted for. Back-ups could take the form of old paper charts, an iPhone (with ForeFlight) and a DC charger for cockpit use.
The iPad can be challenging to use in turbulence, even though Ferrara has it mounted on a RAM mount on the passenger side which ensures it doesn't become a cockpit missile. Even so the unit takes up cockpit space and that can be a challenge in the small side-by-side RV-9A. It could be impossible in an RV-4 though, for instance.
Another service Ferrara uses on the iPad is SkyCharts Pro. This is $20 year right now, but again may go up as the FAA starts charging for data in the near future. While it offers only very basic flight planning it does give more chart information than ForeFlight, including map margin information.
The biggest drawbacks currently to all the electronic charting services is that they provide US maps only as Nav Canada still does not currently offer electronic charts and is unlikely to offer them for free or even inexpensively in the future.
Ferrara moved on to discuss cell phones. These are used for emergencies, but also for getting weather briefings, opening and closing flight plans and calling customs. They also allow family and friends to contact you when flying on extended trips. One of the main challenges is cell phone incompatibilities between the USA and Canada. Ferrara doesn't use his cell phone for yakking endlessly, so he finds that a cheap second hand phone, with a Petro-Canada pay-as-you-go card provides the best value while in Canada, especially since cell phone service is so expensive in Canada compared to most other countries.
Because pay-as-you-go plans do not typically include US cell phone service, or if they do are very expensive, Ferrara has a second used cell phone he got on eBay for use in the USA, also using pay-as-you-go cards, this time with Verizon. Because the US phone can be used in Canada, albeit at a high rate of 65 cents per minute, he keeps it as an emergency back-up phone for use in Canada as well.
In total Ferrara spends about $130-150 per year on cell phone costs for both Canadian and American coverage.
Ferrara keeps a handheld VHF comm radio as a back-up for his panel-mounted unit. He sums it up as "poor range, awkward, but better than nothing".
His RV-9A still has an older 121.5 MHz ELT, which is legal, but may not be the best way to summon help in . To back it up he carries a 406 MHz Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). The PLB is really designed for use by hikers, so it is similar to an ELT, but without g-switch automatic activation, meaning that you have to turn it on manually. He notes that it is light, small, waterproof and cost $325 two years ago. It has no inspections to pay for and no fees. The batteries are good for five years, too. In a ditching situation, when the aircraft's ELT ends up underwater in the sinking plane, the PLB can be carried in your pocket and used to summon help.
Ferrara did mention that when registering the PLB on-line it is important to indicate that it will be used on an aircraft and to provide suitable contact phone numbers.
Moving onto the subject of GPS, Ferrara stated that he carries three of these devices. He has one in the iPad, an older, portable one he keeps as a back-up and his main GPS, an Avmap normally-portable unit that is mounted in the panel of his homebuilt airplane.
Ferrara's last item was noise attenuating headsets. He owns a pair of older David Clarks, but used kits from Headsets Inc to modify these to become active noise reduction headsets. This does involve removing a good deal of the insulation, meaning that the active noise reduction needs to be on or they don't give much sound protection. At $169 to modify each headset Ferrara indicates that these give very good results and are far cheaper than the current crop of ANRS headsets, which can run well over $1000 each.
Ferrara concluded his presentation by showing how all the devices work to provide greater safety when flying. He also pointed out how by buying used devices you can save a lot of money over new, leaving more money for actual flying.
COPA Flight 8 would like to thank Alfio Ferrara for putting together this thoughtful and comprehensive look at one good way to use hand held devices in flying.
COPA Flight 8 doesn't usually hold a December meeting, as our usual time-slot of the fourth Wednesday of each month normally falls in the middle of Christmas holidays, but this year we made an exception. We held a meeting at the Rockcliffe Flying Club, but earlier in the month, on Thursday 15 December.
The impetus for the special meeting was that Rick Beach was in town to visit family members and offered to make a presentation to Flight 8 during his time in Ottawa. Beach is actually a displaced Canadian who grew up in Ottawa, taught computing at the University of Waterloo and then moved to California's Silicon Valley to run a lab there for Xerox when the internet was a new phenomena. Ten years ago he learned to fly and bought one of the first Cirrus SR22s, serial number 127. He became involved with the aircraft type club, the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association, with a particular focus on safety and accident prevention. Beach is now retired from the IT world and still lives in California, flies his Cirrus and presents twelve Cirrus Pilot Proficiency Programs in the US, Europe and Australia every year. It was his Cirrus safety presentation, that he calls "So, How's that Cirrus Parachute Thing Working Out?", that he brought to Ottawa.
Beach notes that the Cirrus aircraft line introduced a number of innovations that should have reduced accidents. Every Cirrus SR-series aircraft delivered has a ballistic parachute system, a GPS navigator, an autopilot and multifunction display. He notes that while these should have reduced the accident rate, the statistics show that they haven't and the Cirrus series has accidents rates on par with other comparable aircraft. This means that the systems are not doing what they were intended to and he indicates that, while there are some trends, there are no clear answers why not. Certainly the GPS has made for more accurate accidents as pilots tend to hit the highest point of terrain on their routes. On board weather information has lead to continued VFR flight into IMC weather and scud-running accidents. But it is the use of the Cirrus Airframe Ballistic Parachute System (CAPS), that most concerns him, as a large number of fatal accidents could have had better outcomes, except that the parachute was not used. It was the use of the parachute that formed the main focus of Beach's presentation.
Beach explained how the CAPS works. The unit is located aft of the cabin and is fired by a rocket up and back from the aircraft. It is activated by a handle located on the ceiling of the cabin, in a position where it can be easily reached by all four seat occupants. It is cable-activated and takes about 40 lbs of pull to fire the rocket. Once fired the rocket deploys the parachute to full line stretch and then a shroud line slider ensures a smooth opening of the parachute in eight seconds from firing. The Cirrus certification testing was with a nominal 133 knot activation speed. The CAPS will stabilize an aircraft under canopy with a 1700 fpm descent rate. The loss of altitude when fired in a spin is 920 feet and in level flight 400 feet.
In service, the CAPS has been successfully used in the range from 34 to 187 knots and from 50 to 13,000 feet of altitude. This shows that it will work well both well above and below the certification testing parameters. There have also been failures that show when it won't work. One deployment at close to 300 knots resulted in the parachute tearing off the airframe. In another case, with the aircraft in a spin, the CAPS was fired at 528 feet above ground and the pilot did not survive the impact.
There have been 103 fatalities in fatal Cirrus accidents in scenarios similar to when other pilots had successfully used CAPS. Beach notes that there have been no fatalities when the CAPS had been used within its design parameters. His own analysis of these accidents where the CAPS was not used indicate that 33 probably had little chance of survival even if the CAPS had been used, but that 26 would have had a "good chance" and 25 would have had a "great chance" if they had used it.
So why do pilots not use the CAPS when they need it? Beach theorizes that there are probably at least six reasons. Some pilots just don't believe in parachutes, preferring to try to save the aircraft through piloting skills instead. Others don't want to lose control and risk hitting people on the ground. He feels that some instructors are not doing a good job teaching pilots how and when to use the parachute, probably due to their own belief in parachutes or lack of experience. There is also the primacy effect of training, in that most pilots learn to fly in non-parachute equipped aircraft and when in a difficult situation follow their early training. A fear response might also cause some pilots to freeze up and fail to take any action in an emergency, including firing the CAPS. Finally there is the concern that some pilots will try to save the aircraft by trying to recover from a loss of control rather than firing the CAPS, because they know that a landing under CAPS most usually results in a write-off of the airframe.
Beach points out that the fear of damaging the aircraft with a parachute descent is usually misguided. He told one story of a ferry pilot who was delivering a fractional-ownership Cirrus SR22 for the fractional company and ran out of fuel over Texas. Rather than pulling the parachute he elected to land the aircraft on a dirt road. The SR22 is a hot aircraft, lands fast and is very unlike landing a J-3 Cub or an ultralight off-airport. In this case the pilot touched down successfully on the road but rolled at high speed through a cattle gate that substantially damaged the wing and required that it be replaced. The insurance covered the damage, but the company had to wait six months for a new set of wings to be built and installed. Beach pointed out that new Cirruses were available with a one week lead time at that point in time and so, if the parachute had been pulled and the aircraft written off, the company would have had a replacement aircraft back in the air very quickly, without the loss of revenue involved in the six month wait for new wings. As one Flight 8 member pointed out, once you pull the handle the aircraft is the insurance company's problem, not the pilot's.
The philosophy Beach espouses is that the CAPS is there to be used, that it saves lives and not using it in an emergency is almost always a higher risk than using it. He sums up the teaching point as "pull early and pull often". His aim is to reduce the number of fatalities on Cirrus aircraft and he thinks that teaching pilots to think of the CAPS as a first resort in an emergency and not as a last report is key to this goal.
COPA Flight 8 would like to thank Beach for taking time out from his holiday in Ottawa to speak to us and also thank the Rockcliffe Flying Club for the use of their classroom facilities.
COPA Flight 178 Pembroke's Al Hepburn has become Flight 8's most popular speaker; he has addressed Flight 8 four times now, since and his talks always attract a big crowd. This meeting was no exception as the upper lounge at the Ottawa Flying Club was full to hear Hepburn describe his recent flight from Dubai to Seattle, via China.
Some background is in order to explain how Hepburn ended up flying across China by light aircraft. He is retired but works on occasion for Air Journey as a trip director, helping to shepherd groups of light planes on tours across the Atlantic to Europe and beyond. The company also provides "concierge" support services for individual owners undertaking long flights.
In this case Wei Chen, a pilot and Chinese citizen who lives in the USA, wanted to become the first Chinese citizen to circumnavigate the earth, with a stop in his home town of Changsha, of course.
For the trip Chen traded in his Piper Saratoga piston single for a more capable Socata TBM 700 single engine turboprop, but, being a relatively low time pilot enlisted the help of Air Journey for the planning, permits, visas, route knowledge and thousands of other factors that such an ambitious trip entails. Air Journey recommended that Hepburn accompany Chen on the trip to act as navigator, trip planner and co-pilot. With several Air Journey long trips behind him, Hepburn knew most of what to expect on this expedition.
As Hepburn explained, in Asia general aviation is a rarity. They often park you at the main airline terminal, with handling fees to match. Permits for everything are almost always required and weather information can be slim to none. In Russia flying is done at metric flight levels. In China single engine aircraft require special permission to even enter the country. Trips like this are not a fun holiday. With all the potential delays, time zone changes, tight schedules and weather pressures, as Hepburn puts it "flying round the world is physiologically demanding".
To make matters more challenging Chen had brought a banner, to have his photo taken with at all the ports of call, started his own website about the trip and organized media events at many of the planned destinations.
Hepburn was to accompany Chen from Quebec City all the way to Paris and then rejoin him in Dubai for the legs through India, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and onto Hong Kong. Initially Hepburn had planned to not fly though China since he did not want to work with non-English ATC, and instead intended to stay in Hong Kong for ten days where his wife Carolyn could join him, but events didn't work out that way. He was to pick up the trip again to fly through Russia, over the Bering Strait to Alaska, down the Canadian west coast and finally to Seattle, Washington, where Hepburn's involvement would end. Chen's plans were then to fly the TBM 700 onto Oshkosh in time for AirVenture, completing the trip on his own.
The Atlantic crossing started on and involved five hours flying time from Quebec City to Nuuk, Greenland via Schefferville and Kuujjuaq. After an overnight stay in Nuuk the next stop was Reykjavík, Iceland, including a visit to the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. The next day it was onto Hepburn's original homeland of Scotland where they visited Dundee, St. Andrews and Edinburgh. The flight continued to England, including trips to Bornemouth and Salisbury, where Chen was keen to see Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral. France was next, where a visit to the Palace of Versailles impressed even the hard-to-impress Hepburn. In Paris there was a reception for Chen staged by the People's Republic of China's mission. Following that, Hepburn headed home for a break. He would catch up with Chen later in Dubai on .
To make matters even more interesting from this point in the adventure Hepburn offered to email out frequent real-time updates during the trip and offered to add me to his mailing list. I suggested that I post his diary entries on the Flight 8 Blog as they came in and he agreed that would be a good idea. The progressively posted entries added a feel for the trip as it unfolded with its ups and downs in almost real time. The reports, starting with Hepburn's departure for Dubai on , remain on the Flight 8 blog. They are an interesting read all by themselves.
Hepburn's time in Dubai included a bus tour of the city with a desert 4X4 safari where his vehicle got a flat tire and the obligatory camel ride, not to mention a barbecue with belly dancing. Hepburn noted that the recession has been hard on the once-booming Dubai and his five-star hotel room was only $53 per night. Chen invited a friend of his named Sam, to join the flight and they departed for Muscat, Oman on . Flight planning was complicated by the fact that Chen had no charts, but Hepburn had year-old ones, plus the TBM had an up-to-date GPS database.
After Muscat the next destination was Agra, India. Enroute the TBM's PT-6 engine showed a high oil temperature reading, which was a concern, especially over water. Arriving at Agra close to airport closing time the crew were ready with a PDF chart of the ILS approach but were cleared for the VOR/DME, an approach for which they had no chart. Since the weather was good they requested the visual approach and completed that instead. Arriving on a Friday evening in Agra allowed Hepburn to experience the worst motor vehicle traffic he had ever seen anywhere on earth. On top of that the passenger they had brought along was not on the requisite permits which was not acceptable in India and nothing could be solved until the appropriate offices opened on Monday, leaving them parked for the weekend. The PT-6 engine was ground tested and seemed to be performing acceptably. At least the weekend off gave the three travellers a chance to see the Taj Mahal.
After the permit problem was rectified it was onto Kolkata (formerly called Calcutta). The PT-6 was again showing erratic high oil temperature indications, but it seemed to be an indication problem. After one night in Kolkata next was a flight over Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma) to Thailand and the capital, Bangkok, where another media extravaganza awaited. The mandatory handling fees at Bangkok airport were an amazing $3500! However this was not the highest handling fee that Chen paid.
In Bangkok, Chen discovered that his banner was not welcome and getting photographs of it was a challenge. By this point in the trip, with all the flying, time zone changes and media events, everyone was very tired. Sam departed to be replaced on the TBM by a People's Daily female reporter and a cameraman. At the next stop in Vientiane, Laos, the crew noticed that the ground handling company had sent the same handler from Bangkok out by airline to deal with their arrival. Hepburn didn't ask what the handling fee in Vientiane was.
The next day it was onto Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) where they saw a puppet show, made a photo-op trip to an orphanage and did a tour of part of the Mekong Delta. The busy city of Hong Kong was next, the gateway to China itself. Here they were parked at an actual dedicated general aviation terminal, but in Hong Kong GA means Boeing Business Jets and Gulfstream G-Vs, all dwarfing the tiny TBM 700. In Hong Kong, Hepburn's wife Carolyn joined them and they toured the island, Aberdeen Harbour and visited the Botanical Gardens. Chen assured Hepburn that they would only be going to airports that offered English ATC and convinced him to continue on the flight and not stay in Hong Kong. On they departed for Chen's home town of Changsha, the capital city of Hunan, in south-central China. The TBM was full of media people. Hepburn was not surprised to find out on their arrival that Chen had a US public relations team for his arrival, flown in by airline.
On they flew onto Xi'an, the capital of the Shaanxi province, for more media events. To get into Beijing it was necessary to be on the ground before 0900 hours and that meant leaving the hotel before 0200 hours local time. Even though English was actually available Chen conducted all the radio conversations in China in Chinese, which left Hepburn out of the proceedings. On arrival ATC reported the visibility as 3 km, but Hepburn doubted it was even 1 km. The highly polluted Beijing air seems to be the subject of some propaganda, or at least denial. During the time in the capital, in between the media events, they were able to visit the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Upon leaving Beijing, they were presented with a $6500 handling fee, the highest on the trip. For that much money you would think that the service would be outstanding, but they were subject to a three hour delay because an Airbus A320 was parked on the painted yellow taxiway line on the ramp, between the TBM's parking space and the departure runway. There was lots of room to taxi around the A320, but deviating from yellow lines is not permitted in China. Eventually the A320 was towed to another place and the flight to Harbin commenced. Once in Harbin the crew was able to visit the famous Siberian Tiger Park.
Harbin was the last Chinese stop and from there it was onto Russia. Hepburn had travelled through Russia before and so its pitfalls and legendary bureaucracy held few surprises. The stops were Khabarovsk, Magadan and Anadyr. The intention was to land at the island airport in Anadyr in time to catch the last ferryboat to town, but the schedule had been changed and they, literally, missed the boat. This resulted in a stay at the small airport hotel instead, where they were at least able to buy some groceries for supper.
The trip back to North America started on with a leg from Anadyr to Anchorage, Alaska. The flight over the Bering Strait went smoothly and they ended the day in a hotel right on Lake Hood, the world's busiest seaplane base. During the stay there the crew went for a floatplane sightseeing tour in a Cessna 206 and landed on a melt-water lake to visit a glacier. On the way south on to Juneau in the TBM they detoured to overfly Mount McKinley, the highest point in North America. They also flew by Mount Logan, Canada's highest peak, too.
With favourable winds they were able to comfortably make a non-stop leg from Juneau directly to Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, where Hepburn completed his part of the voyage and headed home to Pembroke, Ontario by airline.
In answering Flight 8's members' questions after his presentation Hepburn admitted that trips like this are not vacations, but done to prove something. In this case Chen did achieve his goal and became the first Chinese citizen to fly around the world, with help from Hepburn and Air Journey.
The October Flight 8 meeting fell on a cool and crisp autumn night as it often does. But inside the warmth of our usual meeting place at the Ottawa Flying Club a good crowd gathered to hear COPA Director Paul Hayes recount the glory days of flying Canadair Sabres in the middle years of the Cold War, with stories and photos.
These days Hayes is one of three COPA Directors from southern Ontario, the Captain of COPA Flight 44 and President of the Buttonville Flying Club, near Toronto, but in the late s and early s he was a Sabre pilot in Germany with the RCAF. He joined the RCAF as an airframe technician in and in his reserve unit, 411 Squadron, Downsview sent him for pilot training.
His pilot training course was held at RCAF Station Clarsholm, Alberta during the fall and winter of /. In those days the de Havilland DH82C Tiger Moth had been retired and the de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk had not yet entered service, so initial training was done on the North American Harvard. The Harvard is a large, handful of an aircraft for an ab initio student pilot with retractable gear and a constant speed propeller. The pilot wings course meant flying 330 hours in ten months on Harvards, plus many hours of ground school, of course. The usually VFR winter weather of southern Alberta helped keep the course on schedule as they flew basic manoeuvres, instrument flying, aerobatics, formation, air combat maneuvers and weapons delivery training using rockets, bombs and machine guns, all flown on the versatile Harvard.
When Hayes had finished his course and graduated with his RCAF pilot wings, he went home to his reserve squadron in Toronto to attend university and fly part time. The Cold War was on and NATO faced the Warsaw Pact armies across western Europe, with the threat of nuclear war being unleashed any day. As part of the defence of North America 411 Squadron was equipped with the de Havilland Vampire jet fighter. Hayes described its wooden twin-boom construction and its formidable, if slow-firing, four Hispano-Suiza cannons. Hayes indicated that the Vampire was a great introduction to jet flying, even with that aircraft's limitations, including its lack of ejection seat. He put in 400 hours on the wooden jet, flying it solo from the first flight, as Canada had no two-seat Vampire trainers.
It was during this time that Hayes started civil flying, obtaining a commercial licence on the basis of his military training and checking out on the Piper J-3 Cub and the Aeronca Champion at Maple airfield, north of Toronto with legendary instructor Marion Orr.
In 411 Squadron was given six T-33 jet trainers and the following year was equipped with the Canadair Sabre Mk 5. These Mk 5s had been replaced on the front line RCAF squadrons in Europe by the Mk 6 and thus came to reserve service. After flying the F-86 for just a short while, Hayes decided that the life of a full time RCAF fighter pilot would suit him and he went down to the recruiting centre and joined the regular air force on the promise of a posting to Europe.
Hayes was soon posted to 422 Squadron at 4 Wing, Baden, Germany. In those days a squadron had a full complement of 25 aircraft, with three Sabre Squadrons to a Wing and a total of four wings and 300 Sabres in Germany. Later one Sabre squadron per wing was replaced by an Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck all-weather fighter squadron to complement the Sabre's day-fighter capabilities. Hayes reports that when he arrived in Europe Sabre squadrons were flying 1000 hours per month and maintained about 80% serviceability, an accomplishment he attributes to the Wing's ground crews.
By Hayes had been in Germany for four months and was sent to Scottish Aviation at Renfrew, Scotland to pick up a Sabre for the newly formed West German Luftwaffe and ferry it to Oldenburg, Germany. Flying a Sabre with the "Ritterkreuz" on it instead of the maple leaf roundel was a new experience and marked the beginning of Hayes' long association with the Luftwaffe. He soon found himself as one of several RCAF pilots assigned as "Tactical Advisers" to the new German Air Force to help them get their units trained and up to NATO standards. For his part Hayes was sent to Flugplatz Pferdsfeld to help train Jagdgeschwader 73, (Fighter Wing 73). The Wing was named in honour of Second World War German fighter pilot Johannes "Macky" Steinhoff, by then an officer in the new Luftwaffe. The wing's two squadrons were equipped with Sabre Mk 6s, with some donated ex-USAF T-33s for IFR training. The unit's pilots consisted of about a quarter WWII veterans. Hayes helped train the wing in air combat manoeuvring and though the equipage of their Sabres with the AIM-9 Sidewinder heat seeking missiles as well. All in all Hayes spend two and half years with the Luftwaffe.
Over the years Hayes has kept up his association with JG73 as they gave up their Sabres for the Fiat G.91 ground attack aircraft and later for the McDonnell-Douglas F-4F Phantom. With the fall of the Iron Curtain in the unit was moved to Laage in the former East Germany and equipped with the MiG 29 "Fulcrum" air superiority fighter. Today the wing is re-fitting with the state-of-the-art EuroFighter Typhoon.
Hayes emphasized that the Cold War was a great time to be a fighter pilot and that back then the RCAF had the best aircraft, pilots and groundcrews as attested by their constant wins in NATO competitions.
It wasn't all smooth flying, though and Hayes was involved in two accidents. While flying a Vampire the engine flamed out on short final and the mud under-run tore off the plane's landing gear, Hayes emerging uninjured. In another accident, while taking off as part of a four-ship formation of Sabres Hayes' aircraft suffered a hydraulic control system failure. This normally would not have been critical as the engine-driven hydraulic pump had an electrical back-up that should have automatically taken up the load and provided hydraulic pressure, but it didn't. Without hydraulic pressure the pilot becomes a passenger and Hayes' Sabre hit the ground, one external tank catching fire. Once the aircraft stopped he safely egressed and lived to fly again, unhurt.
When the Sabre was retired from Canadian service in the middle s Hayes did not convert to the replacement Canadair CF-104 Starfighter and instead went onto various air force flying positions on transports and helicopters, retiring in as a Brigadier General. Today he has an aviation consulting business and flies a Cessna 172RG and 182RG from Buttonville, maintaining his instrument rating.
Hayes still puts his years of Sabre flying to good use, though, as an adviser to Gatineau-based Vintage Wings, who recently acquired a Sabre and and now fly it regularly in air displays. Hayes doesn't get to fly the single-seat aircraft anymore, but his knowledge of the aircraft and its strengths and weaknesses help keep Vintage Wings operations safer.
Ottawa's COPA Flight 8 doesn't meet over the summertime, so we started off the fall season with our September meeting and a presentation about a new residential fly-in community that is being developed just west of Ottawa in western Quebec.
The project is the brain child of André Durocher, who has combined his passion for flying with his current profession of land surveyor. Durocher was first awed by flying and airplanes when he was three years old. Since then he worked a number of years as a bush pilot and operated an aerial sightseeing business, as well. Today he owns four aircraft, a deHavilland Canada Super Beaver, a Citabria, a Questair Venture and a V-8 powered Seabee. After visiting Spruce Creek in Florida he looked around for a similar fly-in community to base his aircraft at and not finding any in the area, he decided he would have to start one himself. He settled on a 175 acre plot of land on the north side of the Ottawa River in the Municipality of Pontiac, Quebec. His development includes 3400 feet of river front land and is only a short drive from Ottawa, so it seems an ideal spot for recreational homes, plus runways and a float plane base.
Durocher has taken the project of subdividing and developing the property himself. In he started building the two runways and today they are 2000 feet and 3400 feet in length, with compacted gravel surfaces. The seaplane base was accepted as a registered aerodrome first and was entered in the Water Aerodrome Supplement in . The land aerodrome was registered and in the Canada Flight Supplement in . The longer runway is slated for paving, so that Durocher can move his Questaire Venture there.
The airpark consists of 60 residential lots of one to two acres each. All are at least 150 feet wide and most are treed. The site is served by a municipal road and has electric power. These rural lots will each have their own well and septic system. Durocher also plans to build a clubhouse and recreation centre, including tennis courts. The clubhouse will include a gym, pool table and a bathroom with showers. He explained that to make the place attractive to non-flying spouses the facility will not look like an airport, but more like a country estate. There are horse-boarding stables in the neighbourhood as well as golf and in the wintertime skiing in nearby Gatineau Park.
Durocher did confirm one important feature these days, the community will be served with wireless high speed internet.
The development's building lots are all free-hold and owners will be able to build their own home and hangar on their lot to their own specifications using any builder of their choice, as long as the development rules and municipal by-laws are followed. The maximum house size that can be built is 17% of the lot size and the minimum size is about 1000 sq ft, depending on the segment of the development the lot is in, so there is lots of flexibility in house design. Also houses are required to be built before or at the same time as hangars are built, which will ensure that the community retains its residential character.
The common parts of the aerodrome, including the runways and taxiways will be owned by a condominium-type corporation that every landowner in the development will have one share of. Durocher expects that the monthly fees for runway maintenance, snow clearing and the other common-use facilities will be $50-75.
The purchase agreements include the formation of an architectural control committee that will ensure that house styles and hangar plans will blend in together. The agreements also require that the facility remain an aerodrome unless a vote of all landowners agrees to close the aerodrome. This ensures that as long as even one home owner wants to keep the aerodrome open, then it will stay open.
One very positive point about the Pontiac Air Park is that Durocher reports that it has the enthusiastic backing of the local mayor and council. When completed it will be the biggest residential development in this very rural municipality and they support the project wholeheartedly.
So far Durocher has sold five lots and has reserved two others. When asked by a Flight 8 member if he plans on building a home there himself, Durocher replied quickly, "of course, that is why I started this project".
For our June meeting Flight Captain Mike Shaw invited global flier Al Hepburn from Flight 178 Pembroke, to come down to Ottawa and tell us about his experiences in the Air Journey Around the World. This was Hepburn's third presentation to Flight 8 and each one seems to grow in its scope. His first was on flying to Florida, the second on flying to the UK and this one around the world. Flight members are not sure what he will do to top this one!
The company that organizes these big trips, Air Journey of Florida, tapped into Hepburn's considerable long range flying experience. It is a testament to how much in demand Hepburn's international flying skills are that we had to move our traditional Flight 8 meeting date to a week earlier in the month as he had just returned from a flight to Paris a few days before and was soon off on another trip in a SOCATA TBM 700 to Dubai, with the paying customer's goal of flying to China and on to Oshkosh via Alaska.
This particular Air Journey flight was quite ambitious. It aimed to take four aircraft around the world. The participating aircraft were a Cessna 560 Citation Excel, a Pilatus PC-12/45, a SOCATA TBM 850 and the only piston-engined aircraft on the trip, a Piper PA-46-350P Malibu Mirage. Nine customer crew members started the trip and seven finished it. The flight covered 27 countries over 72 days.
Hepburn didn't do the whole trip, instead he was hired on to guide the group though a few parts of the route that made use of his particular expertise. Air Journey had him fill the role of Journey Director for the Quebec to Paris segment and also the Nagoya, Japan to Seattle legs and appointed him Flight Planner for the Paris to Egypt portion. It was the trans Atlantic and Bering Strait legs that Hepburn briefed us on, perhaps the most challenging flying and certainly the most challenging bureaucratically.
Hepburn has now been across the North Atlantic nine times and, as he noted, taking a group of capable aircraft like this across in the summer is not usually a big challenge, but the summer of featured something new - Eyjafjallajokul.
The Eyjafjallajokul volcano in Iceland erupted and this greatly impacted flying at all altitudes over the North Atlantic. Not only did the restricted areas for volcanic ash have to be avoided, but the ash cloud caused changes in the North Atlantic Track System (NATS), forcing the airline traffic further north or further south and thus limited airspace that could be used by non-airline traffic.
Hepburn explained the NATS in some detail. The tracks are set daily to make use of the prevailing winds and run from the west of Europe to the east coast of North America, using the airspace from FL285 to FL390. Because the system is set up for aircraft that can fly the whole North Atlantic without stopping it does not accommodate traffic that has to stop for fuel in Greenland and Iceland, since climbing and descending though the tracks is not allowed.
Compounding the flight planning problems even more were the diverse capabilities of the aircraft involved. The highest performance aircraft, the Citation, does not have transoceanic range and can only fly over top of NATS airspace under ideal conditions, but if forced to fly lower than the tracks' FL285 burns a lot of jet fuel. Other factors that complicated flight planning included no avgas at many northern airports and the fact that some of the aircraft on the trip required longer and paved runways.
On the aircraft departed Quebec City for Kuujjuaq, Quebec in good weather. Hepburn prefers using Kuujjuaq when possible, because it is often warmer than Iqaluit, has avgas, although in barrels and pilots have to provide their own pump, and because it allows more latitude options in crossing to Greenland. In Kuujjuaq the crews stayed at the Kuujjuaq Co-operative, which was not quite up to the normal level of accommodation they were used to, having stayed at the Chateau Frontenac previously.
The leg from Kuujjuaq to Kangerlussuaq (Sondie), Greenland went without incident and they even made it in under the 1700 hour curfew. Avgas for the Mirage was available, but at a cost of US$20 per gallon or about Cdn$5 per litre.
Next was the leg to Iceland and this meant dodging ash and the NATS tracks. Reykjavik was listed as closed that day. Fortunately the ash was to the east and the tracks were far south that day allowing a clear flight to Akureyri, Iceland. They flew the 67th parallel and then direct the RE NDB and direct Akureyri for a total of 796 nm flown. On the way into Iceland ATC passed along the latest ash NOTAM, which consisted of a string of 20 latitudes and longitudes. Plotting all of these on the chart in flight was a challenge but ATC kept them clear of the area regardless. The TBM 850 pilot accepted the ILS approach into Akureyri, which sounded good until they realized it was a five degree glidepath and not the more usual three degree. Hepburn pointed out that five degrees is very steep. Everyone recovered safely, but with cold and windy weather in Akureyri there was no incentive to stay more than one night, so on 15 May they headed for Inverness, Scotland and some rest time. They had considered going to Bergen, Norway, but unusually the weather looked much better in Scotland.
Getting to Inverness required some altitude and track deviations as far north as the Faroes, to avoid the ash restrictions, but after an initial clearance at FL190 the turbine aircraft were all cleared to FL310, with the Citation happily up at FL390. Once on the ground in Inverness the weather was positively summer-like, which isn't always the case there. The group stayed at Bunchrew House, a chateau near Inverness, for two nights and did some touring on the ground, including seeing relics from the 1746 Battle of Culloden and the obligatory whiskey mill tour. The ash threat closed Inverness Airport for the two days of rest time, even though no ash was seen in the town. On 18 May they departed for Paris, Pontoise Airport, a distance of 635 nm. Other than a cabin pressurization glitch that fixed itself, the flight went smoothly.
With the group in Paris and 3,484 nm flown since Quebec City, including 1,130 nm overwater, Hepburn was finished his job for now and headed home via airline, to catch up with them later on for the serious next water crossing.
Almost two months later on Hepburn rejoined the group at Nagoya, Japan to help get them to North America. Enthusiasm was waning, the group were now very tired and just wanted to get home. Some of the crew members had already gone home and now Air Journey's boss was doing so, too, leaving Hepburn to shepherd the four aircraft. Prior to this flight Hepburn had never flown the Pacific, although he had flown in Russian airspace once before in . Prior to the flight he assessed that the greatest challenges would probably be the distances and the weather around the Sea of Okhotsk, but the event proved that the greatest obstacle was Russian bureaucracy. On Russia's east coast there are only a few airports that have English language capabilities. Using the rest requires hiring a Russian navigator to fly along and make the system work. The route to be flown, north across the Sea of Okhotsk, the Kamchatka Peninsula and on towards Alaska would take them right through the route of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 when it was shot down on , a sobering thought as Hepburn pointed out.
Avgas limitations for the Malibu Mirage dictated the route via Obihiro on Hokkaido, Japan and then to Magadan and Anadyr in Russia, with 400 litres of avgas at each Russian airport available though prior arrangement. The group was scheduled to leave on Saturday , but Anadyr was closed on weekends and Magadan would be open on Sunday by special arrangement, although Petropavlovsk was open 24 hours a day. Things got complicated even before leaving the ground as both Japan and Russia require permits for international flights in advance. These had been taken care of by a German company, Flight Services International. Departing any major airport in Japan also requires a departure slot reservation, even when there is no traffic. These were organized by the Japanese handler, JAS. Even further complicating things is the requirement for visas for Russia, which have fixed dates based on hotel reservations. Based on all these considerations the flight was planned to depart for New Chitose, Japan on Saturday 17 July and then to proceed to Magadan on 18 July. The group spent some tourist time in Nagoya and saw the Nagoya Castle built in 1612 and the Toyota Museum. In a hurry to get home the two faster and longer-ranged aircraft decided to proceed directly to New Chitose, on Sunday make a fuel stop at Petropavlovsk and then straight to Anchorage.
The departure slots were limiting and despite being ready to go hours in advance the 1430 slot time had to be adhered to. As is normal, the Russian permits arrived at the very last minute, allowing the departure from Japan.
As Hepburn explained, flying in Russia is different from anywhere else. First of all everything is metric, flight levels are in metres, airspeeds assigned in km/h, distances in km and windspeeds in m/s. Fortunately the Garmin GPS systems they used can easily be configured to display metric instead of imperial measures. Language was anticipated to be a barrier and so Hepburn was ready with a list of useful Russian phrases but it turned out that the Russian controllers spoke better English than Japanese ATC did and the frequencies were generally quiet as well.
The overnight stay in Magadan was austere. Hepburn noted "The only prosperous-looking building in town was the Russian Orthodox Church, most vehicles are time-expired imports from Japan. The hotel (a 50 minute drive from the airport) looked promising, but the rooms were dismal. No sheets on the bed."
The next overnight stop, dictated by fuelling delays for the Malibu, was much better. Anadyr airport and the town are separated by a strait of water. The crews caught the last ferry at 1800 and the hotel proved much better, including a good restaurant which had working internet.
The plan was to catch the first morning ferry at 0800 hours, but the hotel had failed to secure the requested taxi and so they literally missed the boat. This was rectified by trolling the docks until they found a landing craft captain who spoke a little English and was willing to transport them across for only double the normal ferry price. Departing Anadyr was not that easy, however. The Russian customs officials were concerned that the filed flight plans showed Nome, Alaska, while the permits showed Anchorage. New flight plans were completed and the customs officials went to go and make enquiries, which took four hours. While waiting, the Citation, which should have been in the US by then showed up. They had been unable to get their permits changed and so had spent two nights in Petropavlovsk. Finally they got a very late start for Anchorage, but saved a whole day, due to the International Date Line.
Finally in Anchorage the crews stayed in a hotel right on Lake Hood, the world's busiest water airport. For a break they went Beaver float flying with a local air service. Due to favourable tailwinds they were able to make the 1293 nm flight to Seattle non-stop on 22 July.
Overall the Pacific segment involved 3,830 nm, of which 750 nm was overwater flying. The trip ended with dinner in the restaurant at the top of Seattle's Space Needle.
The May COPA Flight 8 meeting was scheduled to be "Tactical Training on Sabres of the German Air Force" with COPA Director Paul Hayes. Unfortunately Hayes was unable to make it at the last minute, due to an aircraft unserviceability. Fortunately COPA President and CEO Kevin Psutka quickly agreed to step into the resulting void and present "Crossing The Border" instead. Flight 8 will host Hayes' F-86 talk on instead.
Psutka's talk was particularly aimed at pilots considering going to AirVenture Oshkosh this summer and his key message was that even though border-crossing procedures are more complex than they used to be, that it is still not that hard to go to the USA, as long as you follow a checklist. Psutka also emphasized that it is critical that pilots do use their aircraft to travel and specifically to fly across the border, because if people quit doing that the facilities to support that type of flying, including airports and customs, will be shut down from lack of use, ruling out future travel.
Psutka mentioned that transborder travel by light aircraft has been down in recent years, driven perhaps by a combination of the complexities and the recession as well.
Psutka emphasized a checklist approach to border crossing, just like pilots do with all phases of flying. This includes ensuring everyone on board has current passports and other documents, filing the required eAPIS report online, contacting US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) by phone and then flight planning with Nav Canada.
One of the key steps is of course checking the weather on both sides of the border. Psutka pointed out that there are many different weather briefing websites for the USA, but he uses the official NOAA Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS) website. The FAA TFR website can give information on Temporary Flight Restrictions, plus you will need to check NOTAMS, too. By filing to clear US customs at an airport near the Canadian border pilots can avoid running into new "pop-up" TFRs and also more easily make their required +/- 15 minute arrival time.
Psutka mentioned that the required US Customs decals are no longer available on arrival and must now be purchased in advance on line.
A large part of the presentation was taken up explaining the subtleties of the relatively new US Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) . Registering for the system and awaiting US government approval of your application may take up to five days, so you need to do that well in advance of your planned flight. Before the actual flight you need to file an arrival report with all the information required included. Psutka stressed that it is also a good idea to file a departure report at the same time based on your estimated departure date and time, in case internet access is not available before departure. Failing to get the eAPIS reports right can result in a fine of US$5,000 for a first offence and US$10,000 for second and subsequent offences. It pays to do the online eAPIS tutorial and even do your first crossing with someone who has done it before to avoid pitfalls.
Even with the eAPIS report filed, which does go to US CBP, it is still very important to phone your proposed US CBP individual port of entry office and coordinate your arrival time to ensure that the officers can accommodate you then.
Crossing the border requires that you are squawking and talking to ATC at the point of border crossing. When arriving make sure you are within 15 minutes of your estimated arrival time and stay in the aircraft until cleared by CBP to exit the aircraft. You also need to contact a US Flight Service Station to close your cross-border flight plan.
Psutka also covered flying home after your time at Oshkosh is done. Again an eAPIS departure report is needed, unless you previously filed one in advance. You need to check the weather and NOTAMS for both sides of the border, contact Canada Customs to arrange clearance for your airport of entry and file an ICAO flight plan with Lockheed Martin, who run the US FSS system.
It is worth noting that while it is legal to use cellphones in the air in Canadian airspace this is not the case in US airspace, making phoning to change plans enroute more difficult in the USA.
Clearing Canadian Customs requires arriving within 30 minutes of your proposed ETA and then waiting in the aircraft until that ETA has passed. If Customs do not show up then you are allowed to exit the aircraft to contact them for instructions. Make sure your cross-border flight plan is closed!
Psutka covered a lot more details, hints and tips in his presentation. The good news is that these are all available in written form in the AOPA/COPA Guide to Cross Border Operations, available on the COPA website.
Flight 8 would like to thank Kevin Psutka for filling in with a very topical presentation at the last minute. Hopefully we will see a number of Flight 8 members make the trek to Oshkosh in .
For our meeting Flight 8 went on a tour of the Nav Canada Ottawa Control Tower and the ATC Simulation Research and Experimentation Centre. The tour was organized by Nav Canada's Steve Lang who runs the simulation centre, a facility used for testimg new equipment and procedures as well as for training.
Lang and his team can simulate arriving and departing traffic while in the air and on the ground at airports. This allows them to test different runway and taxiway layouts along with various air traffic control schemes to see which offers the greatest efficiency while maintaining a safe operation. They have done simulations showing the impact of transoceanic and polar flows on domestic air flows. The simulations are visual in nature clearly showing bottlenecks on the ground and potential conflicts in the air. They can process a day's traffic at, for example, Pearson in a few minutes and readily see where improvements can be made. Nonetheless the bottom line remains the same, if all airlines schedule departures at nine o'clock no one will achieve their schedule.
We had a good turn out for the event, even though the weather was poor, with rain and thunderstorms in the area.
Flight 8 would like to thank Steve Lang and the rest of the Nav Canada staff for staying late into the evening to show us their facilities.
Jim Holtom's latest presentation to Flight 8, No Puke - This Time: Jim Holtom discovers a miracle medication, was a great success. Everyone was engrossed flying Holtom's emergency manoeuvres along with his videos. You may recall his last presentation in was titled, No Puke - No Glory: Jim Holtom sadly discovers he'll never be an aerobatic pilot. I swear I heard a couple say they were near puking just watching his latest flights.
At Holtom's previous presentation to Flight 8, in , he spoke of taking five flights in APS, Emergency Manoeuvre Training's Extra 300L aircraft and puking nine times. Aside from how to recognize and deal with an aircraft that is, or is about to be, out of control he also learned that he will not be an aerobatic pilot with this puke to flight ratio. This month Holtom returned to Flight 8 to tell what he learned in his second bout of training at APS, and he did not puke once in three flights. Keep reading to find out how he did it.
Again Holtom's presentation included spectacular videos of his flights. The videos on his second session with APS included the usual through the windshield view, but also additional split screen view of him at the controls and from a wing tip camera back at the fuselage. The videos also included at G meter which was seldom more than 3 Gs positive and slightly less than 1 G negative on occasion. APS links their training to the aircraft you most often fly. Holtom owns a Cessna 206 which is limited to 3.8 Gs in the Normal Category, hence, in spite of the Extra 300Ls ability to deal with plus or minus 10 Gs, they instructed Holtom to keep his manoeuvres to less than 3.8 Gs. APS forces the student to recognize the G loadings, for Holtom 3.8 Gs, through one's body, not instruments. The student has limited instruments, whereas the instructor has a complete set. Holtom was impressed with the precision, skill and attention to safety of APS instructors. It certainly showed in the videos.
On his second session at APS Holtom did more aerobatic manoeuvres than on his first trip there, including Cuban 8s, his favourite, and Hammerhead stalls, again real fun. He did manage to lose control in one hammerhead and believes he recovered from an inverted spin using the methods ground into him at APS. He said when it all comes apart like that it is not always easy to label it. He said the wake turbulence recoveries were the most taxing and upsetting, he does not want to experience wake turbulence in normal flying.
In the photograph Holtom is demonstrating the differences between stalls when skidding versus slipping, skidding stalls rotate the short way around, while the slipping ones go the long way. He said it was easier to deal with the slipping ones. He also noted that one is instructed to not make rash control inputs, rather watch and analyze what is happening and then react.
The solution to Holtom's tender tummy issues was what APS recommended all along and he ignored in his first session, namely Transderm-V patches by Novartis Consumer Health, Inc. Most Canadian drugstores have them, but they are likely behind the druggist's counter. In the USA they are called Transderm Scop and one needs a prescription. Unfortunately they are not acceptable for pilot-in-command duties.
With spring hopefully on the way in the near future, it seemed timely for COPA Flight 8 to host a presentation on the subject of water survivability. This presentation focused not only on surviving floatplane accidents, but indeed any accident where an aircraft ends up in the water, as it can and does happen to landplanes as well.
Our speaker was well known aviator, Kathy Fox, who, having retired from the Vice Presidency at Nav Canada is now a member of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. Fox is also noted as an air traffic controller, former member of the Canadian Precision Flying Team and as a flight instructor, a role she still fills part time at the Rockcliffe Flying Club. As a member of the TSB she takes an active interest in what helps keep pilots and passengers alive in accidents and that lead her to address water accidents.
Fox started her talk with an explanation of what the TSB's role is, explaining that it investigates air, marine, pipeline and rail accidents, reporting to parliament and not Transport Canada. Accidents are investigated to identify safety deficiencies and not to assign blame.
In the field of aviation water accidents the TSB conducted an extensive study that was published in and covered the accident record from -. The report SA9401 A Safety Study of Survivability in Seaplane Accidents is available on the TSB website. As Fox noted, even though the report is a bit dated recent data reviews show that very little has changed in the intervening time and the risk factors are still the same, too.
The study covered 1432 seaplane accidents, including 234 fatal accidents and 452 deaths. The causes of death tell a clear story. Of those who died 10% were from impact, 2% from exposure (hypothermia), 10% who drowned after being incapacitated and 67% who drowned while not incapacitated. A further 10% of deaths had no recorded cause. 70% of those who died inside the aircraft drowned and 86% of those who died outside the aircraft drowned. In the years since the report was published 70% of the fatalities in water aviation accidents have also been due to drowning. Clearly the biggest risk in water accidents is death from drowning.
Of 276 occupants 8% were able to escape from the aircraft unhampered, 26% escaped with difficulty and 44% did not escape. There are a variety of reasons for this, but the TSB has identified the key issues. High on this list is the fact that many aircraft, especially light aircraft, are not well designed to allow easy occupant egress. Many aircraft types also do not allow a rescuer outside the aircraft to open the doors, as when they are latched from the inside they are locked from the outside. This problem has prevented timely rescue in many cases.
The good news in all of this is that the TSB has identified the problem areas and has good information on what you can do to increase your chances of surviving a crash on the water.
Seat belts and especially shoulder harnesses play a big role in water survival. Not wearing shoulder harnesses often leads to head injuries and loss of consciousness, which means you won't get out of the aircraft. Several studies have shown that shoulder belts significantly improve survivability, especially when the aircraft cartwheels on water impact, which is a common impact scenario. Even though they help immensely, many light aircraft passenger seats aren't even equipped with shoulder harnesses and even when they are available 40% of occupants don't wear them.
One major factor in escape is that many people overestimate how long they can hold their breath in cold water. While the average person can hold their breath for 37 seconds in water at 25°C, in water at 0°C that time is reduced to 5-10 seconds, due to the gasp reflex. The TSB has recommended that helicopter passengers flying offshore be issued with escape breathing apparatus. The Canadian Forces have equipped their Sea King helicopters crews with this for many years.
Aircraft door handles are a major issue in survivability. The variety of door handles and latching mechanisms is staggering and many pilots are not that familiar with how they work and can use them when they can't be seen in a submerged aircraft. In some aircraft types the seats can block access to the door handles or make the handles impossible to reach from the seat next to them. Can you operate your door handle if you are upside-down in the cockpit? Many water accidents result in that occupant orientation. Are passengers properly briefed on how they work and are they given a chance to actually practice opening the doors? Some latches require a surprising amount of force to open and the passenger who has to open the door may not be prepared for that. As noted once latched many aircraft doors, cannot be opened from the outside, so opening them from the inside is critical.
With drowning the leading cause of death in water accidents, flotation is a critical factor. Life jackets must be of the type that is inflated after exiting the aircraft. The type that provide flotation all the time, such as boating-style PFDs, will prevent the occupants from escaping and contribute to their deaths. Since water accidents usually happen with little warning, having the life jackets stowed is of no use, they must be worn for at least take-off and landing if they are to do their job.
Passenger briefings for floatplane operations and flights over water need to be different from land briefings. Transport Canada has a very useful website section on just this issue. Perhaps the most important point is to ensure that passengers know to open the exit door first, before releasing their seat belt, otherwise they will probably not be able to open the door.
Of particular note both Transport Canada and the TSB recommend that people who fly over water get formal underwater escape training. This training is offered by several providers in Canada and is very effective. Having done the training will greatly increase your chances of getting out of a submerged aircraft. Without this training people only escape by luck.
Flight 8 would like to thank Kathy Fox for taking time from her busy schedule to come and brief us on water accident hazards before spring is here.
For the January meeting of COPA Flight 8, Flight Captain Mike Shaw invited Frank Hofmann to address the group. The timing was good, as Hofmann pointed out that the last time he had spoken to Flight 8 was in , so it was past due time for an update.
For a retired teacher and AME Frank Hofmann wears a lot of hats in the aviation world, even when he isn't out flying his homebuilt Bushby Mustang II. He is a member of the COPA Board of Directors for Quebec and is also COPA's Eastern Vice-Chair. Most week days in his home town of Montreal, Hofmann volunteers in one of the most critical jobs in global general aviation, as he is the IAOPA representative to ICAO.
ICAO is the International Civil Aviation Organization, a body of the United Nations, with 192 members states, headquartered in Montreal. ICAO largely determines the rules for civil aviation worldwide. IAOPA is the International Council of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations, a collective association for the 69 AOPAs around the world, with 470,000 members, including all the members of COPA. By joining COPA you automatically become a member of IAOPA and have representation at ICAO. IAOPA was formed in and became an official ICAO observer in . Based at AOPA HQ in Frederick, Maryland, IAOPA has just three staff, including Secretary General John J. Sheehan, administrator Ruth Moser and Hofmann in Montreal. The President of IAOPA is AOPA President and CEO Craig Fuller and the IAOPA Vice-President for North America is COPA President and CEO Kevin Psutka. As the IAOPA representative to ICAO Hofmann describes his behind-the-scenes work as mainly "preparing people for future ideas".
The biggest challenge, as Hofmann explains, is that fundamentally ICAO doesn't care about general aviation. The vast majority of ICAO's member states have no general aviation in their countries and as an observer, IAOPA has no vote on ICAO decisions. The achievements in influencing ICAO policy that IAOPA has accomplished are strictly the result of personal contacts and the patient building of relationships.
IAOPA's goals are to facilitate the movement of international general aviation and aerial work (GA/AW), act as the representative of GA/AW at all international forums, develop common policies and to publicize GA/AW. That last role is really the initial priority, as most countries' representatives have had little exposure to aviation outside the airlines and military. Amongst IAOPA's objectives are eliminating barriers and restrictions to GA/AW, publicizing the good news stories about GA/AW and educating international bodies about the important roles that small aircraft fulfil.
Of course to understand the work IAOPA does requires understanding what ICAO is all about. Not only does the UN body have 192 member states, but it officially operates in six languages: English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabic. This means that, even with its substantial budget, it still spends 40% on translation costs. ICAO's purpose is to achieve safe, secure and sustainable development of civil aviation amongst its member states. It does this though enhancing safety and security, and working on environmental protection, minimizing the adverse effects of global civil aviation on the environment. It also seeks to ensure that flying operations continue, despite global threats ranging from terrorists to volcanic ash clouds and also works to strengthen the rule of law and the laws governing civil aviation. The environmental protection aim is relatively new to ICAO and at first look seems at odds with the other goals, but is one the organization takes very seriously, as the Kyoto Protocol does not regulate international flight emissions but asks ICAO to address that issue.
ICAO's highest body is the Assembly, which consists of all member states and meets every three years. At that meeting the Assembly ratifies all the decisions of the previous three years since the last meeting. The Assembly also elects the Council, which is the governing body of the organization. The Council comprises representatives of 36 states which are elected for the three years between the assemblies. The 36 Council members are made up of three groups of states. First are the 12 that are most important in air transport and these are the permanent Council members. Next are the 12 states that are critical to air navigation, especially trans-oceanic operations, such as Ireland. Lastly there are 12 states that are elected as regional representatives, to ensure all parts of the world are heard from.
It is the Council's job to review and adopt Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and annexes, assisted by the Air Navigation Commission on technical matters, the Air Transport Committee on economic matters and Committee on Unlawful Interference in aviation security issues. It is the Air Navigation Commission that assists in preparing most of the rules that work their way through ICAO and later end up in national aviation regulations, such as the Transport Canada CARs.
The Air Navigation Commission in turn is assisted by technical experts from around the world. These form the Air Navigation Bureau, which is a part of the ICAO Secretariat. The Secretariat, which is headed up by the Secretary General, has five divisions: the Air Navigation Bureau, the Air Transport Bureau, the Technical Co-operation Bureau, the Legal Bureau, and the Bureau of Administration and Services.
This large organization produces many documents. Primary are the SARPs, currently consisting of 19 Annexes, 16 of which are on aviation technical subjects. Member states are required to comply with Standards unless they formally file a difference. Member states are supposed to endeavour to comply with Recommended Practices. PANS are Procedures for Air Navigation Services, which detail technical procedures. ICAO also produces guidance material, manuals and circulars, all designed to make it easier to comply with the SARPs.
It is pretty obvious that ICAO is a large and complex body that moves slowly and has many political influences. While fast-tracked rules have been known to make it through ICAO in a year, most routine matters take about ten years from proposal to ICAO implementation. When you add in the typical delay in national regulatory bodies, such as Transport Canada, which can also take ten years to move a regulation from proposal to implementation, it can be appreciated that the whole regulatory process moves at the pace of a glacier. This can be a good thing as in the regulatory world haste definitely makes waste, but it also means that by the time a SARP proposal becomes a national regulation the people who worked on the initial proposal may be long retired or even dead.
In this large and slow-moving organization Hofmann's volunteer job is to be the "face of general aviation". He notes that even though there are many pilots working at ICAO, from military and airline backgrounds, he is probably the only person there who owns his own airplane. Of course to many representatives this means he must be quite wealthy, so Hofmann has taken quite a number flying in his little homebuilt two-seater, explaining that it costs about the same to own and run as a typical car. He has given a number of ICAO personnel their first flight into an uncontrolled aerodrome, something not found in many countries in the world. Aside from the odd chance to fly, Hofmann spends a lot of his time at ICAO informally discussing issues from the GA/AW perspective, making sure people remember that small aircraft exist. IAOPA does get a chance for formal input to ICAO, participating in working groups, study groups and presenting papers when the opportunity arises. IAOPA also has the chance to reward people who help out on GA/AW issues with luncheons and dinners, presentation aircraft models and attendance at functions and similar activities, all part of the slow process of gaining understanding of GA/AW issues.
In his role as IAOPA representative to ICAO Hofmann reports regularly to the IAOPA Secretary General on developments in Montreal. He meets regularly with the Canadian government delegation to ICAO and also provides reports and feedback to the AOPAs around the world, including, of course, COPA.
Flight 8 would like to thank Frank Hofmann for coming down from Montreal to explain ICAO and IAOPA to us. The rarefied atmosphere at ICAO may seem a long way from the local airport flight line, but pilots appreciate that it was at ICAO that the rules requiring 406 MHz ELTs were conceived almost a generation ago and have finally wound their way into the CARs to become an issue for aircraft owners today.
For our meeting Flight 8 returned from our recent field trips to Rockcliffe Airport and the Nav Canada Technical Centre, to hold a meeting in our more usual venue, the Ottawa Flying Club's upper lounge. The occasion was a presentation entitled "Don't Stop the Prop", by Peter Handley of Phd Creative. His presentation focused on how to take photographs of aircraft or at least how he takes photographs in the hopes that this will improve the aircraft photos that the rest of us take.
Handley's day job is as a graphic designer, but he has also been the official photographer of Vintage Wings of Canada for the past four years. That position gives him the opportunity to regularly get up close to that flying museum's aircraft on the ground and also in the air.
Like most photographers these days, Handley shoots digital photos, not film. He mostly uses a Nikon D700 12 megapixel camera, although he has a number of other digital cameras available. He shoots all his photos in RAW format, due to its lack of digital compression, unlike other formats, like JPG. This makes for larger file sizes, but as he points out, "storage cards are cheap". Having the complete, uncompressed image allows him more latitude in the darkroom later in processing the images. The term "darkroom" is really an anachronism, as photo processing is done these days on a computer and not in a red-lit room full of chemicals but the nomenclature lives on. Handley does his photo processing on a Mac using Adobe Lightroom.
Handley's slide presentation included many images showing what not to do in photographing aircraft. As the title of his presentation indicates, one of the first lessons is to not show propellers frozen on moving aircraft because it looks odd. As Handley remarked, jets can be shot at a fast shutter speed, but 1/2300 is certainly enough to make a propeller at full rpm look like it is parked. He suggested that 1/250 is a much better speed to show blade motion and to give the photo a sense of life.
In shooting airshow aircraft from the ground, Handley demonstrated how a slower shutter speed plus panning the camera to follow the action will blur the background, giving a sense of motion and speed to the aircraft.
Handley went on to show many aircraft photos he has taken, demonstrating shooting at low ISOs, using perspective to advantage and to use a wide angle lens to aid composition. One of his favourite tricks is to use elevation to advantage, shooting downwards at parked aircraft from a rooftop, control tower or even a ladder to get a new view of the aircraft that ground-bound spectators will not have seen.
People are an important part of aviation and airshows, he explained, demonstrating how including people in aircraft photos can add interest and help to tell a story. In composing shots Handley emphasized not to centre the main subject, but move the aircraft or person off-centre to balance elements.
Handley admitted that some of his secrets to photographic success are to not stay still, but instead to keep moving and looking for new angles to shoot from and keeping his eyes open for details. Some situations are not ideal for photography, but with some creativity often good photos can come from bad situations.
In illustrating the interest that can be put into aircraft photographs, Handley showed close ups of the artwork composed of the metal grills on a polished Globe Swift cowling. He also showed a dramatic photo of flames belching from a P-51 Mustang exhaust on start-up and explained how the photo came about though a combination of curiosity from seeing the flames before, putting himself in the right location and then patience to get the shot, or rather to get the shots. Handley usually shoots a very large number of photos of each subject using burst mode on his camera.
Handley's final advice was, like the Boy Scouts, to "be prepared". Some opportunities for photos only happen once, like the chance to shoot a P-40 Kittyhawk and F-86 Sabre formation with astronaut Chris Hadfield flying the Sabre. On occasions like that, it is almost impossible to shoot too many photos as you won't get another chance, so extra SD cards are a must.
Flight 8 would like to thank Peter Handley for bringing his wealth of photographic knowledge, along with so many inspiring photographs, to the November Flight 8 meeting. We all just now need to get out there and practice photographing aircraft.
Being located in Ottawa has its advantages and one of them is that Flight 8 was invited by Nav Canada to a briefing on their upcoming new web flight planning system for our meeting. The briefing was followed by a tour of the computer facilities at the Nav Canada Technical Systems Centre located at the north side of the Ottawa International Airport. The briefing was conducted by Nav Canada's Director of Air Traffic Services System Integration, Bill Crawley, with the technical portion presented by Flight Service Specialist Kim Stolpmann.
The new web-based flight planning system is much more that just a face-lift for the old flight planning website. The existing system was rolled out in and for the first time allowed pilots to file flight plans on-line, augmenting phone and fax methods. While the current website does work, it hasn't met expectations in attracting pilots to use it, for several reasons. The existing website suffers from a one way flow of data, the pilot inputs a flight plan and it is gone into the system, without any feedback. It also doesn't allow flight plans to be amended after filing or to be cancelled. Those functions require a phone call to the Flight Information Centre (FIC) to accomplish. The existing system is also difficult to sign up for, requiring a printed form to be filled out and mailed away; the process of approval takes several weeks. Likewise a lost password requires a mailed inquiry and takes two to three weeks to get a new one. Furthermore the current flight planning website is not integrated with the Aviation Weather Website, which until was hosted by Environment Canada. All of these drawbacks added up to an internet flight planning system that most pilots didn't use.
The new system has been completely redesigned from scratch for much better customer service and to allow a two-way flow of information. Even the development process has been changed to incorporate a multi-disciplinary team of air traffic controllers, flight service specialists, pilots and in-house software developers. Using development techniques pioneered by the free software movement, the new software has not been constructed as a long process leading to complete finished product for testing, but on daily builds incorporating frequent changes that are tested as the changes are made. This process ensures a faster development pace and a better product. The new software is all written in the open source Python programming language and for much better speed and reliability runs on Red Hat Linux. On the internet it will support all browsers and operating systems.
The new Internet Flight Planning System (IFPS) will integrate weather and NOTAM information, providing seamless access to everything needed to plan and file a flight. One of the key aims is to allow a two way flow of data, allowing the pilot to not only input a flight plan, but also to change it, cancel it or delay the take-off time, as well. Due to improved automation the new system will reduce the need for human checking of flight plans, only requiring human checking if certain parameters are met. This should reduce errors and save a lot of Nav Canada manpower. The company hopes that the new bilingual system will also reduce FIC workload and provide quicker and more streamlined access to weather data as well. One aim is to centralize the old master flight plans, centre-stored flight plans and individual pilot website templates so that these can be used anywhere in the country and not just at individual FICs. Flight plans will initially be able to be filed up to 24 hours in advance of the intended flight, but as new ICAO rules come into place this should be able to be lengthened to 120 hours in advance, allowing a whole series of flights over five days to be pre-filed.
Flight Service Specialist Kim Stolpmann gave a demonstration of the current daily build of the website. He showed how much easier it will be to sign-up for the service, using current web protocols to create an account, confirm that your e-mail address is valid and chose your own password. In the event of a forgotten password, the system will e-mail a new password instantly, eliminating the two to three week wait that was the situation in the past. As on the current website users will be able to create repeated flight plans as templates and use them over and over again, changing parameters, like fuel on board or number of passengers as required. Stolpmann went on to file a flight plan and show how quick and easy it will be to change details, like the number of passengers, departure time or even to cancel the flight plan. Flight plans filed via internet will also be able to be amended by phone call to the FIC. Because the IFPS is an integrated system the reverse is also true - if a flight plan is filed by phone with the FIC it will appear in the pilot's account and may be amended by use of the website as long as the flight plan was based on a customer-defined template. Even if a FIC makes changes to the flight plan while enroute, these will be reflected in the user's account.
At present the new system will only accept flight plans for Canadian destinations, but eventually it will allow cross-border filings as well.
The briefing given by Stolpmann was received very positively by Flight 8 pilots, many of whom had suggestions to improve the user interface to make the terminology clearer, reduce potential confusion and make the system work better. Stolpmann made extensive notes for the software developers and indicated those ideas would be included in upcoming IFPS test builds. Flight 8 members will be involved in beta testing the system as well, to provide input from the point of view of private pilots.
The new system is expected to be complete and ready for beta testing in the spring of and operational for VFR use in the summer of .
Following the complete run-though of the new system, Bill Crawley conducted a tour of the computer facilities where Nav Canada has mock-ups of area and terminal control stations and where the IFPS is being operationally tested. Many of the computer workstations have been converted over from Windows to Linux in preparation for IFPS testing and future operations.
Flight 8 would like to thank Bill Crawley, Kim Stolpmann and the rest of the IFPS teams for staying late on a Wednesday evening to show us their new prototype system. The flight members seemed to agree that Nav Canada is doing this new system right and the improved development process should produce a much more modern and effective system for on-line flight planning. Obviously the new IFPS will provide manpower savings to the company, but it should also provide much improved service for pilots as well. Flight 8 members are looking forward to participating in the future IFPS beta testing phase, prior to its expected public release next year.
COPA Flight 8's original plan for September was to meet at Rockcliffe Airport for a briefing about Savage Aircraft Canada and to look over its line of Czech-built light aircraft to be hosted by Savage president Alan Dares. The planning for this started in , when Savage Aircraft Canada contacted Flight 8, keen to show off their new aircraft line-up. The date was set for September 22 and the location at Rockcliffe so that at least one of Savage Aircraft's products could be demonstrated to the flight there. Dares cancelled the meeting without explanation on 15 September, just a week before it was to take place, leaving us without a subject for the meeting.
Fortunately the Rockcliffe Flying Club stepped into the breach and offered to give a tour of their new facilities to the flight, including their newly installed Redbird full motion simulator. Since the flight was all set to gather at Rockcliffe anyway this became a quick meeting plan.
The club tour was conducted by RFC instructor Jean Rene de Cotret and started with a briefing in the new RFC lounge. The club has had a big change in facilities recently with its ancient and worn clubhouse and hangar torn down and replaced by a shiny new hangar and a clubhouse assembled from trailers. As de Cotret explained, the plan is that the trailers will be temporary and that a new permanent and more stylish clubhouse will be built soon. Construction at Rockcliffe is always complicated by the relationship between the club, the city, the National Capital Commission and the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, who operate the field facilities.
The flight members were split into two groups with half the crowd starting with a tour of the new hangar and the other half checking the new simulator. The hangar is a beautiful new structure that is used for aircraft maintenance and is the new home of Sutton Aviation, the local aircraft maintainer. The hangar cost the club in the vicinity of $350,000 to build and features underfloor radiant heating and remarkably bright lighting. It is clearly an improvement over the dingy structure that it replaces.
de Cotret explained the new Redbird simulator, a club acquisition project he was intimately involved with. It started with the club identifying that its old Precision Flight Controls simulator needed replacing. The initial intention was to buy a newer PFC five-screen static simulator until de Cotret did his instrument rating renewal at Cornwall Aviation in Cornwall, Ontario. There he flew their new Redbird full motion simulator and was struck by the capabilities that it offered for both IFR and VFR flight training. After some investigation he discovered that the Redbird is competitively priced and offers good value.
The Redbird has some unique features, including plug in instrument panels, throttle quadrants and other components that allow it to be quickly configured to represent a wide variety of light aircraft, including twins. The evening that Flight 8 members had a chance to fly it the simulator was set up as a Cessna 172, which is its most common configuration at RFC. Adding new aircraft types is as simple as purchasing the new plug-in panels.
The Redbird simulator weighs about 2000 lbs and cost in the neighbourhood of $100,000, including $10,000 for transportation and installation. Redbird provides maintenance for the first year as part of the purchase. The simulator operates on a single computer running Microsoft Flight Simulator and is approved by Transport Canada as a Level 2 flight training device. It can be used for IFR training, including instrument rating renewals, although not initial issues yet, as well as VFR training. In the private pilot syllabus up to five hours can be counted, including three hours of IFR. The club rents it for $95 per hour, plus the cost of an instructor, as there are no solo rentals. The $95 cost compares to a rental rate of $115 for a club Cessna 150.
RFC had only had the Redbird for a month at the the time of our visit and so they are still learning just what it can do for the club. So far it has been well received by club members and is a popular addition to the fleet.
COPA Flight 8 would like to thank Rockcliffe Flying Club and especially Jean Rene de Cotret for providing a great tour of their new equipment and facilities when we were short of a focus for our September meeting.
Accessing Flight Information Services via the RCO System
Flight 8 Meeting
By Mike Shaw
Rob Bishop, Service Analyst, Level of Service and Aeronautical Studies, Nav Canada, responded to a request from Flight 8’s captain Michael Shaw, to come to Flight 8’s meeting on to further explain his Aviation Safety Letter article, Accessing Flight Information Services via the RCO System, ASL 2/2010. Bishop also briefed members about changes to Ottawa’s airspace.
Bishop started his presentation by quickly outlining who Nav Canada is, how they are managed and financed. This article will not repeat this information in the interests of brevity.
Bishop explained that as most pilots likely have noticed that the enroute frequency 126.7 MHz was getting more and more congested over the years, Nav Canada devised a plan to give pilots an easier way to access Nav Canada’s enroute services. The plan essentially leaves 126.7 for enroute location broadcasts by any and all aircraft, especially instrument flights in uncontrolled airspace. This will allow pilots in the enroute phase of their flights to coordinate their activities with other pilots in the same area, to avoid collisions.
To achieve this it is necessary to give pilots other frequencies on which to contact Flight Information Centres (FIC) for enroute information services, such as filing position reports, pilot reports (pireps), not to mention getting up-to-date weather information and NOTAMs, pertinent to a pilot’s route. This is achieved by dedicated Remote Communication Outlets (RCO) frequencies at specific locations so the pilots can contact the appropriate FIC. Because 126.7 is to remain the primary frequency for pilots to make enroute location broadcasts, FICs will no longer monitor 126.7. In other words don’t try to call an FIC using 126.7, they will not be listening on that frequency in the future, rather use the closest RCO. FICs will however continue to broadcast significant weather and flight safety information to pilots on 126.7 as needed.
Bishop noted that pilots can find the RCO locations and frequencies for each FIC online. In flight, RCO locations and frequencies are shown on current charts and in the Canada Flight Supplement (CFS) under each FIC's entry. Wouldn’t it be nice if the appropriate RCO frequency were listed under each aerodrome entry in the CFS? Are you listening Nav Canada?
The changes to RCO frequencies affecting this area include:
Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport add 126.7 for broadcast from Quebec FIC, 123.15 remains the RCO on which to contact Quebec FIC (Quebec Radio) for flight information enroute services (FISE)
Gatineau Airport RCO to contact Quebec FIC now 123.37(5) for FISE
Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau Int’l contact Quebec Radio (FIC) via RCO 123.55, 126.7 remains for FIC broadcasts.
Kingston Airport contact London Radio (FIC) via RCO 123.55, 126.7 remains for FIC broadcasts.
As you will recall, to contact any FIC call the FIC’s "name" plus "radio", e.g. London Radio. I’m tired of hearing "FSS this..." and "FIC that..." in my head phones.
Finally Bishop discussed the changes taking place in the Ottawa area’s airspace. He discussed the following items:
Deletion of the Rockcliffe/Cumberland Visual Flight Rules (VFR) corridor. This was achieved by extending the Gatineau’s (CYND) southern control zone boundary further south into Orleans, excluding airspace below 700 feet above ground over the Ottawa River. It is not clear why the exclusion over the river? Surely Nav Canada is not trying to encourage NORDO traffic in this limited and dangerous airspace? This could be implemented immediately by Nav Canada without Ministerial approval because it is seen as an increased level of service. It is now in place.
Adding new Visual Flight Rules (VFR) checkpoints to the Ottawa VFR Terminal Procedures Chart in the Canada Flight Supplement (CFS) and upcoming Visual Terminal Area Chart (VTA) expected in spring . Note a monotone version of the VTA is located on the back of Montreal’s current VTA Air 1903. The new checkpoints include Bells Corners and Highway 16 at Century Rd and the town of Russell. These have been unofficial, but frequently used, checkpoints for years.
Lowered top of the Ottawa Control Zone from 4000 feet above ground to 3000 feet. Essentially the top 1000 feet of the control zone was moved to the responsibility of the terminal control unit. It’s now class D and not Class C airspace. This is seen as a lower level of service and requires Ministerial approval. It will be implemented when that approval is issued.
Increase the size of the training area by increasing the 4000 foot above sea level cut out to the western and north-eastern portions of the Terminal Control Area. This too is seen as a reduction in the level of service and requires Ministerial approval. Again it will be implemented when that approval is given.
Finally Bishop outlined temporary changes in the eastern edge of Montreal’s airspace to accommodate changed traffic patterns at Mirabel during runway reconstruction.
Next year a new RCO will be located at Foymount, Ontario to provide coverage to contact London FIC between Ottawa and North Bay, and over Algonquin area. For those who are wondering, Foymount is the highest populated point in Ontario at an elevation 1640 feet above sea level.
Flight 8 members questioned with whom Nav Canada consulted on changes made to airspace in the Ottawa Area. Several Flight 8 members who had been involved in previous consultations on Ottawa airspace wondered why they were not asked again for input. It seemed that Rockcliffe Flying Club was the primary non-Nav Canada stakeholder in the discussions about the enlargement of Gatineau’s MF area to south of the Ottawa River. Bishop noted that stakeholders are welcome to make inputs to any aviation studies, but the onus is on stakeholders to discover what studies are going on and get involved. Flight 8 members complained that Nav Canada could make a better effort to contact all stakeholders for such consultations. For example COPA Flight 8 has been in continuous operation since the 1990s but has never been contacted by Nav Canada.
Flight 8 thanks Bishop for his thorough presentation, and for kindly and patiently answering the million questions from Flight 8 members.
The Accidental Aviation Historian
Flight 8 Meeting
Although her entry into the field of aviation history was accidental there is nothing haphazard about Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail's first book, For the Love of Flying, The Story of Laurentian Air Services. Due to her Ottawa connections, COPA Flight 8 was fortunate to book Metcalfe-Chenail to come and speak to the flight for our meeting.
For Metcalfe-Chenail, getting into aviation history was truly an accident, although getting into the study of history in general was not, having completed a masters degree in the subject at the University of British Columbia. It was her father-in-law, John Kenny, who prompted her to write a bit of family history and that family is intimately connected to aviation and to COPA as well. Kenny not only owns a DHC-2 Beaver on amphib floats, but also the Cessna T182T that COPA president Kevin Psutka rents for business use. The COPA connection in the family runs much deeper than that, though. Kenny's cousin is COPA co-founder and present honourary director John Bogie, who also owned Laurentian Air Services at one time. Bogie came by his association with Laurentian though family connections, too, being the nephew of Laurentian co-founder Barnet Maclaren. Laurentian's other founder, Walter Deisher was also the first president of the Ottawa Flying Club. Aviation in Canada is a rather small community and author Metcalfe-Chenail's family is an intimate part of it.
Metcalfe-Chenail actually turned out to be a good choice to write the history of an airline. Her academic background has certainly given her the professional curiosity and the research tools she needed to take on the project. Being one of the few members of her family with no immediate aviation experience resulted in a book that has a particularly fresh perspective and avoids some of the usual cliches that aviation history books can succumb too.
The 224 page 6 3/4 X 9" volume includes an index, exceedingly detailed end notes exactly of the type you would expect in a book written by an MA and, as a bonus, a complete list of all the individual aircraft operated by Laurentian. Despite the academic thoroughness evident throughout the book, the text is eminently readable by the non-academic reader and has frequent excerpts from contemporary accounts, such as articles from Canadian Aviation, as well as quotations from Metcalfe-Chenail's many interviews with Laurentian's principals and employees. It all adds up to a very complete, well-researched and engaging account of the company, the people, the places and above all the aircraft they flew.
In reading the book it is not hard to see that from starting the project with little knowledge of aviation, Metcalfe-Chenail became enamoured of the people who made the history and especially the aircraft they flew. She has painstakingly located and included a myriad of previously unpublished aircraft photographs that speak volumes about how engaged she became in the subject of "old airplanes". The dead give-away is the inclusion of a section on the wide range of markings that Laurentian and its subsidiary, Air Schefferville's aircraft wore over the years. Most non-aviation background authors miss these sorts of details, not realizing how useful they are to not only aircraft enthusiasts, but scale model builders as well.
The text of the work itself follows the company from its founding in Ottawa during the Great Depression by Maclaren and Deisher using Deisher's deHavilland Puss Moth in . They quickly added Maclaren's Waco Standard Cabin YKS-6 biplane and started offering bush flying services to local timber and mining companies. It was in the new area of what Canadian Aviation termed "air tourism", delivering fisherman and skiers to their destinations, that the company really found its niche, however. In establishing facilities the company owned the Uplands Airfield (now called Ottawa (MacDonald-Cartier) International - CYOW) for a number of years until it was taken over by the Department of Transport.
The book traces the company from the Depression through the difficult days of the Second World War when fuel rationing made civil flying a challenge. The company turned to conducting engine overhauls for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan to survive, driven by Maclaren's strongly held conviction not to make a profit from the war effort.
After the war the company became one of the premier bush flying airlines in Eastern Canada, eventually owning the largest fleet of deHavilland Canada DHC-2 Beavers in the world and operating a fleet as diverse as the Cessna 305 Bird Dog, deHavilland Canada DHC-3 Otter, DHC-6 Twin Otter, Douglas DC-3 and the Grumman Goose amphibian.
Laurentian continued on until and its demise was mourned by many employees, retirees and customers. There will probably never be another bush airline that commanded the affection and respect that Laurentian did.
Author Metcalfe-Chenail has done a superb job in chronicling the company's history. Her well-balanced prose, photos, quotes and attention to detail make this a book that belongs on every aviation buff's bookshelf.
Love of Flying, The Story of Laurentian Air Services, by Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail is published by Robin Brass Studio of Montreal and has a suggested retail price of $32.95 in Canada and $36.95 in the USA. Her website is www.daniellemc.com.
COPA Flight 8 would like to thank Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail for coming to talk to our club. I think she feels that the group let her off lightly with our questions, since by her own reckoning almost half the people who attended her talk are in her book!
Touring Environment Canada's Aircraft Fleet
Flight 8 Meeting
COPA Flight 8's meeting diverged from the usual "guest speaker presentation" format as the flight convened at Environment Canada's hangars at the Ottawa International Airport for a tour of their fleet of aircraft.
The tour was conducted by EC's two aircraft maintenance engineers, John Mintha and Iain Bogie. Bogie's name should be familiar to COPA members as his father, John Bogie, was one of COPA's founders and remains an honourary COPA director today.
EC's fleet consists of two quite old aircraft, a Convair 580 and a DC-3. When we saw them they were both shoehorned into the two equally old Quick Reaction Alert hangars located at the south-east end of the airport. The QRA hangars were originally constructed in the s to house a single CF-100 Canuck interceptor each and later one CF-101 Voodoo each. Both the Convair and the Douglas require extraordinary measures to get them into their hangars. The Convair has its fin and rudder removed, the torque-links on the main gear disconnected and the aircraft towed into the hangar on a 45 degree angle to fit, while the DC-3 is rolled up ramps onto special dollies with castering wheels and then towed in sideways, wingtip first. The Convair's 400 lb rudder and 150 lb fin took three days to remove, to make the aircraft ready to be put in the hangar.
When the flight saw both aircraft they were undergoing maintenance. The Convair was in for repairs on its tail and also landing gear inspections, while the DC-3 had its Hamilton Standard propellers off and was having a new instrument panel installed and tested.
Both aircraft have interesting histories. The Convair started off life in as a piston-powered Convair 340. It was later converted to a CV 540 (for "Consolidated Vultee") by replacing its Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engines with Allison T56 turboprops, the same engines used on the C-130 Hercules. The aircraft's first owner was American Airlines and it later became a corporate transport for Johnson & Johnson amongst other companies. With Consolidated Aircraft long gone the type certificate is held today by a Canadian company, Kelowna Flightcraft who provide support for the type.
Aside from its Allison engines, the Convair also features a Garrett auxiliary power unit mounted in the tail cone. Essentially a small jet engine, the APU provides power for starting as well as heat and air conditioning. The Convair is pressurized and its maximum ceiling of 25,000 feet is determined by its 4.2 psi pressurization system that gives a 10,000 foot cabin at that altitude. Rather than turbine engine bleed air, which would be the norm on turbine aircraft, the pressurization system is driven by an engine-driven compressor pump on the right-hand engine, a vestige from its days as a piston airliner.
The Convair has a bare empty weight of about 35,000 lbs, a mission-equipped empty weight of 44,000 lbs and maximum gross weight of 58,156 lbs. Because it spent much of its life as an executive transport it has extra long range tanks installed, giving a total of 20,000 lbs of fuel capacity, all stored in sealed-bay wet wings. The regular tanks are outboard of the engines, with the long range tanks inboard.
The Convair's propellers are fairly unique as they are steel-bladed and hollow. The empty spaces in them are nitrogen-filled to inhibit corrosion.
Its airline and corporate flying days done, the Convair spends its time these days doing special projects, most recently for the Canadian Forces. For that customer it carried out trials on a new airborne radar system that will one day be fitted to the CP-140 Aurora long range patrol aircraft fleet. It has also been used for some esoteric missions, such as calibrating Radarsat while it was in orbit.
The DC-3 was built in as a military C-47, was originally owned by the RCAF and saw action during World War II. It is still equipped with the original engine type, two Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasps. Today the "Douglas Racer" is used by EC for environmental monitoring. One of its missions is tracing oceanic oil spills, for which it is equipped with a $10M laser system and an array of cameras. The DC-3 doesn't fly a lot and only logged 60 hours in .
Both aircraft are registered as "state aircraft", operate with standard certificates of airworthiness and are flown by EC pilots under a CAR 702 Aerial Work operating certificate. All modifications are under LSTAs, rather than have the aircraft on experimental flight permits.
Flight 8 would like to thank John Mintha and Iain Bogie for staying late on a Thursday evening to show us the great fleet of aircraft that they maintain.
For the meeting COPA Flight 8 invited local Ottawa pilot, former Cessna Cardinal owner and former COPA national staff member John Quarterman to come and speak to the flight about the future of oil and gasoline for transportation in general and aviation specifically.
The topic is one that is very general in scope, much more so than the usual subjects of Flight 8 meetings, but it greatly affects the future of aviation and the way society in general will look and work in the future, so it attracted a good turn out, mostly by pilots who are not very familiar with the issue.
Quarterman started out by explaining that he is not an oil industry analyst or insider, but just a pilot who has taken a great deal of interest in the oil industry that powers our planes. He mentioned that he has done extensive reading on the subject and attended a number of briefings on the subject, including those by the federal government's Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) to Canadian municipalities. He first became interested in the subject after reading The End of Cheap Oil - Global oil production of conventional oil will begin to decline sooner than most people think, probably within 10 years, a paper written by Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrere and published in the edition of Scientific American. What he has learned since he started studying the subject is a major factor in why he sold the aircraft in which he owned a share.
He started by quoting from US sources that the aviation industry uses 7% of the oil consumed. Quarterman emphasized that most of that is burned as jet fuel and avgas, making it one of the larger oil-burning sectors. In the US 60% of all the energy used each year comes from oil, more than all the other sources combined. Aircraft are especially susceptible to higher oil prices because there are no practical alternatives and also because of their typically large fill-ups, even for light aircraft.
Quarterman stressed that the world is not about to run out of oil, but over the past hundred years of extracting it we have found and used up all the high quality, easy to locate and cheap to extract oil sources. Now we have only oil sources that are hard to find, expensive to get at and, like the Alberta tar sands, yield a very low quality product that requires a lot of energy and money to turn into something that can be used.
Quarterman next showed a video of Jeff Rubin addressing The Business of Climate Change Conference in . Rubin is the former Chief Economist of CIBC World Markets, who quit that job to write a best-selling book about peak oil called Why Your World Is About To Get A Whole Lot Smaller. Rubin has a lot of credibility in the financial and oil markets because predictions he made about oil prices in the past have turned out to be remarkably accurate. In this video he has predicted that oil will cost US$225 a barrel by . If he is right then at the current comparison rates between oil and gasoline prices, automotive gasoline will retail in Canada for in the neighbourhood of $2.70 per litre and avgas would be expected to cost about $4.35 per litre, or about $16.45 per gallon then.
Rubin emphasizes in the video talk that the issue is "not about running out of oil, but about running out of oil that you can afford to burn". He predicts that, as indicated in the title of his book, that the biggest impact is that the global economy will be undone. Globalization is based on the fact that manufacturing of goods moves to where the costs of production are lowest, primarily driven by low wages and it assumes that the costs of then transporting those goods to market are a small factor. As Rubin explains, when high oil prices drive up the cost of moving goods to market, then it is cheaper to make steel in the USA at higher wage rates than to make it in China and ship it to the USA.
Rubin also spends some time examining oil depletion, indicating that as oil fields are drawn down and used up that new ones must be found. The cost of those new fields, deeper down, more expensive to find and develop and producing lower quality oil that requires more expensive refining, means that oil prices will have to go above US$100 per barrel and only climb from there, even if enough new fields can be found. One of the biggest factors is the fact that as fields of high quality light sweet crude are expended they are replaced by synthetic heavy oils from the tar sands. Another related problem is that in taking the Alberta tar sands from its current production of 1.2M barrels/day to 4M barrels per day as planned, the result will be a polluted tailing pond of the same area as the state of Florida. The environmental costs are very high.
As an economist Rubin spoke about the spike in oil prices that occurred in the summer of . He indicated that there has been lots of blame on speculators and other causes for the high prices but that the simple truth is that since the amount of conventional oil extracted each year has not increased while the demand for it has. This competition for an increasingly rare resource has to result in higher prices. He noted that oil companies always make public announcements when new oil discoveries are made, but never when old fields are depleted and taken out of service. With global oil demand at 86M barrels/day right now and at the current rate of field depletion, the world has to find 20M new barrels/day by just to keep current consumption, ignoring increasing demand.
Continuing on in the economics theme Rubin mentioned that normally when dealing with commodities, higher prices limit demand, but when oil went to $147 per barrel in demand actually increased. Oil demand actually has peaked in the USA, Canada, western Europe and Japan but other countries are driving the demand. Certainly China and India are increasing their oil demand, driven by new very cheap cars like India's $2500 Tata Nano and the Chinese Chery. The Nano Rubin described as a miracle, in that it allows lower income families to drive a car and as a disaster, as it creates millions of more oil consumers. He noted for every person giving up driving in the developed world there are ten people buying their first car in the developing world. Even while China and India are increasing their demand it is in the oil producing countries, like Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Russia that demand is soaring.
Have you ever filled your tank up in Caracas or Riyadh? If you did, you'll soon know. It's 25 cents in Caracas, it's about 50 cents in Saudi Arabia, but the point is it's 50 cents whether oil is $20 a barrel or whether oil is $200 a barrel, because that's just the way things are over there. OPEC is a very disparate place separated by history, religion, geography, but there's one common denominator: everybody has a God-given right to consume as much cheap fuel as they bloody well feel like it.
He goes on to point out that most electricity generation in the Middle East is gasoline or natural gas burning and that gasoline for electricity production is subsidized to a cost of 7 cents a gallon. This all adds up to increasing domestic demand from oil exporting countries as they cannibalize their exports to feed their domestic markets. As a result in Rubin predicted a return to oil prices over a $100 per barrel in /.
In discussing the - recession Rubin said that, despite what some people believe, it was not caused by sub-prime mortgages, noting that Japan and Germany went into recession long before the mortgage meltdown. That recession was caused by high oil prices derailing the global economy. He also indicated that some measures, such as bailing out obsolete industries like car manufacturers, was misguided. To avoid a peaking of GDP, subsequent loss of wealth and a break down of the economic system, countries will be forced to go from a global economy to a much more local economy. Rubin indicated that this will not be a government policy change, but will be market driven as imports will not be able to compete with local goods due to high transportation costs. As an example he pointed out how the current Chinese steel industry works, with ore from Brazil shipped to China for processing into steel and then shipped to North America all due to cheaper wages in China. A small increase in oil prices makes the Chinese wage advantage insignificant and that globe-wide steel supply chain uncompetitive.
Quarterman went on using his own slides to explain and expand the video's message, highlighting the most important point that "the discovery of oil supplies has fallen in a straight line from the s, while consumption and demand for oil has at the same time risen in an exponential curve upwards, with the two lines crossing in ." Quarterman went on through graphs and displays to show that the world has been emptying the global fuel tank ever since , practically guaranteeing a second major energy crisis in short order.
The first theory discussing the possible peaking and subsequent decline of world oil production was proposed in by Marion King Hubbert. Based on his modelling, Hubbert predicted that the US would reach a peak of oil production in and that the world would reach a peak in . US oil production actually peaked in and it is very likely that world production peaked in , although we will have to wait a few years to confirm that.
While Hubbert's predictions were very close, other oil economists have been less accurate and usually far too optimistic. For instance with its North Sea oil finds Britain and Norway became oil exporters. The North Sea was expected to peak in , but actually reached its peak in . In the UK became an oil importing country.
Chris Srebowski, writing in , indicated that the world was finding 12.5M barrels/day in new discoveries while losing 30M barrels/day in depletion, or the equivalent of two Saudi Arabias, in terms of production.
Quarterman did cover the area of renewable energy sources, indicating that the USA now has 6% renewables, mostly solar, geothermal and wind power, but it won't be enough to make up for the loss of oil production in the next few years nor soften the blow of very high oil prices.
When asked what individuals should do, Quarterman indicated that cutting your own oil consumption won't solve the problem on a global scale, because the oil market is world-wide, so a litre of oil you don't use will be burned by someone in China, India or Saudi Arabia. He did indicate that personally reducing your own oil dependence will help you when oil prices get too high for you to drive to work, if you have planned for that in advance.
One comment Quarterman made in answer to questions from the audience, was that aviators should be prepared for a change in society's thinking and attitudes, especially about individuals who waste or consume large amounts of fuel. He stated "the aviation custom of flying somewhere for a four-hundred-dollar hamburger may not be looked on well by a society that becomes aware of oil's scarcity and the impact of fuel costs on their standard of living".
Flight 8 would like to thank John Quarterman for coming into speak to us on this large and complex subject. The flight members realize that an hour and half is only enough to graze the surface of a game changing issue like this, but it was a good introduction to start people thinking about the subject.
COPA HQ Briefing
Flight 8 Meeting
Flight 8's meeting held in the end of February consisted of a briefing by COPA President and CEO, Kevin Psutka. It has been a number of years since COPA's President has given us an update on national issues, so there was a good turn out to hear what the priorities are.
Psutka started with a review of COPA membership numbers, indicating that the organization has seen its size shrink during the recent recession from a peak of about 18,500 paid members to its present 17,000. The year saw a 1.3% decline and a 2% loss. Psutka indicated this has been a common situation in previous economic recessions. He further noted that COPA loses about a quarter of its members each year and usually gains a similar number of new members, although in recent years member retention has improved. He also pointed out that, as reported in COPA Flight recently, the private civil aircraft fleet has continued to grow, albeit slowly, through the recession, although there is no way to accurately tell how many aircraft are being actively flown.
Psutka explained that the number one issue in personal aviation today is the future of airports and aerodromes. The country has about 730 certified airports of which about 80 are served by scheduled airline service. The future of the remainder of the airports in Canada are in doubt because Transport Canada has no policy or direction for these, except the flawed and outdated National Airports Policy. The NAP is more than 15 years old and has not been updated or even reviewed in that time. It continues to state that the country's airport infrastructure is overbuilt and that most airports and aerodromes are not needed. Psutka called on the government to review the NAP and come up with a more realistic policy for Canada.
Psutka went on to review the airport situation in some key locations around the country. He pointed out Edmonton as a particularly bad case, with city council having voted to close the City Centre Airport, Cooking Lake under active consideration for transfer from the Airport Authority to the tenants (although the tenants a do not seem to be keen on that plan), Villeneuve too far from the city and the International Airport virtually closed to non-airline traffic by restrictions on training flights and high landing fees.
In Toronto the airport situation is critical. Psutka pointed out that Buttonville will definitely close in the next few years, City Centre (Billy Bishop) is expanding to provide space for the airlines, but that will squeeze general aviation out and that there is no political will to proceed with the long-planned Pickering Airport. In the next few years Toronto could be left with virtually no viable home for personal aviation and with Buttonville closing the large number of aircraft located there will have nowhere to be based in the area. COPA has been advocating for relievers in the Toronto area, but so far no level of government seems to be taking the problem seriously.
Montreal also suffers from its share of airport issues, with Mascouche well on its way to being sold and redeveloped. Even though this contravenes the original deal by which the land was provided to the municipality, COPA received a legal opinion that pursuing this would not likely be successful. At St Hubert Airport the city council voted to ban piston aircraft operations on Sundays and evenings, although the matter is still under discussion with an upcoming meeting scheduled. Another Montreal area airport, Mirabel, is open to general aviation and even has a new FBO in operation, but it has a $15 landing fee and is located far from the city.
Psutka noted that in recent cases in Quebec that federal jurisdiction over aerodromes has been confirmed by the courts, but the province has appealed the issue to the Supreme Court of Canada. The case was heard on and a decision is pending. The outcome of this case will have serious repercussions on ownership of private aerodromes in Canada, whether the courts decide that the jurisdiction is federal or not or some compromise in between.
What Canada really needs, Psutka emphasized, is a complete review of the National Airports Policy and the creation of a national general aviation policy. To this end he explained that the government needs data on the contributions of general aviation to the economy. This is actually easy to do as the airline Electronic Collection of Air Transportation Statistics (eCATS) is now open for inputs from all aircraft owners and this data will be used to show the economic footprint of GA. Aircraft owners are encouraged to submit estimates of their flying activity at least annually on the TC eCATS website.
The next subject of interest was 406 MHz ELTs. Psutka reported that after the regulatory process had been completed including compromises in the regulations to allow for alternatives to 406 ELTs, that the Department of National Defence circumvented the process and made a case directly to Treasury Board that all aircraft should be equipped with 406 ELTs. The results of this have not been made public yet, but the Canada Gazette Part II pages on the subject should be published in the near future. COPA is working on contingency plans in case the government decides to require all aircraft to be equipped with these expensive and not particularly effective devices. Psutka emphasized that COPA members should plan to carry another device, such as SPOT or a PLB to make up for the shortcomings of the 406 ELT.
The next topic was security. Psutka mentioned that flying to the USA has become more complicated as the US Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) system is now mandatory. He indicated that it isn't as bad as it seems, but that many people are reluctant to try it and therefore the numbers of US-bound private flights have probably been reduced.
The issue of security also includes major international events held in Canada and the flight restrictions that come with them. The recent Winter Olympics are a good example, but there is an upcoming G8/G20 conference to be held in Ontario -. The conference has been expanded to the point where is looks like it will impact most of central Ontario from Toronto to Huntsville to North Bay and disrupt a lot of air traffic. As a result of the conference the COPA AGM Fly-in has been relocated. It was initially intended to be in North Bay that same weekend, but has now been moved to Summerside, PEI instead.
COPA Flight 8 thanks Kevin Psutka for taking time from his busy schedule at COPA HQ to come out to talk to us about current issues in aviation.
Flying the North Atlantic
Flight 8 Meeting
Back on COPA Flight 8 had Al Hepburn from Pembroke take us all on a virtual trip to Florida. Given the time of year that presentation went over very well and so Flight 8 captain Mike Shaw decided to invite Hepburn back in to brief us on a bigger adventure - flying the North Atlantic. The topic must have fired the imaginations of many flight members as the upper lounge of the Ottawa Flying Club was packed that evening.
Flying across the north Atlantic is a fairly technical subject these days in aviation and Hepburn has made the crossing eight times as part of his 5000 hours of flying experience on singles and twins. He has owned two Piper PA-30 Twin Comanches over 30 years and also has a Murphy Elite on amphib floats for fun.
His most recent Atlantic crossing in came about under odd circumstances - he wasn't intending to go on the trip in the first place. As part of his work with Air Journeys Hepburn's role had originally been that of briefer for a Cirrus SR-22G3 that was being relocated from Panama to Switzerland. The aircraft's owner, a 43 year old French women named Camila was moving the aircraft as part of her husband's career move. She had engaged a contract ferry pilot to make the crossing with her, but he got her as far as Hepburn's pre-departure briefing in Pembroke and decided not to complete the trip. That left Camila stuck and so, due to his experience on the route, her briefer became her ferry pilot, with blessings from Hepburn's wife, Carloyn.
The subsequent trip provided a good object lesson in North Atlantic trip planning and the flexibility needed for its execution. First off there was a large low sitting in northern Quebec near Kuujjuaq and another in the Greenland-Iceland gap. Negotiating both would take some planning and also some waiting. The weather dictates the route and so they took off and headed for La Grande Riviere, Quebec. The forecast did not pan out and this required a diversion to Moosonee, Ontario instead. The IFR approach into Moosonee required letting down through cloud something the IFR rated Camila had never done before. In Central America clouds are generally thunderstorms and even IFR pilots stay out of them. The weather picked up through Quebec enough to make Kuujjuaq a viable destination and they were off for an overnight stay. Kuujjuaq is north of the imaginary line that marks the "northern limit of pumped avgas", but Hepburn was prepared with a hose to siphon the whole drum they had to purchase. A longer hose would have eliminated the need to transfer the last amount by bucket though!
Flying into Greenland requires local expertise and one thing Hepburn was well aware of is that they close all the airports at 5 pm sharp there and charge US$900 to reopen them. You don't want to be late and you have to factor in the two hour time difference from Quebec, too! They departed with an IFR flight plan for the capital of the newly independent Greenland, Nuuk. Despite a faulty GPS fuel computer showing insufficient gas once past the point-of-no-return, they reprogrammed the GPS and landed at Nuuk 25 minutes before the airport closed and with enough fuel.
While waiting for the weather enroute to Iceland to clear they spent a day touring and even made a flight up the spectacular coast line to Ilulissat the next day. There they did a cruise of the fiords to watch glaciers giving birth to icebergs, which Hepburn described as "one of the most spectacular things I’ve seen in my life". At that latitude north of the Arctic Circle the sun doesn't set in August at all.
The next day, with the low clearing out, they set helm for Reykjavik, Iceland, with the only incident enroute a rough-running engine due to insufficient leaning in the climb to 15,000 feet. One ease-out of the mixture knob fixed that problem. Iceland's capital was busy with a large gay pride parade in progress when they arrived, but they fit in a day's touring including to Gullfoss to see the original "Geysir", the hotspring after which all others are named.
The next day it was on to Scotland to deal with Eurocontrol beyond the famous fix at RATSU. The leg went smoothly and at RATSU they passed into uncontrolled airspace, since controlled airspace is based at FL245 out there. Once making the Scottish coast they cancelled IFR and proceeded VFR along the rugged terrain where Hepburn had learned to fly in , finally landing at Prestwick.
Next was the final leg to Lausanne, Switzerland. The leg was easy to fly, but the flight planning was torturous, so it is a good thing that Hepburn knew the ropes and managed to get a flight plan officially validated and filed through the Brussels Central Flight Management Unit computer system. Finally they were off across Europe, most of the way in uncontrolled airspace again. At touch down in Lausanne they had covered 4,050 nm in 26 hours and 19 minutes of flying.
Camila was impressed enough with the trip that she wrote several articles on it that were published in Panamanian magazines.
Hepburn's slide show and talk provided much more detail than related here and was received very warmly by the capacity Flight 8 crowd in attendance. Once again Flight 8 would like to thank Al Hepburn and his wife, Carloyn, for coming all the way down from Pembroke to the Ottawa Flying Club to speak to us.
Flight 8 Avoids Accidental Learning Experiences
Flight 8 Meeting
COPA Flight 8's meeting for featured a presentation by Yves Jolicoeur, an accident investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB), based in Gatineau, Quebec. Being located in Ottawa, Flight 8 has access to a wide variety of guest speakers and we try to take advantage of that, whenever possible.
Jolicoeur started his presentation by giving information on his own background. He learned to fly in in Gatineau, flew fire patrols on Cessna 172s and 182s, charters on Cessna 310s and Piper Navajos and then moved into airline flying. He flew for First Air, Nationair and Air Club on aircraft as diverse as the Hawker Siddley HS 748, Airbus A310 and Boeing 727, 737 and 747. When he joined the TSB in Jolicoeur started in standards performance and later became an investigator.
Jolicoeur next moved on to explain the TSB, how it is organised and how it works. The TSB is based in Gatineau and has a total of eight offices around the country, investigating air, marine, rail and pipeline accidents. The organization is relatively small, with 240 employees to deal with the 4000 reported occurrences each year. Their role is to find out what happened, why and how it happened and then communicate to help avoid future occurrences.
Due to the high number of reported occurrences the TSB can't investigate them all so they focus on the ones that they think will result in the most lessons learned. The Flight 8 members in particular were interested in why the TSB investigates so few general aviation accidents and Jolicoeur indicated that the Board has a detailed policy to help decide which are investigated and which are just recorded. Ultimately it comes down to asking what we can learn from the accident. He also emphasized that the TSB does not assign blame and that its reports cannot be used in court cases, their role is strictly preventing future accidents though learning about the ones that have already occurred; he added that "there are no new accidents".
The TSB scales its investigations to the size of the accident. In the case of small investigations, the TSB might just assign an operations investigator and a technical investigator, plus any specialists needed. They would travel to the scene, examine the physical evidence, interview eyewitnesses and send samples to the TSB lab in Ottawa if required to carry out such tasks as analysing aircraft instrument needle impact marks. Once the field and post-field investigations are complete they will write a report, which the TSB aims to publish in both official languages within a year of the original accident.
Larger accidents are handled similarly to small ones, but may involve larger teams of TSB staff. Jolicoeur used the example of the crash of a Boeing 747 that ran off the end of the runway on take-off in Halifax. This investigation involved many dozens of TSB staff in many specialist areas. From the operations side they have specialists in air traffic services, airports, rescue and fire-fighting, performance, human factors, dealing with witnesses and cabin safety. From the technical staff they may make use of specialists in structures, systems, including cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders, power-plants, maintenance and site management. There will also be administrative and support staff to keep the large investigation running smoothly.
For the last part of his presentation Jolicoeur focussed on four general aviation accidents and one incident that highlighted a risk that is common in the fall and winter, continued VFR flight into deteriorating weather and resulting collision with objects and terrain. He provided photographs and narratives about a Cessna 150 collision with a large tower in fog, a Cessna U206 on floats that crashed in a valley while flying in low cloud and low visibility, a Bell 206B Jet Ranger that crashed into a frozen lake in white-out conditions and a Eurocopter EC120B helicopter that crashed in heavy rain after its windshield fogged up at very low altitude. Jolicoeur's final tale was of a very low-time Cessna 172 pilot flying from Gatineau to Val d'Or, Quebec, who made very bad weather decisions and ended up on top of 6000 feet of cloud, but who, through "superior use of luck" alone managed to survive his flight to fly another day.
Flight 8 would like to thank Yves Jolicoeur and the TSB for this interesting and engaging presentation.
Progress At Carp Airport
Flight 8 Meeting
COPA Flight 8 Ottawa's October meeting was held at the Carp Airport FBO building and drew a good crowd of pilots and aircraft owners all interested in hearing about the state of the plans for the development of Carp Airport.
Our speaker was John E. Phillips, President of West Capital Developments, the company that owns and operates the Carp Airport and has had extensive plans for some time for a large residential and industrial development at the airport. Most Flight members were expecting to have seen houses built at Carp before this year and wanted to find out what the story was and in particular how the ongoing economic situation had impacted WCD's plans.
Phillips is known for his direct approach and he didn't mince words about the airport's plans when he admitted that the process was well behind his initially envisioned schedule.
He started the project nine years ago, in , with the simple aim of building himself a house at the airport. In he formally started the plan to take over running the airport from the City of Ottawa and develop it. He indicated that the various plans and approvals were all complete by when the "economic meltdown", as he put it, changed everything dramatically. Financing became difficult to get and builders who were at one time interested in the project were no longer interested. But, as Phillips explained, the project is now back on track. The airport's hangars are full of aircraft and the existing office and other facilities are all in use.
The Aerospace Flight Test Training Centre is a joint project of Marinvent Inc of Montreal, Gladstone Aerospace Corporation Inc of Ottawa and the Empire Test Pilot School, a division of QinetiQ Corporation of the United Kingdom. The Centre is already running two week introductory courses for Canadian Forces military technicians newly posted to the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment at CFB Cold Lake. The first course is to introduce students to flight testing avionics and will be followed up by fixed-wing and rotary-wing courses, all taught at Carp. The Centre operates a Piaggio P.180 Avanti, a Piper PA-42 Cheyenne and a flight simulator.
The residential plan has gone through a numbers of changes due to the recession. Originally the concept was that prospective home owners would buy a lot and contract one of a number of builders working on the development to build a house of any design they wanted. Under this plan deposits had been accepted on 17 lots, but when the plan came impossible to pursue due to the economy, the deposits were all refunded and the housing development concept started over again. The current plan involves a single builder who will begin early in constructing homes from a list of designs. The lots available vary in size, but the smallest is 100 feet wide by 190 feet deep. The builder will sell lots and build houses for buyers, but may also construct model homes or build some houses to sell them when complete.
The water system has received its final approvals and will consist of a trickle-down water supply pipe from the Village of Carp, with a local reservoir. The sewage system will include the common collection of waste water, which will be cleaned and returned underground, with each house storing its own solids in a tank to be pumped out every few years. The entire water supply and disposal system will be owned by a homeowners condominium corporation and operated by the system builder under contract for 20 years.
Homeowners living on the airport will pay airport maintenance fees, amounting to about $125 per year, to contribute to snow clearing and other airport work. They will also pay a monthly condo fee of about $150 towards the taxiways and other private airside components of the housing development.
The construction of phase one of both the residential and industrial airpark developments is set to get under way in early , starting with clearing trees on the south side of runway 10-28 once the ground freezes this winter.
COPA Flight 8 members appreciated the update of the plans for Carp Airport from Phillips and are hoping to watch the construction unfold in early .
APS is owned by Canadians, but operates from Arizona to take advantage of the US market and the year-round warm VFR weather available there. The Flight 8 meeting was well advertised and the topic obviously got the attention of the local pilot population as it was well attended.
As part of the training course APS produces a DVD for its students featuring complete raw video coverage of all their unusual attitude recovery training flights. Holtom took the DVD footage and edited it down into short clips that illustrated his presentation, emphasising the various upsets and recoveries, including recoveries from wake turbulence, as well as from skidding and slipping turns. On the course he learned that an airplane, or even a glider, can climb when stalled and that an airplane can fly under full control well below its stall speed, provided that down elevator is used to decrease the loading below one g.
Holtom's presentation was entitled No Puke, No Glory as he was airsick nine times in the four training days. Apparently this didn't deter him as he has indicated that he is returning to APS in for some more.
For the meeting of COPA Flight 8 Ottawa, Flight Captain Mike Shaw prevailed upon the CF Speakers' Bureau to provide us with a briefing on the world of Canadian Forces (CF) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The bureau sent Major Andrew McCorquodale, an Air Combat Systems Officer who is currently on staff with the Directorate of Air Requirements at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa.
Maj McCorquodale started his presentation by explaining that his classification, Air Combat Systems Officer was, until recently, called Air Navigator. The occupation has been renamed to indicate the new scope it encompasses, which will soon include piloting UAVs. As he explained, UAVs are currently flown by CF pilots, but this role under-employs them. Training ACSOs to fly UAVs will require additional training, but it moves the profession into the 21st century and gives them a much-needed role in the new air force.
Maj McCorquodale provided some background on his own experiences. He was initially trained as a long range patrol navigator, flying on the CP-140 Aurora anti-submarine warfare aircraft. In this capacity he served on Operation Apollo in the Persian Gulf, from to . After that he took the opportunity to get involved in the growing CF UAV world and deployed to Afghanistan from to with the UAV Troop, flying the CU-161 Sperwer (Pronounced Spehr-vehr, Dutch for Sparrowhawk).
Maj McCorquodale emphasised that while the CF still refer to these as "UAVs" in most other parts of the world they are called "UAS" for Unmanned Aerial Systems, acknowledging that the air vehicle is just a small part of the overall package that gets the job done. In addition to the aircraft, there is the mission payload, communications, a ground data terminal, a ground control station, a method of disseminating the information gained including perhaps even a remote video terminal at the supported ground unit. Some UAS have remote ground control stations, that may not even be in the same country as the air vehicle, with control exercised by satellite link. In this case there will be an additional crew to launch and recover the aircraft. UAS are complex systems and may well involve many more people to operate them than a conventional manned aircraft, but they offer unique capabilities that manned aircraft cannot match, such as very long on-station loiter times and a lack of crew being killed in the event of a shoot-down in a battle zone.
UAVs are still relatively new in warfare, compared to manned aircraft. While manned aircraft first saw combat in the first UAVs were used in the Vietnam War and by Israel, in the s. It was really in the 1990s Balkans conflict that UAVs became widely used and they have been employed extensively in the 21st century Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
UAVs are only as useful as their mission payloads. Commonly they can be used to carry: cameras, electro-optical sensors, infra-red sensors, synthetic aperture radar, laser designators, laser pointers, maritime radar and precision guided weapons, such as the Hellfire air-to-surface missile. UAVs today range in size from palm-sized to the 32,500 lb Global Hawk which has replaced the U-2 and SR-71 in US service.
The CF's first UAV was the French-built SAGEM CU-161 Sperwer, which was purchased for use in Afghanistan, entered service in and is now retired, with its last flight on . The CU-161 was rail-launched and recovered by parachute and air-bag. It had a operational radius of 80 km and a 16,000 foot ceiling, doing most of its surveillance by day and night from 15,000 feet, where it could not be heard and was very hard to visually detect. In Afghanistan Canadian Sperwers flew 4,300 hours over 1,300 missions. While the Sperwer was not an ideal UAV, it did get the job of providing day and night video reconnaissance to the ground forces done adequately and was credited by the army commanders with saving many Canadian lives, while scoring notable success against the enemy.
The Sperwer has now been replaced in Canadian service by the Israeli Aircraft Industries CU-170 Heron or Machatz-1 as it is known in Israel. The Heron is launched and recovered on wheels from a runway and fills the same day/night surveillance Medium Altitude-Long Endurance role that the Sperwer did, observing silently from 15,000 feet.
The Herons are leased from Canadian Defence contractor MacDonald Dettwiler and are considered an interim aircraft for the CF. They will eventually be replaced by the system that is chosen under the ongoing Joint Unmanned Surveillance Target Acquisition System (JUSTAS) project. The JUSTAS will replace the Heron around and is expected to remain the primary air force UAV until 2032. The specification calls for a 1000+ km operational radius, 40,000 foot operating altitude, IFR certified all-weather aircraft that will be capable of carrying weapons. It will be able to operate in icing conditions and as well as rain and snow. Unlike the Sperwer and Heron which are controlled by line-of-sight radio communications, the JUSTAS will be capable of control via satellite, allowing the ground control station to be located out of the battle theatre. The JUSTAS project is still in process and an air vehicle has not be selected yet.
The CF land forces are also using the much smaller Boeing ScanEagle, which has a 16 hour endurance and is rail-launched and recovered by wire, eliminating the need for an airfield.
Maj McCorquodale addressed the questions posed by Flight 8 members regarding the use of Canadian military UAVs in Canadian Domestic Airspace. He indicated that right now UAVs do not have the ability to see-and-avoid other aircraft, but that with the role envisioned for the JUSTAS aircraft it would not conflict with general aviation traffic. He indicated that the JUSTAS UAV, when operating in Canada would depart from an airport IFR, would quickly climb to its operating altitude in high-level airspace where it would operate in an airspace reservation. On recovery it would conduct an IFR approach to landing, having remained in Class A, B and C airspace under IFR for the whole mission.
When asked how accepted UAVs are in Canada's Air Force, Maj McCorquodale admitted that he military pilot community are afraid that UAVs will put them out of business and mentioned the US development of air combat UAVs that is under way. As far as CF use is concerned he emphasised that UAVs are not envisioned to replace any manned aircraft, but are used in a complementary fashion to cover current capability gaps that exist.
Flight 8 would like to thank Maj McCorquodale for taking time to come out to address us on this interesting facet of military aviation. We are sure that we all hear a lot more about UAVs in the future as many more military and civil aviation missions are done with them.
How to Learn to Stop Worrying and Love 406
Flight 8 Meeting
The subject of 406 MHz ELTs has been controversial in Canada for several years. Certainly COPA has made plain their opposition to the devices over the past ten years, while many people in the government have been quite keen to require aircraft owners to go out and buy them.
Some recent events have brought 406 ELTs to the forefront of aviation discussion again. First, as of the old 121.5 and 243.0 MHz ELTs no longer have satellites listening to them. Second, the new Transport Canada CAR dealing with ELT requirements that took so many years to get through the regulatory process, was stopped by the Minister. While it offered the hope of alternatives to 406 ELTs, the regulation itself was written such than none of the alternatives qualify for use in aircraft.
Against this backdrop COPA Flight 8 invited Carole Smith from the National Search and Rescue Secretariat (NSS) to give her presentation "The Switch to 406: Information on 406 MHz ELTs" at the flight meeting. Smith has given this presentation across the country to pilots and AMEs as part of the NSS public relations effort to spur 406 adoption from its current lacklustre levels, especially amongst private aircraft owners.
She started off her presentation by explaining that she is personally a private pilot, COPA and CASARA member and part owner of a Cessna 172 that is equipped with a 406 ELT. She works for NSS, which is the organization that is supposed to coordinate SAR in Canada amongst the various organizations involved, including the Canadian Forces, Coast Guard, CASARA, RCMP and many local agencies and volunteer groups. As such NSS reports to the lead minister for SAR in Canada, the Minister of National Defence.
Smith's presentation gave a history of the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite system that became operational in . The system located its first aircraft crash on , a Canadian Cessna 182. Today the system consists of packages on five low-earth polar orbit weather satellites as well as on geostationary weather satellites. The geostationary packages provide almost instant alerting anywhere in the world below 75 degrees north and south.
Currently the system picks up aeronautical ELTs, Marine EPIRBs and PLBs all on 406 MHz only. Smith reported that, worldwide, there were 600,000 registered 406 beacons of all types as of .
After a run-down on how SAR is organized in Canada, Smith explained how the 406 ELT works. Once activated it puts out a primary digital 5W signal every 48-52 seconds on 406 MHz and also a 0.025-0.1W analog homing signal on 121.5/243.0 MHz. The 406 ELT has a remote cockpit switch to allow testing and also to allow in-air activation prior to an impact. All 406 ELTs also have an integral buzzer that allows anyone outside the aircraft on the ground to identify which aircraft is transmitting. The digital 406 signal includes a 15 character unique hex code that identifies the specific aircraft.
In the past the 121.5 ELTs used to allow COSPAS-SARSAT to determine a location to a radius of about 20 km, giving a search area of 1260 sq km. A 406 ELT gives an accuracy radius of 3 km, for an area of 28 sq km. With GPS data added to the 406 signal it can give a position to a radius of 100 metres, for an area of 0.031 sq km.
Smith included some reliability information on the old and new systems. She reports that when a 121.5 signal was received only one in eight came from an ELT. The balance were from bank ATMs, big screen TVs, stadium scoreboards and even pirated satellite TV cards, amongst other spurious sources. With the 406 signals all are from beacons, although to date only one in sixteen have been actual emergencies. She attributes most of these false alarms to installation work being done on 406 ELTs that result in an activation.
In covering installation requirements, Smith emphasized that if the aircraft has a later model 121.5 MHz ELT that the mounting tray and some other hardware may be reusable, thus making the installation quicker and less expensive. She also mentioned that not only must the new 406 beacon be programmed with the correct 24 bit ICAO address for the individual aircraft, but that the beacon must be registered. Registration can be accomplished on-line and also by phone, fax or mail-in form. Foreign beacons, such as those purchased from the USA, cannot be used in a Canadian aircraft until they have been recoded with the correct codes for Canada, A78, A79, 278 or 279. 24 bit ICAO addresses are now available on the TC Civil Aircraft Register on the entry for each individual aircraft.
Smith explained that the rules have been changed on 406 ELT installations recently and now an AME can install a 406 ELT in an aircraft. An avionics AMO is only required to do installations of 406 ELTs that have remote connections for GPS.
Testing the 406 ELTs is done in a similar manner to the old ELTs, during the first five minutes of the UTC hour for a maximum of five seconds. The aircraft radio will receive the 121.5 homing signal and the buzzer should be audible as well, proving the set works. It is important to report false alarms to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in your area or to the Canadian Mission Control Centre in Trenton, as, with the geostationary satellites on watch, even a brief false alarm will identify your aircraft and start a communications search to ensure that there is no distress situation.
One of the most controversial aspects of the 406 ELT issue has been the time line involved. Smith mentioned that the 40 nation COSPAS-SARSAT organization made the decision in to change to using 406 MHz exclusively on . They thought that almost nine year's notice would give ample time for governments and individuals to act, although, in the case of Canada, the rules are far from completed or in place.
Smith went over the advantages of 406 ELTs, including better accuracy, that the digital 406 signals can be stored by the satellites and retransmitted to the ground station when in sight and that the land and marine users of beacons have already switched to 406 MHz. She did admit that 406 ELTs are not inexpensive and that the installation requirements are rigorous and take more labour to complete. NSS indicates that they think that most small aircraft owners should be able to purchase a 406 ELT and have it installed for about Cdn$2500.
One of the concerns that NSS has currently is that, even though the old 121.5 beacons are no longer monitored by satellites and only listened out for by ATC, FSS and other aircraft when in range, very few aircraft have installed 406 ELTs so far. Smith reports that while 57% of state-owned aircraft have been equipped, only 38% of commercial aircraft and 7% of private aircraft have done so.
Smith discussed why owners have been reluctant to install 406 ELTs, including concerns about reliability, lack of model choice, interest in alternatives, the fact that there is no regulation in place requiring 406 ELTs and, of course, cost. In addressing these concerns she indicated that reliability has been quite good so far, 74% of 121.5 ELT-equipped aircraft that crashed between - transmitted a signal that located the aircraft. 406 ELT success data is too sparse to be conclusive so far, but is expected to be better than 74%. The model choice is improving along with the prices, with models now available in the US$1100 range. As far as alternative devices are concerned the requirements are stringent and include automatic activation. This is, of course, the issue that caused the Minister of Transport to send the regulation back to TC to be rewritten. Smith admitted that it wasn't clear what the next regulatory steps would be, whether the rules will go back to CARAC for consultation or when a new proposed rule would be forthcoming.
Flight 8 would like to thank Carole Smith for coming to talk to us about 406 ELTs. It isn't easy to convince a group of pilots that they should spend a large amount of money on a device that they will probably never need, but she did a good job of answering the questions that the flight members posed and it was interesting to hear the NSS perspective on the controversy.
Flight 8 Hosts Garth Wallace
Flight 8 Meeting
Here in Ottawa we are fortunate to have easy access to so many great guest speakers. We have Transport Canada and Nav Canada's headquarters in town, along with the Transportation Safety Board and the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada, too. We also have Canada's most beloved aviation humourist, Garth Wallace, who lives not too many miles from Ottawa and who is on tour with his latest book, The Smile High Club.
For our April meeting we were fortunate to sign up Wallace to come and speak to the flight at our usual meeting venue, The Ottawa Flying Club, on 22 April. The flight had a very good turnout which filled the spacious upper lounge at the club with members and a notable number of non-flying spouses present, too.
Wallace was introduced by Flight 8 Captain, Mike Shaw, who simply insisted that he is so well known to aviators that no introduction was necessary.
Wallace started off by recalling the first time he was invited to speak to Flight 8 many years ago. He reported that he had indicated that he would be happy to talk to any aviation group, as long as they are friendly, have a sense of humour and are willing to spend some money buying his books. The Flight representative had asked if he was still willing to come out for two out of three.
On a serious note Wallace mentioned that aviation clubs are probably more important today then they ever have been in the past, due to the difficult economy, fewer people getting into flying and many people dropping out of it. He is of the opinion that belonging to a club helps people stay in aviation and that makes clubs very important at this point in history.
Wallace went briefly over the aviation background that has given him with so many stories to write about. He has about 12,000 flying hours and taught probably about 1000 different students to fly on wheels, floats and skis. Flight instructors don't make a lot of money, he stated, but they do meet a wealth of funny and interesting people along the way.
Teaching flying was a busy job and while it provided lots of material, it didn't leave him much time for writing. It was when Wallace became a corporate pilot, flying a turboprop out of Toronto, that he found time to write. As he describes, corporate flying involves a lot of "Hurry up and wait" - time spent waiting for executives to finish meetings and he started using this wait-time to write down his instructing stories and finish his first book. Later, when he was COPA's Publisher, Wallace met then-COPA director Francois Bougie. Bougie has been the illustrator for Wallace's books ever since, contributing the many cartoons that grace the covers and show fanciful interpretations of some of the characters and the scrapes they got into throughout the stories.
With ten books completed, Wallace says that he is now half way through the stories from his flying career and so figures he has enough material left to complete another ten books, at least.
After giving Flight 8 this brief background, Wallace launched into a series of stories from his flying career. Unlike many speakers these days, Wallace doesn't do a PowerPoint slide shows. Instead he tells his stories with simple descriptions and gestures that captivate audiences in much the way that old time story tellers did in years gone by.
Wallace told three stories, the first involved an elderly lady student and a zero "g" mouse. The second was about teaching an ex-navy rating to fly from scratch on floats, including his refusal to go solo. The final story was one from his current book, The Smile High Club, about a first flying lesson given to a rough lumberjack from northern Ontario, who had severe bladder limitations.
Wallace finished off the evening by offering his current stable of books available for sale and he sold quite a number to members of the Flight looking to pick up his latest work or complete their Garth Wallace libraries. Wallace's books are available through his website, through a long list of aviation book stores or by telephone: 613-269-2552 and fax: 613-269-3962.
Flight 8 would like to thank Garth for coming out to entertain us. Other clubs interested in engaging Garth for an evening of funny flying stories can contact him via e-mail.
Flight 8 Takes a Virtual Trip to Florida
Flight 8 Meeting
COPA Flight 8's March meeting was appropriately enough for this time of year, a trip to West Palm Beach, Florida or at least a virtual trip. Our guide for the journey was Al Hepburn from Pembroke, Ontario. The meeting was well-advertised and had a very high attendance, buoyed by members of the Ottawa Flying Club.
Hepburn is an experienced pilot, having learned to fly in , holding an ATPL-A and having flown his own Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche on many long flights. He is also a tour director with Air Journey.
Hepburn started his virtual trips when he noticed that most pilots based in the Pembroke area never ventured far from the circuit. He wanted to take some steps to encourage them to fly further afield and particularly into the USA to make better use of their aircraft and get more from flying.
Hepburn's virtual flight consisted of a rundown of the rules pilots need to know for a longer, cross-border flight and then a "walk-though" of what the pilot will see on an actual trip. Even though Hepburn holds an instrument rating and flies his PA-30 most often IFR, the trip he covered was aimed at the average pilot and so assumed a VFR Cessna 172. This meant that the greatest factor in a trip from Pembroke to West Palm Beach and back in March would be the weather. As Hepburn explained, "It is cold in Ontario and warm in Florida, somewhere in between you will find a front to fly though."
The first part of his two-hour slide show consisted of a review of the rules, focusing on the differences between flying in Canada and the USA. Hepburn explained the new border-crossing rules and US Customs notification requirements. He emphasized that while you are required to gain clearance for the trip through the US eAPIS web-based system for you and your passengers, the old requirements to phone US Customs and notify them as well, remain in place. He covered several unexpected traps for the unwary pilot, such as the fact that the Nav Canada web-based e-filing system won't accept cross-border flight plans and that these have to be filed by phone instead with the FIC.
Hepburn also detailed the US transponder and communication requirements for flying over the border southbound and northbound. Other preflight topics included the US Customs decal, requirements for overflights between points in Canada that fly through US airspace and having a US Customs Form 178 already completed when you land.
In detailing the new eAPIS system he covered the fact that you have to report and be cleared in both directions, not just while flying into the USA, but also when leaving it, too. Hepburn went on to cover Canadian Customs requirements, flight planning in the USA and traffic pattern differences, too, such as the fact that American circuits do not include joining crosswind overhead. The extensive slides also included US NOTAMs, MOAs, restricted areas, TFRs, DUATS and the free services that repackage DUATS, the uses of XM Weather and American communications procedures. Hepburn even mentioned dealing with American accents on the radio as, even though he has been in Canada himself for 40 years, his Scottish origins are still evident in his speech. He went on to cover subjects as diverse as using the internet to shop for the best US gas prices, as they currently vary greatly and dealing with Canadian cellphone provider roaming charges.
To make the theoretical flight a realistic weather exercise and not just an academic lecture, Hepburn picked dates in for his theoretical trip and tracked the actual and forecast weather in real time, making notes and saving screen shots of the weather maps, METARs and TAFs as they occurred. He then showed the decision making process during the days leading up to the departure and on the morning of the flight. He continued with the decision-making in-flight, examining the snow showers coming off Lake Erie in the Buffalo area on the radar and the extensive quasi-stationary front sitting though southern Georgia and northern Florida.
Hepburn showed how in-flight weather information can make decision-making easier, but that it can still be a challenge to get to Florida VFR in the wintertime. Pilots need to be very flexible in their routing, have the mapping information available in case they need to go much further west or east on their trips south and north and be prepared to stay for a while enroute. The virtual C-172 flight did end up with an unplanned night in Georgia waiting for acceptable weather to make the final leg into central Florida, the stationary front providing low ceilings and visibilities to negotiate.
Hepburn's presentation was very thorough and left Flight 8 members with no illusions as to the details of conducting such a trip. For those pilots who have never done a long-distance cross-border flight, especially in the Canadian winter, they took home a good appreciation for the points to consider and most of all the process of weather decision-making.
COPA Flight 8 would like to thank Al Hepburn for coming down to Ottawa from Pembroke to speak to us and especially for the time it took to create the detailed slide show presentation he gave.
COPA Flight 8's meeting featured a presentation by Clare McEwan of Air Safaris International. This was actually the second time that McEwan has spoken to Flight 8, but since the previous time was in it seemed to be a good time to invite him back again. Much has changed in the past three years!
The Flight 8 meeting of January 29th turned out to be a good day to think about a flying tour of Australia, as Ottawa spent the day enduring a substantial snow storm. The weather, combined with it being day 50 of the seemingly endless transit strike did make for difficult traffic and unfortunately the turnout was below Flight 8's usual numbers. Still we had a small crowd for McEwan's slides of warmer climes.
McEwan started Air Safaris International in . He partners with the Charisma Travel Group to provide his customers with all the usual protection that tour operators can offer in this age. He also has partnerships with several Australian aeroclubs, who provide the aircraft that the pilot-tourists whom McEwan brings to that country fly. McEwan's role is to organize the tours, recruit the pilots and non-pilots who will make up each group, take care of the considerable amounts of paperwork involved and then act as tour director "in-country", while everyone is there.
McEwan's presentation featured stunning photos of Australia's topography throughout, from the vast scrub deserts that most of us think of as being typically Australian, to the lush coastal ranges and the islands of the north and east coast.
He started off with a look at the land and its rich flying heritage. Being a sparsely populated country of almost three million square miles, it is little surprise that aviation has played a big part in its history and continues to do so today. McEwan mentioned in particular the famous Flying Doctor Service that was founded in by Reverend John Flynn that still serves the remote communities.
Away from the coastal mountains, the centre of the continent where most of the Air Safari tours venture is very flat. High daytime temperatures over 40C can send the density altitude over the 5000 foot mark on many days and present challenges for pilots flying the usual Cessna 172s that the tour uses. McEwan prefers the newer 180 hp 172S as it provides just a bit more performance. Other aircraft are also available, including 182s and low-wing designs on request. Pilots do a brief insurance-mandated check ride at the beginning of the tour.
Flying in Australia involves negotiating the Class C and D airspace that is found in the coastal areas of New South Wales, not to mention many poorly charted military restricted areas that require some attention to avoid. Once in the interior of the continent, uncontrolled airspace and Common Traffic Advisory Frequencies (CTAF) instead of ATC are the rule! Away from the coast the radios are usually quiet, although the outback is home to a good deal of NORDO traffic, so a good lookout is recommended near the back-country airstrips. Fortunately most remote airstrips only get busy due to the arrival of the Air Safari participants.
The weather is usually good for flying in Australia, although occasionally fronts can bring thunderstorms and rain to skirt around. Some outback strips are only usable when dry and so if there has been rain phone calls for runway reports are required, all handled by the tour leader, of course. The wet season runs from November to March and features heat and clear air in the mornings with great visibility and monsoons in the afternoons. The dry season, June to September, brings cooler, hazy weather and convective turbulence in the lower levels.
Most municipal and larger airports in Australia are similar to those found in Canada for layout and facilities, except that many feature high perimeter fences to keep Kangaroos off the runways. Fuel can come from facilities ranging from sophisticated in-ground refueling bowsers to barrels in the back of a hand-drawn cart pumped by a rotary hand-pump - all part of the adventure of outback flying.
The reality of operating from some of the remote station airstrips that the safari visits means pilots will pick up new skills, such as doing rolling run-ups to avoid dinged props. Navigation is primarily by GPS, backed up by map reading, as NDBs and VORs are far apart. Flying in the outback is relatively safe as out-landings can be conducted anywhere on the flat terrain. Reassuringly the country has an efficient SAR system so carrying water is the key to survival here.
The air safari experience usually consists of up to eight aircraft with two people per plane. The aircraft will depart on each leg together and generally arrive at the next destination at roughly the same time, having done their own independent navigation enroute. There is no formation flying done. McEwan plans the trips so that there is a mix of flying and non-flying days on each tour. As he explains, flying everyday would make for a grueling trip and this is supposed to be a vacation!
The different tour routes that McEwan has planned and flown cover many different parts of the country, although there is never enough time to see it all. Participants will visit larger centres and well known places, like Uluru (Ayers Rock) as well as smaller locations off the beaten path, such as William Creek (population 6) which features a unique space junk museum.
Accommodation on the safari varies by location and runs the range from quite opulent hotels to more austere, but comfortable B&Bs. Most safari tours include numerous BBQs, picnics and pub nights. Tours typically run 14-21 days and can cover as much as 3400 nm or more. The tours are "all inclusive" at one price. This includes absolutely everything: aircraft rental, fuel, food, accommodation, insurance and gratuities. Many tours even include a river cruise right in the outback, as water levels permit. All participants are expected to do is show up and fly!
To fly on a tour you need a minimum of a Private Pilot Licence, a current medical and currency on a Cessna 172, 182 or similar aircraft. You can fly with a local pilot or fly solo if you prefer. For those flying as PIC, McEwan requires 250 hours total time and cross-country experience, plus a sense of adventure and a desire to explore. McEwan also recommends that pilots bring their own familiar portable GPS from home as the outback is not the best place to learn a new set.
Most past participants on McEwan's tours have found the real challenge is not the flying but the paperwork. The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) requires foreign pilots to get an aviation reference number, a special pilot licence (based on your home country licence and good for day-VFR only) and an Aviation Security Identification Card (ASIC) which is good for two years. This all means many forms to fill out and submit, well in advance, but fortunately McEwan has done it successfully many times and provides ample assistance to Air Safarists.
McEwan feels that flying on an Air Safari versus flying yourself solo in Australia offers some worthwhile benefits, including greater safety in numbers, the trips are easier and more efficient and, due to the other pilots on the tour, a richer experience.
McEwan admits that the fluctuations in the exchange rate between the Canadian and Australian dollar has been a challenge since most of his safari participants book and provide deposits long in advance of the actual trip. His policy has been to set prices for the year based on his best estimates and not to change prices based on currency changes as the year progresses.
The current economic situation has impacted the tours, as McEwan explained that some of his participants have placed deposits for and then asked to move them forward to . McEwan has no problem with this, as he realises that there is a degree of uncertainty these days that wasn't present in past years.
With five seasons of running Australian flying tours under his belt McEwan reports with some justifiable pride that in the post-vacation assessments that he asks all participants to complete that the ratings have been consistently very high - participants uniformly enjoy the safaris and the flying down under.
COPA Flight 8's meeting was a very complete rundown on the SPOT satellite personal tracking device presented by Michael Mulley, Distribution Manager with Globalstar Canada Satellite. Globalstar is the company that builds and sells the SPOT and also provides the satellite tracking service that makes it work.
SPOT is a completely unique service that was just launched a year ago in . Already there are 12,000 units in service in Canada alone and a much larger number in use worldwide. It is used by pilots, of course, but it is also popular with anyone who needs to let others know where they are, almost anywhere in the world.
Here is how SPOT works. You buy the small lightweight SPOT device and carry it with you. By activating the service for your SPOT with Globalstar you have access to a range of services. SPOT includes a GPS chip, so when you turn it on it quickly locates you and sends your location to one of Globalstar's 48 low-earth orbit satellites 1400 km up, via a simplex L-band connection. The satellite then relays your location to one of the 25 local gateway earth stations, like the Canadian ones at Smiths Falls, Ontario or High River, Alberta. The message giving your location is then sent to whomever you want it sent to, as you previously detailed in your account instructions. It can be delivered by text message, e-mail or plotted on a website map. It can also be sent to an emergency response centre for rescue action.
That is the basics, but there are lots of details and options available. First the device: SPOT can be purchased in many retail stores, such as Canadian Tire, Future Shop and Best Buy. The usual retail price is $169.99, but in late there was a $60 rebate offer available and retail stores often discount the units as well. The SPOT is light, it weighs just 209 grams, it floats in water and is waterproof to 1 metre for 30 minutes, a feature that makes it popular with boaters. It is small at 11 X 7 X 4 cm. It will operate between -40C and +85C and from 300 feet below sea level to 21,300 feet above sea level. It will tolerate high humidity and salt fog as well. It puts out a fairly low-powered signal of just 83 mW and runs on two replaceable AA lithium batteries that should last a year in normal use. Replacing the batteries with new lithium AAs will cost about $20.
The satellite service costs US$99.99 per year. This includes Globalstar's "Alert 9-1-1" service, which means you can hit the button and the unit will transmit a distress message including your identification and location every five minutes until it is cancelled. Emergency responders from the appropriate local rescue agency will be sent to your location, depending where you are. The "9-1-1" button is intentionally designed to be hard to activate by accident. This response service is provided by Geos, a certified 911 response provider based in Houston, Texas.
The "check-in" service will send your contact list a text message or e-mail to let them know where you are. The message text is user selectable and includes your latitude and longitude and a link to a Google Maps satellite photo. This is usually used to let your contacts know that everything is okay. The "Help" message works similarly to the "check-in" but is designed for not-urgent situations where you need someone on your contact list to come and get you. It sends your preprogrammed message to your list every five minutes for an hour. Your contact list can include any ten e-mail or text addresses you like and has a message limit of 115 characters.
For an additional US$49.99 per year you can buy the "Track Progress" service. This provides the ability to automatically send your present location to a private website so your contacts can follow your trip in close-to-real time. It provides position fixes every ten minutes for up to 24 hours at a time. You can also save your way-points to review later. This service can be very useful as a training aid for flight debriefings.
An extra service is the Geos Search and Rescue Benefit. For US$7.95 per year (only at the time of purchase of the unit) you get up to $100,000 in SAR response, including helicopter extraction anywhere in the world, with a limit of US$50,000 per incident. This is an insurance policy underwritten by insurers at Lloyd's of London.
Once you purchase the SPOT device itself everything else is accomplished through the the SPOT website. There you can find out more about the unit and the service, establish an account, set up your contacts, profiles and pay for your services, too. The tracking service only retains tracks for 30 days, so the website allows you to download and save old tracks, before they are overwritten.
While a boon for hikers, hunters and boaters, SPOT has some obvious uses for pilots. In tracking mode it enables you to let your loved ones know where you are and follow your in-flight progress. It will also summon help for you if you signal "911" in an emergency. It could also be used to find you, in the tracking mode, as you will be found within 10 minutes travelling time from the last transmitted position if it is destroyed on impact, or right at the last repeated position if it survives the accident.
The most common question COPA Flight 8 members had was about the SPOT's ability to replace a conventional ELT. Using the SPOT to locate downed aircraft seems obvious. The main failing of traditional ELTs is that most of them don't survive the crash - broken antennas, sunken or burnt aircraft and impact damage make ELTs unlikely to survive the accident and they often don't. Logically it makes much more sense rather than to rely on a device that must turn on when an accident happens, to have one that turns off when an accident happens. That way it doesn't have to survive the crash. Naturally Transport Canada and the military SAR forces have some issues with SPOT. The first is that it can't be homed, particularly if it was destroyed in the accident. The other issue is that the ten minute position reporting isn't accurate enough. An aircraft that travels at 180 knots with a SPOT reporting every ten minutes would travel 30 nm in between reports. If it went missing then the SPOT would locate it only within a circle of a diameter of 60 nm and an area to search of 2827 sq nm.
So at present SPOT will not replace your ELT, but COPA HQ is working on the issue with Transport Canada and Globalstar and we hope to hear more in the future.
Flight 8 would like to thank Micheal Mulley for coming to speak to the Flight in Ottawa from his office in Mississauga. The briefing on this innovative device and service was greatly appreciated. The SPOT website is findmespot.ca.
Was Ist Fluggeschwindigkeit?
Flight 8 Meeting
By Adam Hunt, COPA Flight 8
For the meeting of COPA Flight 8, Ottawa we arranged a special guest speaker, Rob Erdos, National Research Council Test Pilot. When he isn't doing research test flying for the government, Erdos spends his spare time flying rare aircraft for the Vintage Wings flying museum at Gatineau Airport.
Vintage Wings operates an unusual fleet of antique aircraft, with an emphasis on World War Two fighter types. Erdos' duties at the Vintage Wings hangar include flying the British aircraft, including the Spitfire XVI and the Hurricane IV. If regularly flying these two classic fighters isn't enough, Vintage Wings also provides maintenance expertise to another flying museum, the Russell Aviation Group of Niagara Falls. Not only does the Russell Group have a Spitfire IX and a Hurricane XII, they have a very rare fighter, a Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4.
Because of his familiarity with the British fighters and his background in flight testing, Erdos was invited to do the test flying on the 109, a task he eagerly agreed to.
There are very few pilots in the world today who have flown any of the Spitfire, Hurricane or Bf 109 and perhaps only a handful who have flown all three, so Flight 8 was very pleased to have Erdos come and compare them in a presentation he entitled "The Battle of Britain Fighters – a Flight Test Perspective".
Erdos started his presentation by emphasising that his perspective is not that of a fighter pilot, but of a professional test pilot, although he is an air show demonstration pilot and so regularly flies formation and aerobatics. He also mentioned that the three aircraft he is comparing are not from the same era, as the 109E is really a pre-war aircraft while the Spitfire XVI is a mark from much later in the war. His approach was to contrast the three aircraft in each phase of flight and provide comparisons.
Erdos emphasized that all three aircraft were from an era before ergonomics had been invented and that the designers of each aircraft installed things where they fit, often without regard for the pilot who had to make it work in the air.
The Spitfire cockpit features an unusual control stick, hinged at the floor for elevator movement but hinged just below the two-handed “spade grip” at the top for aileron movement. This was done because the cockpit is too narrow for a conventional stick arrangement.
Erdos described the various Spitfire instruments and controls as being “thrown in at random”. The aircraft does have some novel features, such as a single lever on the stick for the pneumatic brakes. Once the lever is squeezed the brakes are varied using the rudder pedals. Not only the brakes are pneumatic, but so are the flaps, gun breeches, radiator doors and supercharger gear shifting, all run from a single engine-driven air compressor. The landing gear retraction is run on hydraulics, however.
Getting onto the wing of the Hurricane is a challenge, as the trailing edge is very high, so the designers built in a retractable stirrup to help with the process. The Hurricane features a very high canopy railing; when sitting in the aircraft the canopy sill is just below chin height.
Inside the Hurricane cockpit the steel tube and fabric construction is evident. There are no floorboards in this very utilitarian environment and anything dropped, like a pencil, is lost.
The Messerschmitt features semi-reclined seating for “g” tolerance, a very advanced feature for its day. The 109 cockpit is tiny, Erdos explained, even for pilots of smaller stature. With the hinged canopy closed the clearances around the head and shoulders are close to nil.
The German aircraft has some unusual cockpit features, such as concentric trim and flap actuation wheels, that actually allow both to be moved together, an idea that works well when extending the manual flaps, which requires simultaneous trimming.
The Russell 109 is authentic in almost every respect, having been actually flown in the Battle of Britain as well as on the Russian Front. It once was the personal aircraft of famed Luftwaffe ace Hans-Joachim Marseille. The authenticity of this aircraft means that all the instruments are in unfamiliar metric units, such as oil pressure in kg/cm2. Even the airspeed indicator does not indicate airspeed in knots or mph, but instead indicates fluggeschwindigkeit in km/h.
Erdos reports that all three aircraft are challenging taildraggers on the ground. All are blind ahead to some extent, although the Hurricane less so and all require “S” turns while taxiing. The British fighters have the unusual lever brakes to make things more complex, while the 109 has conventional toe brakes, perhaps its only virtue on the ground.
Of the three, the Hurricane sits most level and has the best field of view. The Spitfire is very nose heavy and can be nosed-over at idle while standing still with the brakes on, if the elevators are not held full back. It is also very blind on the ground, due to the long nose and the aircraft is prone to engine overheating.
The German fighter is conversely very tail heavy, which at least allows judicious use of the brakes although the long nose also renders it blind on the ground and the tighter cockpit and the need to have the side-hinged canopy closed to taxi, makes seeing very difficult.
The Spitfire's large propeller means the aircraft cannot have its tail raised to level on the ground, or the prop will strike the ground. This requires that it be flown off and landed from a three-point attitude. It also means that the visibility is as poor on take-off as when taxiing.
On the take-off in the Spitfire full power must be applied judiciously and the left turning tendencies of the aircraft, caused by an additive combination of engine torque, slipstream effect (P-factor) and asymmetric thrust, must all be overcome.
The Hurricane, Erdos reports, is much more conventional and less demanding on take-off, although it does suffer from a slow undercarriage retraction speed and a very low maximum gear-extended airspeed of just 104 knots, requires a steep climb on take-off until the gear is up and locked.
The 109 suffers from its toed-out, very narrow and forward pointing landing gear, which can cause the aircraft to swerve on the ground. Erdos reports that the locking tail-wheel must be locked or the aircraft will crash on take-off every time.
The Spitfire is well-known for its superb handling qualities, stemming from a control system with no friction and no free-play (slop) at all. The aircraft has control harmony reversed from the norm. Usually aircraft are designed so that the ailerons are lightest, then the elevator and the rudders are heaviest in a ratio of 1:2:4. The Spitfire has a very light elevator and heavier roll control. Erdos notes that the ailerons get very heavy above 340 knots.
In contrast to the Spitfire's zero-friction controls, the Hurricane's control system uses bushings instead of bearings and the result is high system friction. The aircraft has weak to negative static longitudinal stability, meaning that the nose doesn't tend to return to the trimmed attitude, but stays where it is aimed. It has an unusual yaw-pitch couple as well and is not as fast as the other two fighters. The aircraft does have a fast roll rate, even faster than the Spitfire. In flight, due to the routing of the cooling lines and other utilities, the cockpit gets very hot and most flights are flown with the canopy open.
The Messerschmitt design has a fin and rudder that are just too small and so it has poor directional stability, making the pilot work to keep it pointed in the right direction. There is no rudder trim and the elevator controls are very heavy at higher speeds. The ailerons have so much travel that they can actually stall in flight, causing a loss of effectiveness and stick vibrations. Unlike the British fighters the 109 has only manual adjustment of the prop pitch via an electric switch requiring the pilot to continuously “beep” the prop rpm in maneuvering flight.
Erdos admits that he doesn’t have much air combat experience, but says that the Spitfire and the Bf 109 are very well matched. The Spitfire has a lower wing-loading at 22 lb/sq ft compared to the 109's much higher 32 lb/sq ft. The 109 is a small aircraft with a small wing, a low coefficient of drag and it accelerates quickly with the nose down. The Spitfire's elliptical wing is ideal to minimize induced drag and so it retains energy and hence airspeed better than the 109 in a tight turn. The combination of the Spitfire's lower wing loading and wing planform means it can turn more tightly than the 109 can. The 109's strengths would have made diving attacks rather than turning combat their preferred engagement.
With its two 7.92 mm machine guns and two MG-FF/M 20 mm wing cannons the 109 had a good firepower advantage over the eight gun .303 armed Spitfires and Hurricanes that it met in the Battle of Britain, although later Spitfires and Hurricanes added 20 mm cannons of their own.
Approach and Landing
All three fighters are flown in a military overhead break, rather than a conventional square circuit. This is a requirement because of the long noses on these aircraft. Final approach has to be a curving path so the runway can be kept in sight. A straight-in approach, as flown in a typical light aircraft would mean that the runway would not be visible at all.
In the overhead break all three aircraft are flown similarly, with about 220 knots airspeed at initial, 130 knots downwind and about 85 knots on the curving base to final turn.
The Spitfire is again very blind on landing and must be three-pointed due to the large propeller. Because it is so nose heavy, brakes must be avoided to prevent a nose over and prop-strike. Ground time must be kept short to avoid overheating the Merlin engine.
The Hurricane can be landed three-point or “wheeled-on” and lands much better with some power held into the flare. At idle the prop acts as an air brake and pulling power above the ground results in a drop to the ground immediately. Due to the downwash from the wing and the large flaps the Hurricane's horizontal stabiliser operates in disturbed air at higher angles of attack and a three-point landing requires large elevator movements. Erdos reports that wheel landings are easier.
The 109, with its manual flaps, requires a longer break to allow a longer downwind to extend the flaps by cranking the wheel and trim together. Like the Spitfire, in other than a curving final, the runway disappears for the 109 pilot. As on takeoff the landing gear geometry makes the aircraft a handful on landing and while taxiing. Also as on takeoff the full-swivelling tailwheel must be locked to avoid a flip into the weeds. Unlike the Spitfire, because the Messerschmitt is very tail heavy, brakes can be used fearlessly when needed, allowing the aircraft to be flown into quite short runways of as little as 1300 feet.
Erdos notes that each of the three fighters has its strengths and weaknesses and a good fighter pilot would learn to use the strengths of his mount against the weaknesses of his opponent.
Which one does Erdos rate as the best of the three?
Not the 109. Its lack of a prop governor results in a high pilot workload and its poorly designed landing gear and worse ergonomics make it less than ideal.
Not the Hurricane either. It's lack of speed for the horsepower and its handling deficiencies make it a second rate fighter for its day.
That leaves the Spitfire on top, despite its overheating and ground handling problems it is still a better aircraft than the other two.
COPA Flight 8 would like to thank Rob Erdos for his fascinating presentation. The impressions of a modern test pilot on the details of these three famous fighters truly was the next best thing to flying all three yourself, something few of the flight members will have the chance to do.
Spotting Marijuana From The Air
Flight 8 Meeting
COPA Flight 8's meeting featured Detective Chris Dobler from the Ontario Provincial Police's Ottawa Drug Section. Detective Dobler presented a lively illustrated talk on marijuana cultivation to engage the private pilot community in reporting illegal drug crops.
The OPP drug squad has over 80 officers in ten deployed operational units in Ontario. They also make use of seconded officers from local OPP detachments when needed for counter-drug operations.
Marijuana cultivation is big business in Ontario, is growing rapidly and is carried out largely by organized crime. Profits from even small operations can run into the millions of dollars. Canadian-grown marijuana is very high quality and averages 12% Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the active ingredient. The OPP have found some local crops that have as much as 35% THC, making Ontario marijuana the most potent in the world. Much of the crop grown in Ontario is exported to the USA and although there is very little data, marijuana may well be Canada's #1 export. A single medium-sized cannabis plant can yield 4 ounces of marijuana and be worth $1000, once harvested. A single large field can net over $100 million.
Detective Dobler emphasized that Canada's lower penalties and culture of rehabilitation versus punishment compared to the USA, have some positive benefits for those fighting the drug problem in Ontario. Much of the violence that marks the drug trade in other countries is not found in Canada, including booby trapped grow ops and gun fights over drug busts. Drug growers are happier to see the OPP arrive to arrest them than see rival gang members turn up.
Detective Dobler gave a detailed description of how the plants are cultivated. Over the winter slips or clippings are made from a female "mother" plant and these are then grown indoors under artificial light, often using stolen electrical power to avoid creating suspiciously high hydro bills. The slips are all made from female plants because the presence of even one male plant will cause the female plants to all go to seed instead of flowering. It is the blooms or "buds" that the growers want as that is where the THC is concentrated.
After the last frost in the spring the plants are moved from the clandestine labs to fields to take advantage of the maximum available sunshine. They may be planted within areas of other crops, such as cut-outs in corn fields, or in wooded areas. They may even be in their own fields in plain view. In many cases they are planted with other crops covertly, without the knowledge of the farmer or landowner.
Once the plants are harvested in the fall, usually after the first frost, they are cut, hung to dry, trimmed and bagged before being sold locally on the streets or exported to the USA.
Detective Dobler showed many aerial photos taken during OPP helicopter drug operations illustrating what the plants look like from the air and how they are often hidden. In particular the plants have a very bright and shiny green colour in the fall when they are mature. They stand out from other crops in the fields and are very easy to spot.
Detective Dobler emphasized that if you spot marijuana growing, note the location and call the local OPP drug section or make a confidential report to CrimeStoppers. The OPP investigate these tips from the public and then either conduct a bust or an eradication operation. In eradication, the plants are removed and destroyed, without necessarily making arrests, as a measure to keep the drugs from reaching the streets. The OPP pays rewards for the information they receive in an attempt to stem the growing drug problem in Canada.
Flight 8 Tours Vintage Wings at Gatineau Airport
Flight 8 Meeting
The July COPA Flight 8 meeting was a real treat as Flight 8 member and Vintage Wings volunteer Terry Cooper organized a tour of the Vintage Wings Hangar at the Gatineau Airport.
Fifteen Flight 8 members toured the hangar of this flying museum and had a very interesting evening with the extensive collection housed there.
The meeting of COPA Flight 8 Ottawa afforded a rare chance to see one of the world's largest aviation museums – The China Aviation Museum at Datangshan mountain.
We didn't manage to take all the flight members to China to see the museum, but we were able to get the next best thing – Mike Shaw's slide show.
COPA Flight 8 Captain, Mike Shaw, spent most of April in China and Japan. To say that Mike is enjoying retirement would be an understatement. Aside from his volunteer work with Flight 8 and the Short Wing Piper Club, Mike also gets to occasionally accompany his wife, Gail, on her business trips. This one took Gail to the Far East and Mike who decided to go along. Since Gail was there working, this left Mike with time to enjoy the Chinese food, breathe the very polluted air of Beijing, climb the Great Wall and tour some museums as well. In Japan it was sushi and a visit to the A-bombing memorial in Hiroshima.
Of course the chance to make the trip 40 km north of Beijing to the China Aviation Museum was the aviation highlight of the trip. The museum was first opened on to mark the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Peoples Liberation Army Air Force. It that time the outside world was astonished at the huge collection of aircraft that had been preserved at the former Shahe air base. The collection includes over 200 aircraft and rivals some of the biggest museums in the world. Its collection is unique, with a high number of indigenous Chinese and Soviet military aircraft, including some types not seen anywhere else.
Many of the larger aircraft are parked outdoors, where the acid rain and other environmental conditions obviously take a toll on them. Most of the smaller aircraft have indoor display space inside the underground bunker tunneled into the rock of Datangshan mountain. The bunker or tunnel itself is a marvel. It measures 586 m (1905 ft) long by 11 m (36 ft) high and 40 m (130 ft) wide. It was cut into the mountain's rock to provide bomb-proof hangar space when the Shahe air base was the heart of the Chinese Cold War effort.
The China Aviation Museum covers the history of civil and military aviation in the country, with special emphasis on the Korean War and the Cold War. It starts with a display on the Wright Brothers and even features a replica of the Wright Flyer.
Civil types are represented by several airliners in the outside storage area and a few smaller types indoors including the Nanjing Aviation College AD200 canard ultralight two-seater student project sport aircraft and a small blue gyroplane that bore no placard.
Mike Shaw reports that the museum is not heavily supervised and visitors are free to roam anywhere they like without escort. Very few aircraft are roped off and there are no prohibitions of climbing on or sitting in the aircraft in the outdoor displays. Most of the aircraft have identifying placards, but many are in Chinese only. When Shaw was there just a few visitors wandered the huge site, with even fewer staff around.
Of course the main focus of the museum is military aviation. In many ways the museum still looks like an operational air base, with lines of MiGs parked under the watchful gaze of Type 59 100mm anti-aircraft guns.
Unlike many museums, this one does not seem to have traded duplicate examples of aircraft with other museums to provide a wider assortment on display and there are many aircraft of the same type or variants of the same type there.
Many versions of the Shenyang J-6 (called the F-6 for export) are on display, including the J-6-IV flown by Xu Kaitong when he shot down a US reconnaissance drone on . The J-6 was based on the Russian MiG-19.
Some of the highlights of Shaw's slide show included:
A cut-away display of a MiG-17 Fresco fighter
The Lenin biplane
Tachikawa 99 trainer
A deHavilland Mosquito bomber
Several aircraft that were flown over Tiananmen Square during the celebrations of the communist victory, including a Fairchild PT-19 trainer and a North American P-51 Mustang
Yak 11 trainer
The Tuplolev TU-2 bomber that shot down a US F-86 Sabre
Yak-17 UTI trainer
Nanchang CJ-5 and CJ-6 trainers
Lavochkin LA-11 piston fighter
Licence built MiG-17s (Shenyang F-5) that shot down US F-84s, F-86 Sabres, F-4B Phantoms and even an RB-57 Canberra recce bomber
The Nanchang A-5 attack bomber that dropped an A-bomb during a test bombing
The F-7 supersonic fighter that shot down 4 US recce drones
Many helicopters including Alouette III, Mil-8 Hip, Mil-24 Hind, Mil-4 Hound and even a Bell UH-1H Huey
Several airliners, such as the Tupolev TU-124, a Vickers Viscount, a Hawker Siddeley Trident and the DC-8 once used by Orbis for eye surgery which the organization used as a flying teaching hospital to train 25,000 doctors
Many bombs, guns and radar systems
There was even one familiar Canadian aircraft - a deHavilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, resplendent in PLA Air Force markings.
One of the highlight displays is the Ilyushin Il-18V four-engined turbo-prop transport that was Mao Zedong's personal VIP aircraft. The aircraft is beautifully preserved, right down to the lavender curtains and the on-board bed in which Mao slept.
The museum even has a back-lot of old vehicles, including army command and control trucks and even some old Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik attack aircraft, their steel skins rusting in the sunshine.
Overall Shaw reports that the China Aviation Museum is well worth the visit for anyone who has a day to spare while in Beijing.
Shaw also indicates that he found both China and Japan to be great destinations for visits. In both cases the people were very friendly, the food great and the sights too many to see in one trip.
Jeff Cochrane, Nav Canada's Manager CNS Service Design, was our guest speaker for the COPA Flight 8 meeting. Cochrane is a commercial pilot and former flight instructor who flies the new CRJ200 for Nav Canada in their flight evaluation program. He is also one of the key company people in the implementation of WAAS, the Wide area Augmentation System for GPS in Canada. As part of that role he is Canadian representative to the ICAO Navigation Systems Panel. Nav Canada's involvement in GPS and WAAS at ICAO ensures that fielded systems comply with international requirements and are compatible with other systems similar to WAAS around the world, including the European European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), Japanese Multi-functional Satellite Augmentation System (MSAS) and the Indian GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) systems under development.
Cochrane started his presentation to the Flight with background on what WAAS is. Essentially WAAS is a system that monitors the GPS signals to improve accuracy to user aircraft. Most of the errors in GPS data are caused by fluctuations in the earth's ionosphere which slows down radio signal propagation and introduces time-of-arrival (TOA) errors. This error is measured by the receivers in the WAAS ground-based reference stations, through comparing their own surveyed location to the received location calculated from the TOA signal from the GPS satellites. A master station then compiles the corrections for all of North America and then broadcasts corrections and ranging data to receiving aircraft, through a pair of geostationary satellites.
At present the operational system comprises 38 reference stations, of which four are in Canada at Gander, Goose Bay, Iqaluit and Winnipeg. These Canadian stations consist of US loaned equipment, cited and maintained by Nav Canada. The Canadian stations were all integrated into the network in , along with five stations in Mexico.
The system also has three master stations, four ground earth stations and broadcast packages on two geostationary satellites all controlled by two operational control stations.
Currently unaugmented GPS signals are capable of accuracies of two to three metres in the horizontal and three to four metres vertically, 95% of the time. With WAAS augmentation the accuracy can be improved and the reliability of that accuracy is greatly enhanced.
WAAS provides many advantages to Nav Canada and also to user aircraft. It is capable of an enroute accuracy of 0.02 nm with the required level of integrity. This will eventually allow a reduction in ground-based navaids. It permits publicly available Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV) approaches to be conducted with a one to two meter accuracy and the level of integrity that is expected with ILS, all to locations with no ground navaids.
Cochrane assured the Flight 8 members that LPV is not intended to replace ILS at those locations which already have ILS approaches. Instead it is being used to bring ILS-like accuracy to new locations. Nav Canada is, in fact, replacing older ILS ground installations with newer units. These are solid state ILS units that provide only front course guidance and lack the back course that older ILS equipment provided.
Cochrane also reviewed the equipment needed to make use of WAAS for IFR flight. To fly LPV approaches this means having a panel-mounted WAAS-equipped GPS receiver or Flight Management System (FMS). Aircraft equipped with non-WAAS GPS receivers will be limited to LNAV approaches, which lack the vertical guidance of the LPV approach.
Cochrane also gave a view into the future of WAAS and GPS. High on the list is a broadcast payload on an additional geostationary satellite to improve Canadian east coast WAAS coverage.
Dual frequency GPS is also coming, starting in 2015. This will eventually negate the need for WAAS, as it will provide its own corrections, based on data from the two different frequencies. Support for single frequency GPS will be preserved until 2028, but after that everyone will need a new dual frequency receiver to make use of the system.
It is also planned to integrate the European Galileo and next generation GPS III to improve performance and reliability.
Currently Nav Canada is hand-designing LPV approaches for airports in Canada. The company had hoped to have an automated tool available to do the design work, but approvals from Transport Canada for the standard upon which the tool is based have not been forthcoming and this has greatly slowed availability of these approaches and thus the greatest advantages of WAAS to Canadians.
Cochrane's briefing was well received by the members of COPA Flight 8 and prompted many thoughtful questions on GPS and WAAS equipment and procedures.
How to Pass the IFR Flight Test
Flight 8 Meeting
by Ruth Merkis-Hunt
Flight 8 members ordinarily meet at the Ottawa Flying Club for their monthly Wednesday night meeting and last night should have been no exception...except that it was. For reasons which remain a mystery as of the time of this writing, the doors to the flying club were closed and locked tight. Nobody knew why but, given the increasing number of members who were arriving on this chilled November night, it was increasingly evident that we needed a place to meet – and right away!
COPA Flight 8 member Dennis Pharoah saved the night by offering the use of his office at the Transportation Safety Board of Canada to hold the meeting. With 22 people we would need more than an office. We wound up gathered in one of the TSB's conference rooms, which was markedly warmer than hanging around outside on a cold November night!
With that problem solved, the meeting could begin. Ray Beland, Transport Canada Lead Flight Training Inspector in Ottawa, came to speak to us about passing the IFR flight test. He began by outlining what topics he wanted to cover. They included familiarizing pilots with the 4-point marking scale examiners use in assessing candidates as well as understanding the tolerances examiners use when grading individual exercises. Beland also wanted to review the changes made to the IFR Flight Test Guide (FTG), common errors candidates make and how to avoid them and, finally, a few scenarios for us to consider and how we would have graded them. The scenarios, Beland added, were from on actual flight tests.
Beland then asked us “Why fly IFR?” The reason's included that you can fly above the weather and in smoother air. It is not comfortable being bounced around the skies and so climbing above the turbulent lower layers solves that dilemma. Another reason is that IFR flight increases the chances of getting to destination and back. Not being held back by poor weather means increased flexibility and fewer cancelled trips. A third advantage is that ATC shares responsibility for traffic separation.
Yet, for all the advantages of flying IFR, there are some constraints, most notably having to deal with icing. The example Beland gave was about pilots facing broken cloud layers, scud and other weather up to a certain altitude only to face icing conditions above the weather. This tied into his next constraint, that of aircraft not suitably equipped for IFR flying. Particularly, Beland mentioned the need for redundant navigation equipment, especially when flying north where fewer navigation facilities exist, along with weather avoidance equipment, such as on-board weather radar and stormscope. A final constraint centered around the lack of proficiency that plagues many IFR pilots. It's challenging to remain current on IFR flying, stated Beland, although not impossible.
The next topic was the 4-point marking scale and the application of the various tolerances examiners use in grading candidates. Essentially, a mark of “4” means the candidate exceeded the standards for the exercise. In other words “excellent”. A mark of “3” means the candidate met the standard with only a few minor deviations. A grade of “2” means the candidate's performance met the basic standard with occasional deviations which went beyond limits but which were recognized and corrected without compromising safety. A grade of “1” means the candidate's performance was below standard with unacceptable deviations. Essentially, the difference between a mark of “1” and a mark of “2” lies in whether the candidate recognized and corrected the error.
The issue of safety was a major point brought up by Beland as he discussed the elements of the marking scheme itself. Observations examiners make on the candidate's performance play a role in the grade is given. Some of the elements mentioned include: the overall performance of the candidate in meeting the criteria for the test item, overall aircraft handling, technical skills and knowledge of the aircraft systems, situational awareness, especially to do with shifting weather and traffic in the area and flight management skills. For instance, Beland said, how well the pilot organizes the cockpit itself, such as map placement, can certainly influence the candidate's grade.
But, how good is “good”; and what do examiners mean by “stays within acceptable tolerances”? This is where the application of tolerances for any given exercise comes into play. In short, to earn a mark of “3” means that the candidate was able to fly the aircraft on a given heading, plus or minus 10 degrees, at a given airspeed plus or minus 10 knots and at a prescribed altitude, plus or minus 100 feet. Flight that remained well within those limits would net the candidate a grade of “4” (excellent), while anything outside those limits would result in a mark of either “2” or “1” depending on whether the candidate recognized and corrected. Of course, anything that threatens the safety of the flight or where a candidate's deviations were more than doubled the allowable limit would result in a “1”, even if the candidate recognized and corrected the error. Of course, examiners do take weather conditions, including turbulence into consideration and have a certain degree of discretionary powers when assessing grades.
The changes to the IFR FTG were numerous but overall candidates are expected to demonstrate much better knowledge and proficiency. For instance, Exercise 8 - Approaches, now makes cold temperature compensation for altimeter errors mandatory for temperatures below 0°C. In Exercise 2, IFR operational knowledge is now a ground item, rather than an air item, with Beland mentioning that candidates who fail 1 “ground item” do not do the flight.
Examiners are looking for demonstrated competence, good judgment and decision making, as Exercise 1B – Flight Planning states. In particular, examiners want to see candidates think far enough ahead that they can formulate and state a plan for virtually any situation, especially when it comes to deteriorating weather at the destination and alternate, loss of navigation equipment and in fuel management. Good judgement also allows for the flexibility of the candidate to execute a missed approach if the conditions warrant.
Beland talked about some of the more common errors candidates make, emphasizing that they are all avoidable. They include not having the most up to date weather information and especially not knowing the difference between PROB and TEMPO in the TAF. Weak communication skills, incomplete flight logs or pre-flight checks and out of date charts were also among the list of common errors made. The only way to avoid those and other errors, is through training and practice, practice, practice.
When training for IFR flying, Beland said, fly “real” IFR in cloud as much as possible. Interact with ATC as often as possible, practice emergency procedures with a qualified safety pilot and develop a good sense of orientation by knowing where you are using your navaids. Don't rush, added Beland. But, above all, know your stuff.
COPA Flight 8 Briefed on Canada Customs
Flight 8 Meeting
COPA Flight 8's October 24th meeting was held at West Capital Development's hangar classroom at Carp Airport, just west of Ottawa. The meeting featured Debbie McGuire from Client Services, St Lawrence Region, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The WCD classroom was filled with Flight 8 members there to learn more about Customs procedures.
McGuire has recently been visiting COPA Flights in the St Laurence basin and talking about how the agency's programs work, including how to clear customs when entering Canada.
She started the briefing by emphasizing that all pilots flying private light aircraft into Canada with fewer than 15 passengers must report by telephone for permission to enter Canada.
Unless everyone on board holds a CANPASS membership, regular customs procedures apply. The pilot-in-command of the aircraft shall call 1-888-226-7277 (1-888-CANPASS) between 2-48 hours in advance of the intended landing time. The pilot will need to provide information on:
the aircraft's registration
estimated time of arrival
airport of arrival
which must be an official Airport of Entry (AOE)
passenger and crew information, including:
dates of birth
length of absence
for any non-Canadian residents – purpose of the trip.
McGuire emphasized that if for some reason that you can't get through on the toll-free line then you can call the regional offices directly, but you must report by phone before departing for Canada. Any duties or taxes owed on purchases made can be paid over the phone via credit card in advance of departure, as customs officers who meet the plane may not be able to take payment on the spot after landing.
After landing at an AOE during Customs hours, non-CANPASS holder aircraft must make a second phone call to CBSA and wait in the aircraft. The pilot can leave the aircraft to make the call, if necessary. CBSA will give instructions as needed.
McGuire explained that under exceptional circumstances, such as weather or mechanical problems forcing an aircraft returning to Canada to land short of the AOE at another airport, the pilot must immediately phone CBSA. The aircraft will either be met where it is or a special clearance will be given.
If an aircraft has let CBSA know that it is flying into Canada and then has to land short of the border, still in the country of departure, then a call is required as well, to let CBSA know that the flight has been delayed. Another notification will be required when the flight is to continue to Canada.
CANPASS is a program of CBSA that was started to simplify tourism, trade and travel. It allows travelers to go through an assessment in advance and, if classified as “low risk”, they will be issued with a CANPASS membership.
For private aircraft returning to Canada from the USA, where all crew and passengers have a CANPASS membership, streamlined procedures are used. The benefits of CANPASS membership are:
the aircraft can land at any AOE
the aircraft can land at any AOE after regular Customs hours
the aircraft can land at any designated CANPASS airport
CANPASS members still make the same phone call to CBSA 2-48 hours in advance of arrival and are then cleared by phone. Any duties or taxes owed on purchases made can be paid over the phone via credit card. The aircraft can proceed to its AOE or CANPASS airport and then if not met by a CBSA agent can proceed on to final destination after the ETA has lapsed.
To participate in CANPASS a crew member or passenger has to apply, pass the background checks and be given a membership card. The basic requirements are:
be a citizen or permanent resident of the USA or Canada
meet all immigration requirements
not have a criminal record
not have had any customs seizures.
To apply for CANPASS applicants must complete a form E672 Alternative Customs Presentations Programs. The non-refundable application fee is $40 for five years. There is no fee for applicants under 18 years of age, although parents have to complete the forms. The applicant will have to provide proof of citizenship or residency (copies only should be sent). Once the application has been completed it is submitted to CBSA for background checks and then approval or rejection based on the findings.
McGuire emphasized that for a private aircraft to return to Canada under CANPASS rules then everyone on board must be a CANPASS holder. The Corporate CANPASS Program is a bit different as it allows up to four non-CANPASS holders to enter Canada with the flight. The Corporate CANPASS Program is not open to private citizens, only corporations who also pass CANPASS requirements.
CANPASS is only valid for entry from the USA, so aircraft coming back from Greenland or other points of departure must fly to an AOE, even if all on board are CANPASS holders.
McGuire noted that people returning to Canada under CANPASS cannot bring in certain items, such as commercial samples, goods or equipment and if these are being brought the aircraft must report to a regular AOE during customs hours instead. Importing controlled or restricted substances, restricted firearms and excess amounts of alcohol or tobacco similarly requires reporting to an AOE instead of using CANPASS to enter the country.
McGuire also reviewed the rules for visitors to Canada including limits on gifts that they can bring ($60 value per gift), the personal import limits for tobacco, cigars and alcohol. She reported that the general allowances for Canadians returning to Canada have been increased and are now:
$50 for people who have been out of Canada for at least 24 hours
$400 for visits of at least 48 hours
$750 for at least 7 days
These latter two limits include alcohol and tobacco. Details on the limits for imports can be found in the CBSA pamphlet I Declare – A guide for residents of Canada returning to Canada. Paper copies of the pamphlet were distributed at the meeting and it is also available on the CBSA website.
McGuire also noted that persons entering Canada must report if they are bringing more than $10,000 with them, under the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act.
The subject of traveling with children received special emphasis from McGuire. She explained that CBSA has intercepted over 1400 children since who were being moved across the border illegally. In most cases they had been kidnapped by a non-custodial parent. She stated that if you are traveling with children and not with the children's other parent then you will need: proper ID for the children, legal documents establishing that you have custody or a notarized letter from the other parent. Children must also travel with the accompanying parent and not in a separate vehicle or aircraft.
McGuire mentioned that with retail prices so high in Canada, despite our very high dollar that many Canadians are buying retail goods and especially cars in the USA. She went over the rules for importing these, including the safety requirements that must be met. Again complete information is on the CBSA and Transport Canada websites.
Finally McGuire reminded people of the basic things to keep in mind when returning to Canada:
keep your receipts for purchases
declare all goods purchased.
COPA Flight 8 would like to thank Debbie McGuire for making this helpful and informative presentation to us.
Thanks are also due to John Phillips and WCD for allowing COPA Flight 8 the use of their new classroom at Carp Airport. WCD is in the process of building a residential airpark at Carp, with building slated to start this winter. Complete information is available on the WCD website.
COPA Flight 8 is well known for the interesting speakers arranged by Flight Captain Mike Shaw. Because the Flight is located in Ottawa, it is not hard to find interesting aviation speakers to address Flight 8, but sometimes Shaw doesn't have to look very far. For the meeting Shaw managed to find a speaker with a fascinating presentation, right from the ranks of Flight 8 itself.
This month Shaw recruited Flight 8 member Dr David Salisbury to present a History of Aviation Medicine in Canada.
Salisbury certainly has the background to speak on this subject. Not only is he a physician currently serving as the City of Ottawa's Medical Officer of Public Health, but he also has served in the Canadian Forces as a flight surgeon and pilot, was Base Surgeon at CFB Moose Jaw and physician to the Snowbirds. After serving at National Defence Medical Centre in Ottawa and at a field hospital in Croatia he finished his military career as Commanding Officer of the Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine in Toronto.
Salisbury started his presentation by discussing the medical standards that were applied to pilots in World War I. Very little was known about human performance in those days and so the Royal Flying Corps required candidates for pilot:
to have perfect vision
be under 25 years old
be able to hear a whisper at 20 feet.
By the start of WWII there was a better understanding of the unique challenges that pilots of the higher performance fighter aircraft of that period faced. Before that war medical researchers had identified that speed, “g” loading and altitude factors were important. As a result the RCAF started a secret aviation medicine research program with the aim of giving the allies a performance advantage over the axis forces.
A joint Department of National Defence and National Research Council aviation medicine research board was set up, chaired by the discoverer of insulin, Sir Frederick Banting, who was serving with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps.
By , research was being carried out at a secret military facility at Avenue Road and Eglington in Toronto. This unit eventually became the RCAF #1 Clinical Investigation Unit. It carried out research in low temperatures and low pressures using an environmental chamber and human “g” tolerance experiments using one of the first centrifuges. Investigations were also done on human performance in a tropical environment using a special tropical chamber built for the project.
At Avenue Road Dr Wilbur Franks used the human centrifuge to develop the Franks Flying suit, the first anti-g suit. This was a passive, water filled suit that pooled water in the bottom of the suit under “g” load to prevent blacking out. The suit was a success and the work of Dr Franks is the basis of all modern “g”suits
The Avenue Road research facility also did important work in developing inflatable life jackets, improved oxygen systems, pressure suits and helmets.
By the s, the RCAF had renamed the unit the Institute of Aviation Medicine and it had moved into a new facility at Downsview airport. In the s, the name was changed to the Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine and it became Canada's centre of excellence for operational medicine and human performance.
During the Gulf War, concerns about the use of biological and chemical agents by Iraq prompted the development of multi-layer protective clothing and cooling equipment suitable for the Sea King and CF-18 crews operating in the middle-eastern theatre.
More recently, the unit has been involved in:
A military Intelligent Clothing and Equipment Sizing System, using laser modelling for anthropometric research
Simulation and Modelling for Acquisition Rehearsal and Training (SMART) project
Low cost virtual reality systems for aircrew use
A rapidly configurable cockpit for human performance research use
Workplace design studies
Simulation and modelling projects
Improved aircraft accident investigation, including analysis tools
Improved medical assessment recruit screening
The staff of the institute also provide assistance to Transport Canada and the Canadian Space Agency as well as developing medical policy for the Canadian Forces and providing training to flight surgeons and diving medical staff.
As Salisbury illustrated, aviation medical research in Canada has resulted in some world-leading solutions to problems. Most of this history and the accomplishments of Canadian researchers is not well known because of the secrecy that enveloped many of these projects at the time the work was done. Canadians have much to be proud of in the field of aviation medical research, in many ways we have lead the field through much of its history.
Flight 8 at Ottawa Flying Club's Grass Roots Aviation Day
March 31st was the second annual OFC Grass Roots Day - the chance to set up a display in the upper lounge along with many other clubs and organizations and talk to each other as well as the public.
The COPA Flight 8/COPA National booth was manned by COPA Flight 8 Captain Mike Shaw, Ruth Merkis-Hunt and COPA Staffer Adam Hunt.
There were ground displays from Hope Air, EAA, CASARA, Webster Trophy Competition, Gatineau Gliding Club, West Capital Developments, Vintage Wings and many other organizations. On the ramp were displays by Vintage Wings, who brought along their Harvard, Spitfire and Beaver, along with Challenger Ottawa's Challenger II C-ITOT and two of the airport's de-icing trucks.
If you missed this event there will likely be another one next year!
Click to enlarge
TriviAir Time at COPA Flight 8
Flight 8 Meeting
The meeting was a break for the members of COPA Flight 8 from the usually serious aviation subjects presented. This month we participated in an aviation trivia game devised by COPA Flight 59 Cornwall member Nick Wolochatiuk.
Wolochatiuk travels around eastern Ontario and presents his TriviAir game to any group that wants to be part of it. Wolochatiuk is a professional photographer and long-time aviation buff and the format of the game makes use of his extensive collection of aviation slide photographs. The main aim was to identify aircraft types, events, manufacturers and aviation-related names as a competition.
Wolochatiuk started off by setting up his Jurassic laptop, 35 mm slide projector and also his own overhead projector in the upper lounge of the Ottawa Flying Club, where Flight 8 usually meets. We don’t get too many presenters who own their own overhead projector!
There were a total of ten Flight 8 members present and so we were divided into two teams of five and score was kept on a flip chart. The contest consisted of questions asked first to one team and then, if no correct answer was forthcoming, to the other team. Wolochatiuk acted as questioner and judge as to the best answer, if any.
Some of the categories of questions were: airplanes known by more than one name, different names for the same aircraft part, aircraft and cars that share the same name, alliterative aircraft names, airports named after Prime Ministers, Premiers or US Presidents, aircraft aesthetics, aircraft that have humps, Boeing aircraft named starting with “Strato”, Cessna aircraft named starting with “Sky” and Douglas aircraft also named starting with “Sky”
After those categories and several more we proceeded to tackle Wolochatiuk’s extensive collection of 35 mm slides, being quizzed on aircraft types, histories and airport locations.
In the end the score was 75 to 68.
The members of COPA Flight 8 had a fun and interesting evening and can recommended TriviAir as worthwhile to other COPA Flights in the area. This would make a great competition for two COPA Flights to do against each other!
John Quarterman Updates COPA Flight 8 on How to do it Right
Flight 8 Meeting
By Michael Shaw, Captain COPA Flight 8
On 24 January at the Ottawa Flying Club, Ottawa area pilot John Quarterman updated COPA Flight 8 on flying to the U.S.A.
His message is simple; flying in the U.S.A. is easier done than said! Of course that is not the impression you can get from listening to the media or to some hangar talk. The fact is that the vast majority of trips over the border are rewarding trouble-free experiences. In a nutshell John’s message is to play by the rules and don’t forget that North Americans are at war, then you will likely have no problems heading to the U.S.A. John observes that there is a lot to see in the U.S.A., lots of good airports and particularly good service at most fixed base operations (FBOs). It is a great place to fly and Oshkosh or Sun n’ Fun are great reasons to make the trip.
John Quarterman has been tracking the requirements for crossing the Canada-US border, and the differences between Canadian and US flying rules for several years. John simplifies the differences by putting them side by side. His presentation started with a 25-question written test. This was the first written test in years for many Flight 8 members, but all passed with flying colours after John’s presentation.
Aside from the latest requirement, that the U.S.A. will only accept a current passport as your personal identification if you arrived there in an airplane, John has the following suggestions and cautions?
Know where your passengers were born! Even if they are Canadian citizens traveling with their Canadian passport, make sure they don’t need finger printing, etc. under the US’s National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) which applies to people born in much of the Middle East and elsewhere. Have this information at hand before calling the US Customs and Border Protection office serving your chosen Airport-of-Entry to the US. Be specific about your passengers’ identity, and clarify if they will face any special requirements on arrival. Get the badge number of the border protection officer to whom you are speaking.
You likely know that you have must follow US flying regulations when in the US, but you also have to follow the Canadian regulations, at least those that are more stringent than the US counterparts.
You must file a Flight Plan to fly across the border, even if you don’t plan on landing in the USA, e.g., a flight across Maine enroute from Quebec to New Brunswick requires an international flight plan.
Do not rely on either Canada’s or the U.S.A.’s Flight Service Stations (FSS) to know about the other country’s NOTAMS and Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) (Call both to ensure you will not violate any popup airspace restrictions.
When actually at the border, you must have established contact with, and have a discrete transponder code issued by the air traffic control agency controlling the airspace at the border.
The USA wants you to arrive at your chosen Airport-of-Entry to the U.S.A. within plus or minus fifteen minutes of the arrival time you told them on the phone. If you will be early, throttle back, orbit anything but a nuclear power station, just delay your arrival so that you get there less than fifteen minutes early. If you will be more than 15 minutes late you are best to land in Canada and call the US border protection folks on the phone to revise you estimate. This suggests that it is best to choose an airport of entry close to the border rather than a couple of hours in land.
After arriving, stay in your aircraft until the border protection officer arrives. If the officer does not appear, the pilot, and only the pilot, may exit the aircraft at his declared arrival time and call the border protection office serving the airport to get instructions. Get the badge number.
Call the US FSS and close your flight plan by making an arrival report. It is also wise to call a Canadian Flight Service Information Centre (FIC) to make an arrival report, too. These agencies don’t always talk to each other on a timely basis. Also, in the U.S.A. control towers will NOT file an arrival report for you. You have to call the FSS yourself.
Remember that US pilots most frequently join the circuit (in US talk it is the “pattern”) on a 45 degree entry to the downwind leg. They seldom use the overhead arrival that we do in Canada.
These are just some highlights from John’s presentation. You can get all the details at John’s website. If you are not far from Ottawa you can probably coax John into telling your COPA Flight about flying in the U.S.A. His presentation is well done and complete. Flight 8 thanks John for an interesting and informative evening.
COPA Flight 8 Appeals To TATC
Flight 8 Meeting
COPA Flight 8 Ottawa is renowned for the quality of the speakers that Flight Captain Mike Shaw manages to arrange to talk to the club. As a follow on to the October meeting where the group was briefed by Oonagh Elliott of TC Enforcement, the November 22nd meeting featured John Issenman of the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada. Issenman would be one of the TATC hearing officers a pilot might appeal to after a visit from TC Enforcement!
Issenman has an extensive background to be a TATC member. He has been a pilot for 37 years, used to be an air accident investigator with the Transportation Safety Board and was at one time a TC inspector, too. He has also been on the Board of the Air Transport Association of Canada and the Aerospace Industries association of Canada. The TATC position is just part time and so he also currently runs Proav International Aviation Consulting Services Corporation.
Issenman gave the Flight members a briefing on how the TATC works. The Tribunal has 2 fulltime staff members, the chair and vice-chair, along with 40 part time hearing officers located across the country. They also have seven administrative staff headquartered in Ottawa.
The TATC acts as the appeal body for anyone who is denied the issue or renewal of a federal document or has administrative action taken against them for marine, rail and aviation. This includes air carrier operating certificates, pilot licences and medical certificates, pilot proficiency checks, marine and rail licences. While the majority of cases Issenman hears are related to air carrier proficiency checks the part of his work that is of most interest to private pilots are appeals for medical certificate failures to renew and of course fines and licence suspensions for alleged CARs violations.
Issenman went over the method of conducting a review hearing and stressed that the onus is on the TC Case Presenting Officer to prove their case against the respondent. He reviewed the rules of evidence, calling, questioning and cross-examining witnesses, closing the evidentiary record and the factors that case hearing officers have to consider in deciding a case. Issenman also covered appealing a TATC decision to a panel of three TATC members and beyond to Federal Court. Issenman emphasized that the key principle in TATC appeals is “fair and natural justice”.
The COPA Flight members asked some pointed questions during the presentation and enjoyed the opportunity to understand how the TATC review and appeal processes work.
Setting the Record Straight - Oonagh Elliott of TC Enforcement
Flight 8 Meeting
If receiving a letter from Transport Canada Enforcement strikes fear and loathing in you, you’re not alone. It’s a very common perception that enforcement officers are out to take your license and/or aircraft from you…
…That perception, however, is quite flawed, and Oonagh Elliott from Transport Canada Enforcement came out to speak with us to set the record straight. Much to her relief, the well attended group paid rapt attention to the talk.
Oonagh’s presentation focused on exactly what the enforcement program was, how it works and why it exists in the first place. Of course, no presentation would be complete without the requisite statistics on the top five violations.
Why Enforcement exists is directly connected to ICAO. Because Canada is a signatory nation to ICAO, we promised to make our rules enforceable under ICAO agreement. Enforcement is a Transport Canada departmental division and it has quite an awesome set of responsibilities. The most striking fact is that Enforcement is responsible for policing 15 million square kilometres of airspace and all the aircraft flying over or maneuvering in this airspace. How they do this is through the systematic employment of a four point program consisting of prevention, detection, investigation and deterrent. It is that third element, investigation, that often generates what Elliott says is largely unnecessary anxiety.
By prevention, Enforcement strongly advocates voluntary compliance with the regulations (CARs). This is done through licensing, whose privileges are granted on the basis of meeting specific standards, consultation with industry so that any problems can be identified and dealt with before they become problems. Mostly, however, prevention is done through public education, such as the talk given by Elliott.
Detection means just that – when TC Enforcement is made aware of a situation, either through the public (usually channeled through the RCMP or the airport which a member of the public may have phoned to lodge a complaint) or through routine inspections (read: ramp check) they will make further inquiry which leads to…
Investigation. This is that part of the process where the collection of evidence to support claims of a potential violation takes place. Enforcement officers may collect specific documents and inspect them more thoroughly to determine whether a violation has taken place. This is where you may receive that letter informing you that you are under investigation for an infraction. Elliott took some extra time to explain to the audience that being under investigation is not the same thing as an assessment of guilt. Instead, those letters are an invitation to tell Transport your side of the story as it is difficult to make a fair assessment with only one side of the story.
Deterrent actions are designed to encourage violators to take corrective actions so that they voluntarily comply with the regulations. Far from the simple paying of fines, Elliott stressed that, in most cases, verbal counselling is the only action that is taken. It all depends on the offence itself, what impact (if any) it has on safety and any prior violations on record. It is common for TC Enforcement to adopt leniency for minor violations, such as leaving your license in the car while flying.
There are, however, rather firm sanctions applied for willful non-compliance and those sanctions become progressive with subsequent acts of defiance. Any and all Enforcement actions are documented and that includes any verbal counselling.
The top five violations as seen by TC Enforcement in Ontario were:
Not following MF (mandatory frequency) procedures, 22 offences
Low flying, 4 offences
Reckless and/or Negligent flying, 4 offences
Flight without a valid flight authority, 4 offences
Flying without a valid license, medical certificate and/or maintenance release for the aircraft, 12 offences.
When you consider that the total number of violations brought to the attention of TC Enforcement in was 2811, of which 608 were in the Ontario region alone, then it becomes clear that TC Enforcement are very meticulous in handing out fines or license suspensions. In fact, in roughly half the cases, no further action took place after the investigations had been completed. As for monetary penalties, the stats for showed that a total of 269 monetary penalties had been assessed, 55 of which were in the Ontario region alone.
All in all, Oonagh Elliott’s talk was one of the very best of and left many feeling relieved that their own occasional mistakes were both common and not likely to result in licence suspensions or hefty fines.
New FBO Opens at Carp
Flight 8 Meeting
Plans for major growth at the Carp Airport west of Ottawa are underway with the opening of a new FBO building and the commissioning of a new self-serve fuel system.
On Wednesday COPA Flight 8 members met at the new West Capital Developments FBO hangar for a barbeque and tour of the facilities by WCD President John Phillips and VP Projects Jim McDermott.
The new FBO building is the first phase in an airport development plan that sees the airport ownership pass from the City of Ottawa to West Capital, the FBO building and new fuelling facility, construction of a new airport industrial park and a residential airpark of 340 house lots. The fly-in community will be Canada’s largest when it is completed
Flight 8 members toured the new FBO hangar which features 6,000 square feet of heated aircraft storage space fronting on a new 25,000 sq ft asphalt ramp. The FBO building also has a passenger lounge, space for an upcoming airport coffee shop, washrooms with showers, a classroom/meeting room, airport administration offices, customs offices (Carp is presently a CANPASS airport), a pilot rest area as well as office space for the West capital developments staff.
As well as the new ramp the building has a large car parking lot and asphalt walkways. With well water and septic system on site the facility is self-contained.
Following the tour of the new building COPA Flight 8 pilots were briefed on the fly-in community underway and saw blueprints of the layout of the housing area to be located on the south side of the airport, including the attached house/hangar lots and community hangars that will be available to residents. The fly-in community residential lots will be available for sale soon and this has pilots increasingly interested in opportunities to live at the airport.
Flight 8 members were also shown the new self-serve avgas facility that West Capital has installed on the north ramp. The set-up features a huge tank, high-capacity state-of-the-art pumping system in a set of stainless steel cabinets, all controlled by a self-serve fuel control system built by Fuel Commander of Vancouver BC. The system accepts major credit cards to unlock the system. The system then bills the credit card and issues a receipt. The fuelling system includes future expansion capability to add debit card use as well.
West Capital also has Jet-A presently available in a fuel truck that can be brought to the aircraft for refuelling.
COPA Flight 8 members were impressed with the progress that has been made by West Capital at Carp in bringing the plans to reality. Pilots in the Ottawa area are looking forward to seeing the industrial and residential construction begin soon and the on-going growth of aviation at Carp.
More information: West Capital Developments, 1500 Thomas Argue Road, Box 486 Carp, Ontario, Canada, K0A 1L0 (613) 839-7900 Fax: (613) 839-5390 email@example.com Additional photos and a complete run-down on development plans for the residential and industrial communities can be seen on the WCD website.
On COPA Flight 8 held a very successful pub night despite the complete absence of the COPA Flight Captain, Mike Shaw who had called the meeting in the first place.
A large crowd of four Flight members gathered at the Royal Oak pub, sharing precious elbow room with a huge crowd of volleyball and rugby teams as well as miscellaneous local Ottawians out for a Wednesday night tibble.
The COPA Flight members managed to consume two soda waters and two beers. No waitresses were insulted in the melee that failed to result. Most of the time was spent idly chatting about the announcement of two new Cessna models at Oshkosh this past week, since some of those in attendance have flown aircraft from the Kansas manufacturer in the past.
Most flight members in attendance agreed that the evening couldn't have handled a larger crowd anyway. An early bedtime was announced and things went down hill from there. Blame was assigned to the time of year and lack of leadership shown.
Transport Canada's Paul Marquis talks to COPA Flight 8
Flight 8 Meeting
Although the weather was somewhat dour, roughly 17 people attended the April meeting.
Paul Marquis was the guest speaker but Mike Shaw, asked if there were any announcements before turning things over to Mr. Marquis. Member Ruth Merkis-Hunt, Region #13 director for the American Yankee Association, took a couple of minutes to remind everyone of the upcoming “Ice Breaker” fly-in being held at Rockcliffe (CYRO) on Saturday, . There were no other announcements and so Paul Marquis began his presentation.
Marquis spoke mostly about the new and improved Aviation Safety Letter, of which he is the editor. According to Marquis, the ASL underwent a, “…fairly big transformation over the past year and a half.” This seemed to translate into an amalgamation of the “Aviation Safety Vortex” and “Aviation Safety Maintainer” newsletters, as a result of the budget cuts in Transport Canada, and also a desire to bring together the audiences in a single magazine. Marquis is hoping to continue to bring together all the elements in Canadian aviation into one comprehensive publication, including industry and, in particular, COPA, although he conceded that a number of the articles were gleaned from the Internet.
Also in Marquis’ talk was the availability of new learning tools, specifically, a “Summer Kit” and a “Winter Kit, , both kits made-up of several CD’s with videos, presentations and safety awareness materials for summer and winter flying. These kits had originally been made for RASOs, but are now available for purchase by pilots through the new TC “Transact” website. Topics on the CDs range from human factors when it comes to decision making to icing awareness in winter flying. Marquis provided a set of these to Flight 8 for the group’s use.
One of the questions asked if the TC Safety Seminars held in Toronto could “travel” to Ottawa. Marquis said that was a good idea and that he would transmit the message to the TC Regional office in Toronto. However, he indicated that funding for traveling safety seminars is decided by the Region. There are a number of TC inspectors who would like to deliver safety seminars on the road and provide sessions at meetings such as regional COPA Flight meetings, but again it depends on funding and limited resources.
Ottawa Flying Club Open House
On COPA Flight 8 set up an information booth at the Ottawa Flying Club's "Grass Roots Aviation Information Day" at the Ottawa International Airport. Many local aviation clubs were there despite the poor weather and a good crowd showed up to see the displays and meet other pilots. Present were COPA Flight 8, the 99s, Hope Air, two local gliding clubs, a tandem skydive operation, Challenger Ottawa and Aerolite Services, CASARA, EAA Chapter 245, The Webster Trophy organizers, West Capital Developments from Carp Airport, among other local groups.
Handing out COPA papers, stickers and other give-aways for Flight 8 were Captain Mike Shaw, Ruth Merkis-Hunt and Adam Hunt. The event was popular even if there were no fly-in aircraft due the fast moving cold front that hit the area. Hopefully the event will happen again next year with better weather to bring in the visiting aircraft.
From Oatmeal to Astronauts & Arctic Flying to the "Person’s Award"
The Flight Paths of Felicity McKendry& Lorna deBlicquy
Flight 8 Meeting
By Ruth Merkis-Hunt
The March 22nd Flight 8 meeting was different in at least two significant ways. Firstly, the location wasn’t at the Flight’s usual place at the Ottawa Flying Club but at the Canada Aviation Museum in Rockcliffe. The meeting was a joint meeting with the Eastern Canada Chapter of the 99s and many other local aviation organizations. The second thing that made the meeting especially unique was the two speakers who came to talk with the group.
Many aviators are familiar with the names Felicity McKendry and Lorna deBlicquy – that night the audience of roughly 50 was treated to a talk given by both these ladies. Although much has been written about these two pioneer aviators, it is different to actually see and hear them speak; to put a face to a name and a voice to the experiences they shared with us.
Felicity McKendry had always been fascinated by aviation from a very young age and her enthusiasm was only encouraged by the famous cardboard mock-up of an instrument panel which children could receive by sending in two box tops and 15 cents to the Quaker Oats company in Peterborough, Ontario. McKendry’s face lit up as she recalled fondly how she would rush home from school in time to hear the short lesson on the radio. “There was a recording of aircraft sounds in the background,” McKendry would say, “which made it all very realistic.” This was, she asserted, the very first simulator…and it had come from the Quaker Oats company in Peterborough. Of course, the “How to Fly” kit provided by Quaker Oats included an illustrated book as well. The cardboard mock-up and flying book were on display but what McKendry herself emphasized was that her husband-to-be had also sent in for the same kit, proof of which was seen in the envelope on display bearing his name. Her hunger for learning aviation even at that young age must have paid off well, for her first flight instructor had commented during her very first lesson that she must have had prior training.
Many COPA members will be familiar with the name Margaret Carson. She was the one who co-founded COPA back in but it was her flight in a Stinson down to Washington to meet with AOPA representatives for advice and guidance on how to start COPA which was most memorable to Felicity McKendry because she accompanied Carson all the way to Washington. McKendry was building time towards her flight instructor rating, which she successfully completed on .
Subsequent memorable times included the All Women’s Trans-Continental Air Race in , especially the sight of “…well over 50 aircraft and 75 plus women pilots up and rarin’ to go.” Given the era, the mid s, this was, indeed, both rare and extraordinary.
But one of McKendry’s more memorable events was her time as the flight test examiner for Canadian astronauts Marc Garneau and Steve McLean, both of whom had sent her letters of appreciation for all her help. McKendry herself spoke with much praise and honour about both these men and, indeed, towards the myriad of students she taught. The flight test for Marc Garneau was especially interesting as it had been scheduled for the same date as the retirement party for her air traffic controller husband, Spence McKendry.
We were then treated to a short film which starred McKendry back in the s. It was a two minute black and white show which started with a flight test examiner signing off an ATPL license for a successful candidate but which switched to McKendry herself performing a couple of spins for both the examiner and for a camera shot from another aircraft.
But McKendry’s warmth and kindness was not limited to aviation, from which she retired in . Four years ago, her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and McKendry undertook the loving task of developing and promoting a calendar to raise awareness of this disease. “The tulip,” began McKendry “is to Parkinson’s what the Daffodil is to cancer.” This wonderful lady then held up a sign with the word “tulip” written on it and asked the audience what it spelled backwards. The word “Pilut” was revealed.
Lorna deBlicquy’s interest in aviation was kindled in early childhood like Felicity McKendry’s. However, deBlicquy’s passion for flying had been met with some trepidation from her parents. They weren’t too keen to have her flying airplanes but the delicate art of negotiation, fuelled by a determination to fly, allowed this young woman to receive her parents’ blessing. Three conditions had to be satisfied in order for Lorna to be allowed to take flying lessons. She had to pay for the lessons herself, she had to maintain her marks in school (75% was the minimum) and she would have to go to the airport, do the flight and then come straight home. The fear there, deBlicquy figures, was that “…girls who hung around the airport would become pretty tough…” So, she became tough.
DeBlicquy didn’t have too many fears about not doing well in school as she was a self-described “mole”. After she graduated from Carleton University, she worked at Spartan Aviation Services. Her marriage to Tony Nichols, a geologist, involved a move to Thompson, Manitoba, where she flew supplies around the North. Her flying career eventually included trips to the arctic, flying joint US-Canadian weather services missions. DeBlicquy spoke with aplomb about the challenges of living a fairly isolated life in the North which was only slightly more easily relieved by flying from one isolated community to another. Particularly challenging was being one of the very few women within the community. In the mid-late , she and her husband moved to Sudbury where she earned her Flight Instructor rating and taught ab initio students on floats and skis, as well as teaching full time at the local high school.
In the early s, she “…moved husbands,” (as she put it), returned to more southern fields and taught at both Carp and Kingston where she met Dick deBlicquy. Within a year, they were married and his job took them to New Zealand.
DeBlicquy taught in New Zealand but what she spoke of was just how dependable conditions for gliding were in New Zealand. Wave flying in particular was excellent but the only problem seemed to be that New Zealand is so much smaller than Canada so while getting up and soaring the perennial ridges of New Zealand was never a problem, running out of land was. “Picture the whole of Canada from Vancouver to Newfoundland squished to the size of New Zealand,” she had said.
Lorna deBlicquy was, of course, affected by the general anti-women sentiment within aviation in Canada. Despite having earned her commercial helicopter licence in Ottawa on the Bell 47 and many years of experience teaching, ferrying and doing sightseeing flights in Canada’s arctic, the Ottawa valley area and in New Zealand, finding flying jobs was very difficult.
But, just as she had been determined to learn to fly, Lorna deBlicquy was equally determined to break that barrier that held many women back in flying. She wrote letters to Transport Canada, to newspapers and did many public talks about the inequality of opportunity for qualified women to get those flying jobs. “How is it fair,” she began “that there are programs like air cadets…” (Girls were ineligible to attend at that time) “…which will pay for young men to fly but that girls like me have to pay our own way?” It was a compelling argument and Transport Canada finally hired her in making Lorna deBlicquy Canada’s first female Civil Aviation Inspector.
The list of accomplishments of this 11,000+ hour pilot can be found in her biography but, perhaps, the most vital award which she earned was the “Person’s Award”. This is an award given to women who fought for equality for women. In the middle of the 20th century, aviation was one of the last strongholds of the “no girls allowed” club.
COPA Flight 8 Members Briefed on Experiment
Flight 8 Meeting
On Wednesday COPA Flight 8 Ottawa members were briefed by Emily Coffey about an experiment that she is conducting. The purpose of the experiment is to learn about pilot thought processes and especially as they relate to pilot aging.
Coffey is an undergraduate student at the University of Ottawa as well as a ground school instructor and pilot with the Rockcliffe Flying Club. Her experiment forms the central part of her undergraduate honours thesis at U of O and is being done in partnership with Rockcliffe Flying Club and also the Aviation Cognition Engineering Laboratory at Carleton University, which is also in Ottawa. Coffey is also well known to COPA members as a past recipient of a COPA Neil Armstrong Scholarship.
The fundamental question asked by Coffey’s thesis is “Are older pilots safer or less safe than younger pilots?” The experiment will measure whether older pilots are able to trade greater flying experience for the effects of aging, in comparison to younger pilots.
Coffey’s experiment will study a total of 20 pilots, with half the group under age 30 and half over age 60. Pilots in between those ages are not included in this study. The experiment is a comparison between the two groups and will catalogue the differences found. All pilots studied will have a minimum of 100 hours and a Private Pilot Licence to ensure a basic level of experience.
The experiment uses a full visual, non-motion simulator configured to fly like a Cessna 172. Pilot subjects fill out an experience questionnaire to establish their background experience and ensure that the sample of subjects is representative of the groups being studied. The experiment then starts by giving each pilot a chance to fly the simulator for practice to become familiar with it. Next the subject will fly two short 30 minute flights, one routine and the other with the addition of higher workload factors, such as turbulence. The experiment takes a cognitive approach to measuring observable pilot performance involving time measures, a flicker fusion test, contrast sensitivity and memory as well as reactions and observation abilities. The experiment will also measure situational awareness, using realistic factors such as instrument failures and air traffic. The simulator measures basic flight parameters such as altitude and airspeed accuracy and control deflections used.
One of Coffey’s reasons for briefing COPA Flight 8 on the project was to solicited more participants. At the present she has about half the number of subjects she needs to complete the study. The positive reception she received from the Flight members likely bodes well for finding the remaining experimental subjects. The project is scheduled to be completed by .
COPA Flight 8 Captain Mike Shaw has already participated as a subject in Coffey’s experiment. He declined to indicate whether he was grouped in the “under 30” or “over 60” experimental group.
Coffey has indicated that once the project is complete she will provide results to COPA for wider distribution. COPA is always interested in studies that give useful information about the effects of aging on pilots as aging is an issue all our members will have to deal with in time. More studies and better data can be helpful especially in dealing with insurance issues for older pilots.
COPA Flight 8 Goes Way Up North!!
Flight 8 Meeting
By Ruth Merkis-Hunt
The COPA Flight 8 meeting was the first one of the year and it started our flying season early, sort of. Well, vicariously at any rate.
Chuck O’Dale and videographer, Eric Kujala, had a show for us worthy of top notch popcorn. The two of them took a few days in Chuck’s Cessna 177, C-GOZM and flew around our great, vast and fairly desolate looking northlands. Great, vast and desolate looking to be sure, but also incredibly gorgeous, thanks to Kujala’s expert filming.
The ten or so members who were in attendance were treated not only to the amazing views of such exotic places as Chibougamau, Mistassini and Kuujjuaq but the background music added to the real sense of fun and adventure that both Chuck and Eric were obviously having.
The movie also acted as an animated flying travel brochure. Both O’Dale and Kujala answered questions from the audience about such things as how much breakfast would cost at the Chibougamau Airport (answer: there would have been a $30.00 delivery charge on top of the cost of breakfast itself). It would seem that the great, vast, desolate and gorgeous landscape of eastern Canada is also pretty expensive.
They flew around Temiskaming River and Kujala took this opportunity to mention a misadventure he and a fellow camper had experienced back in on the Temiskaming River. It involved losing a canoe near the rapids and, essentially, being stranded in the middle of nowhere for 8 days! Revisiting the area, Kujala now looks back on that time with a smile and a sigh of relief.
The journey continued to places like Schefferville, where, despite the geological effects of mining that were very evident, the service at the airport was very good. O’Dale refuelled his C-177B and both he and Kujala continued their journey to places like Eaton Canyon where a Niagara-like waterfall provides what O’Dale called “geology in action."
Kuujjuaq was a downhill landing but the scene reminded viewers of what the moon might have looked like to the Apollo astronauts – except that the skies in Kuujjuaq weren’t black.
But by far, the trip around the tip of Labrador was the most interesting part. Combining a history lesson with some challenging terrain, C-GOZM overflew the site of Canada’s very first automatic weather station. It was placed there by a German U-Boat, the scourge of the North Atlantic during the Second World War. O’Dale even included German photos taken at the time of the submarine, U-537. The U-boat had set up the weather station at Martin Bay in Labrador to report the upwind weather that was so critical to the Battle of The Atlantic.
One of the more interesting features O’Dale brought up in the film was the presence of several meteorite craters and a lively discussion ensued regarding the ages of these craters. In fact, the movie provided many opportunities for scientific discussions of a geologic nature and it was common to hear such words as “glacial erratic”, “accelerated erosion” and “sedimentary layers".
Yes, there were a few weather “moments” during the journey, comprised mostly of lowered ceilings combined with rising hills characteristic of Labrador, but O’Dale, a very conscientious pilot, always had an “out” and had even considered turning around to take a different route where the conditions were much better.
However, just as all missions come to an end, C-GOZM had to return to its home in Rockcliffe, ON, just east of Ottawa. So, O’Dale and Kujala wound their way back home but they not only brought home memories of an amazing three day journey through our northlands, they brought a movie home to show to us. We couldn’t be there with them, but the movie itself was pretty darned close to being in the back seat!
The Southern Ontario Airport Marathon
Flight 8 Meeting
By Adam Hunt
The COPA Flight 8 meeting held on featured local pilot John Quarterman presenting the Southern Ontario Airports Marathon. This was a unique flight where he and two of his aircraft partners visited 45 airports in five days in .
The flight started off as a result of the four owners of Cardinal C-GEYQ deciding to sell the plane. They decided to do a farewell tour of Southern Ontario as a way to say goodbye to the C-177B.
In the event only three of the owners, Quarterman, Terry Begin and Mike James were available to make the trip as the fourth owner Ron Pepper had another commitment.
The trio departed on August 17th with the aim of landing or doing a touch and go at 45 airports. On the actual trip some airports were just “flown past” but all were visited and photographed. As part of the trip the group collected logbook stamps and information to add to COPA’s Places to Fly website on the way.
Departing from their home base at Ottawa/Carp they visited, in order: Ottawa International (touch and go only – there is a $15 landing fee for full stops!), Ottawa/Rockcliffe, Cornwall, Morrisburg, Smiths Falls, Brockville, Kingston, Tyendinaga-Mohawk , Picton, Mountain View (fly past only, as this is a DND aerodrome and civil aircraft are not allowed to land here), Trenton (ditto), Peterborough, Lindsay, Oshawa, Toronto/Buttonville, Toronto/City Centre, Burlington Air Park, Brampton, Guelph (fly past only), Kitchener-Waterloo, Brantford, Hamilton, Grimsby (fly past only), St Catherines, Welland, Tillsonburg, St Thomas, Chatham, Leamington, Windsor (touch and go only), Sarnia, Centralia/Huron AirPark, London, Stratford, Goderich, Wingham, Kincardine, Hanover, Wiarton, Owen Sound, Collingwood, Midland/Huronia, Barrie/Lake Simcoe Regional, Parry Sound, Muskoka, Haliburton/Stanhope, Arnprior and then back home to Carp!
Along the way the crew only had to do only one go-around, and that was due to crosswinds. An unserviceable transponder discovered on the first day required some careful flying to avoid transponder airspace until they could get to Brantford and have it quickly repaired by BrantAero.
All told they flew 1289 nm, averaged 78 knots (due to all the circuits they flew!) and logged 16.5 hours of air time (23.5 hours of flight time). They used 157 US gallons of fuel and 4 litres of oil. The longest leg was just 0.8 hours, the shortest was 0.1 hours and the average leg was 0.4 hours.
Most of the airports that they visited had no landing fees, but Hamilton stood out as easily the most expensive, charging a $16.00 (including tax) landing fee!
Quarterman remarked that the airports they stopped at all treated them very well. They saw the results of lots of construction as many of these airports have recently lengthened runways or added new terminal buildings and hangars. Aviation is certainly showing signs of growth in many areas of Southern Ontario.
Quarterman said that the five day trip was,” Lots of fun, a great way to see Ontario” and highly recommended other pilots taking the time to get out and fly similar cross country flights.
The talk and slide show was very well received by the members of COPA Flight 8. The audience participated not only in Quarterman’s quiz at the end but in contributing their own knowledge of the airports visited. All in all it was an enjoyable presentation.
Come Fly in the Land Down Under - Touring Australia by Light Aircraft
Flight 8 Meeting
By Ruth Merkis-Hunt
The October 26 COPA Flight 8 meeting was held at the Flying Club. The guest speaker for this month’s meeting was Clare McEwan and the topic was the fun and adventure of participating in a guided tour of Australia by light airplane. This was met with a very warm reception by the dozen or so attendees not simply because Australia is an exotic destination for Canadians but because it’s much warmer there. With winter just beyond the next waypoint (yeah, yeah, it’s a bad analogy but I didn’t want to use the phrase “…just around the corner…”), the prospect of both “flying” and “warm “ was a most welcome idea and one emphasized by the pictures of previous expeditions shown by McEwan.
He defined the flying tour of Australia as a “guided bicycle tour of the air” which tells you that this isn’t merely about climbing aboard a large aircraft and flying en masse: no aerial “bus tours” here. In fact, the program, aptly named “Air Safaris”, uses 8 Cessna-172s to travel around the landmass. Two people are assigned to each aircraft (this would be a great couples trip) and the group travels within sight of one another.
McEwan’s presentation included two maps providing information on two different tours. One was limited to the northwestern coast of the country (the 11 day Queensland coastal tour) while the other one followed a more – uh – adventurous track. Not just to see the world famous Uluru (aka Ayers Rock), the longer track inside Australia’s landmass includes stops in some pretty remote locations. The pictures McEwan showed proved that fact. Remote. Yes. Hostile? No. In fact, these tours are so well known by the people living in Australia’s Outback that most of the farmers in that area are able and quite willing to provide whatever is needed to any pilot. How’s that for GA friendly?
Lest anyone think that this is a go-go-go venture, McEwan emphasized that this is a tour of Australia, not a race or rally. The itinerary for all the tours combines flying and non-flying days and a look at the schedule shows just how laid-back it is.
Naturally, there were questions from the attendees about such items as what the tour includes. McEwan answered that the tour includes aircraft rental (and these are late-model 172s all of which are immaculately maintained!), insurance and all accommodations. The lead pilot, an experienced RQAC (Royal Queensland Aero Club) pilot takes care of all the pre-flight weather checks. He is the main resource person for the safari participants, taking care of contacting any necessary aircraft mechanic or arranging for any replacement planes should the need arise.
Besides the sheer cost of this safari (going to Australia is never a cheap venture from Canada!), there is the necessary paperwork to get in order. Beyond the simple passport, pilots need to get an aviation reference number, a certificate of validation for one’s Canadian pilot’s license and the not surprising Aviation Security Identification Card (ASIC). This last requirement is the byproduct of 9/11 and can take anywhere from 2 to 5 months to complete. When the paperwork comes through, pilots only need to get a check-ride in Australia; likely a 1.5 to 2 hour procedure and nothing surprising for pilots. Once that is complete, pilots can fly the safari C-172. McEwan emphasized, however, that the qualification is limited to "day VFR only". So, even if you have an instrument rating, you would not be permitted to fly IFR while there…which, when you consider the purpose of this trip, makes eminent sense. Clouds look pretty much the same no matter where you are, but there is only one Australian Outback.
For more information, contact Clare McEwan or check out www.airsafarisint.com to learn more about this adventure. The website features spectacular pictures of Australia, too, so it’s a great way to fuel up the dream vacation down under.
The Nav Canada Aviation Weather Website - ASEP, Wx E-mail & Internet Flight Planning
Flight 8 meeting
By Ruth Merkis-Hunt
As promised in , NAVCANADA representatives presented a show to COPA Flight 8 members outlining the Aviation Weather Web Site, or AWWS. (This was the show that had originally been scheduled for the May meeting but didn’t come off because of technological glitches. But, all wasn’t lost then, as flight members took advantage of the opportunity to ask John Foottit, Mike Masek and Nathalie Cryderman questions about NAVCANADA’s weather website anyway as nearly everyone there had visited the site already).
The September meeting turnout was good, with roughly 40 members in the audience in the NAVCANADA control tower building at Ottawa’s airport. Thankfully, the technology came through and Mike Masek of NAVCANADA was able to make a picture perfect presentation on the features of the AWWS.
Masek’s presentation focused on 5 main points when it came to the AWWS:
vision for NAVCANADA in the provision of weather information for pilots
services available to users (that’s we pilot-types)
the products and features of the AWWS site, including the new ASEP
future enhancements of the website itself
But, before Masek could even begin, a comment from someone in the audience about a recent change to the on-line flight plan filing form was made. There is now the ability for pilots to file flight plans from places which are not listed in the CFS solely by entering the latitude and longitude of either/and their departure and/or arrival point (yeah, I know, it all sounds so Boolean). Simply by indicating the code “ZZZZ” on the form as you would do on an ICAO flight plan form, the eyes that see those letters are steered to the remarks section where the latitude and longitude of the intended departure and/or arrival point will have been entered. It’s well understood that this information is used only for any SAR operations which may be required. So, who would use this feature? Pilots who fly floatplanes into and out of private, unpublished campsites or landing strips would definitely use this feature. As most pilots use GPS, determining one’s lat and long is rather simple. For those who still use ye ol’ paper map, it only takes an extra few minutes to make that same determination…but the effect is the same. There’s a certain warm and fuzzy feeling knowing that NAVCANADA and SAR can find a downed aircraft in a fairly remote location, all by having taken the few extra seconds to enter the coordinates on a simple flight planning form.
Masek’s presentation began with his emphasizing that the primary purpose of the AWWS (and ASEP) is to, “impart as much knowledge to users as we possibly can.”. To that end, he added that the website itself is an evolving one based on user input (that’s us guys). According to Masek and Foottit, there are approximately 30 flight plans filed per day on line. There were a few remarks about the challenges of filing on-line from home when a fair amount of time must be taken to get from home to the airport, to get one’s plane out of the hangar and properly prepared for the flight. Between the time one files from home and the proposed time of departure, anything can happen that can disrupt one’s plans. That can add pressure to the pilot to “get there and get going”. A few others in the audience were able to empathize with that situation and the general consensus there seemed to be that adding extra time to one’s calculations can go far in relieving that pressure to “get going”, although how much extra time can never truly be known.
Masek then spoke of the vision of NAVCANADA’s AWWS service. He said it is (NAVCANADA’s vision) to, “provide a complete and integrated flight planning service” for its customers (again, that’s you’n’me). Specifically, NAVCANADA provides weather information, NOTAMs, the ability to file a flight plan online, to receive weather information via email, access to weather cameras, ASEP products and, eventually, on-line aviation publications. Basically, it is the intent of NAVCANADA to provide “one stop shopping” for all aviation weather and flight planning products which pilots all need before undertaking any flight.
The background portion of the presentation seemed to focus on the economics of time vis a vis obtaining weather information. The AWWS “satisfies the pilot requirement for Internet access to Canadian weather services” by having as many complementary and supplementary products as is possible in one place. Adding to that, Masek mentioned that the AWWS decreased the “number of repetitive updates and briefings” that weather briefers in both the FICs and FSSs (too) often find themselves performing. The system itself is very reliable and has what was called “two hot-swappable servers” to provide the redundancy necessary for the provision of weather services. The practical upshot of this is that the service almost never goes down. So, even though the system is operating 24/7, should one server go down, the other picks it all up without any interruption whatsoever. The system is also well able to accommodate new products, hence the evolving nature of the service itself.
So, how many hits does the website actually get? According to Foottit, Cryderman and Masek, the AWWS receives a little under 30,000 site visits each day. Other statistics include the fact that there are over 21,000 users who have created their own weather profiles and access the site on a regular basis. Of those users, pilots who fly recreationally (meaning, non-commercially) account for nearly 50% of all registered users, so the AWWS is a system that is being used.
The products themselves were outlined by Masek and it confirms what is generally felt about the website itself: mainly that it is a fairly intuitive and user friendly site even though some new and interesting facts were revealed.
Masek went through each product on the site and defined some of the meaning behind each one. For example, when a user clicks on the “local data” tab and enters the identifier of an aerodrome, she or he will receive information within a 50 nm radius of that aerodrome, any NOTAM information, SIGWX, current weather, forecast conditions as well as upper wind weather. On the issue of NOTAMs themselves, both Masek and Foottit assured the audience NOTAM access would be made more sensible so that pilots would, “…get what they need.” A poignant example made by Foottit involved a pilot who, during the state visit of US president George W. Bush, sought NOTAM information on Rockcliffe airport (CYRO) an aerodrome roughly 10 nm northeast of Ottawa International (CYOW). Although airspace restrictions had been in place in the area, the NOTAM information for Rockcliffe did not indicate this. The pilot had wanted NOTAM information for Rockcliffe only so, although he got precisely what he had asked for, he did not get what he needed. NAVCANADA’s plans include making sure that the website will “provide the best and most complete information on NOTAMs”. In other words, pilots will be able to get more useful information.
It had been suggested that a clickable map could be developed so that pilots could obtain NOTAM information that way, however, Foottit said this would not be feasible in the near term, given that NOTAMs themselves are not yet “georeferenced”. In other words, how much NOTAM information is necessary can not be accurately determined by clicking on a map.
Next came an overview of GFAs (Graphic Area Forecast maps). In Canada, there are 7 regions in which graphical weather information can be obtained. The maps contain significant and current weather along with forecast conditions and upper wind information. The primary benefit of graphical information is that it gives pilots a “snapshot” of where fronts (and their associated weather) are at the specified time periods (ie 00:00Z, 06:00Z, 12:00Z, 18:00Z). One of the main criticisms of the current setup is that trying to discern any frontal movement (and, by inference, any significant weather) involves much clicking on the links at the top of the page, followed invariably by using the “back” and “forward” buttons on one’s browser. This is an important point, as many pilots use the GFAs to provide that much more information. Many go/no-go decisions are made on the basis of products such as the GFA and so whatever information this product can provide is very much appreciated. The areas of significant weather are outlined and given a letter designation so that the user can refer to the remarks box on the right hand side of the page to learn even more. Extracting as much information as is possible out of a product goes far in helping the pilot make informed decisions.
The Route Data product was then discussed by Masek. Although most of the pilots in the room (if not all) has used this feature, Masek provided some specific information on what information the product itself provided. Pilots entering one (and only 1) departure and arrival point (but with provisions to include up to 15 enroute points – as would be used for, say, a polygon shaped route) would receive weather and NOTAM information for the proposed route and a 100nm “corridor”. This was an interesting morsel of information second only to the fact that pilots did not need to be restricted to only one enroute point.
To use the “My Wx Data” feature, users must be registered. Personal weather information pages can accommodate up to 10 weather “folders”. This is a very useful feature for pilots who fly a specific route regularly as entering the information for each time the route is flown would be tedious. Other benefits to this feature include the fact that one’s personal weather data is accessible from any Internet PC. Any information that is unaccessed for a year, however, is purged from the system unless NAVCANADA is told by the user to hang onto it. Users themselves can add, edit and delete any folder or folders they create which, as both Masek and Foottit pointed out, places total control of the information squarely on the user’s shoulder. Similarly, the “Wx Mail” service requires that the user not only be registered but have a valid e-mail address. With this feature, (user configurable, of course), weather information is e-mailed to the user up to 5 times per day, 7 days per week. The information that is sent is all the alphanumeric information (again, as entered by the user) for a given flight and links to all the relevant graphic information. So, users who indicate that they wish to receive weather information for, say, Ottawa to Fredericton will not subsequently get information on Baker Lake.
The Internet Flight planning System is a fairly simple “subroutine”. Users obtain an access number from NAVCANADA and, essentially, just fill in the blanks (including the use of the highly prized ‘ZZZZ’ feature) and press the “submit” button. From the moment that takes place, the flight plan information is in “the system” fairly rapidly, though Masek and Cryderman did advise pilots to file online at least 1 hour before the flight The intricacies in filing an IFR flight plan vis a vis full system penetration of information were detailed by both Masek and Foottit. This was in response to a remark that the submission of an IFR flight plan meant that some controllers had the information right away; however, Masek cautioned against assuming that any agency who had the information did not mean that all agencies had the information. In other words, just because an aerodrome terminal at one’s point of departure had your flight plan in the system does not mean that the tower personnel had the information or that anyone at the arrival terminal had the flight plan. The general advice was to wait about 30-45 minutes from submitting the IFR flight plan. Of course, VFR flight plans don’t usually require as much flight following so the set-up is much simpler.
As with much else on the AWWS, users can store, retrieve, modify and delete up to 10 specific flight plans. So, if, for instance, a pilot flies the same route every Sunday evening, it’s only a matter of a few clicks to call up a stored flight plan and activate it instead of entering each individual piece of information over and over again. As for a given flight, the system is limited to users filing up to 5 individual flight plans over a 4 hour period. So, if a pilot plans to fly from, say, Ottawa to Smith’s Falls, stop for lunch and maybe a visit and then on from Smith’s Falls to Kingston, take another break, fly to Peterborough, take another break and then fly back to Ottawa, users can file the whole trip under one big flight plan or break it into 4 individual plans. There are advantages and disadvantages to doing it either way, mostly in the form of convenience, but primarily in the form of advising whomever you close your flight plan with. In other words, is it easier to have to open and close 4 individual flight plans or just open and close one big long flight plan? In the former, pilots would be able to spend more time having lunch or visiting because the stopwatch isn’t going, but they would have to remember to close each flight plan. If there is no phone at the arrivals aerodrome and they cannot raise the nearest FIC, that can cause problems. However, the main disadvantage to filing one big long flight plan is that timing is critical; you can’t take an extra long lunch or visit. However, the fact that pilots have a choice makes the Internet Flight Planning Service that much more flexible and would, hopefully, result in more pilots using this product. Flight plans can be filed between 1 and 24 hours in advance of proposed time of departure, although the system will issue a warning if pilots file less than1 hour in advance before accepting the flight plan particulars.
An interesting issue was raised about the use of a master flight plan. Some pilots already had master flight plans “on file” and wondered if that could still be used. The answer was a simple “no” but only because of the incompatibility between the current system and the older one which contained the master flight plans on old databases. While there is the expectation that any current database and older one would be integrated into a single system, that is not the case at this point and so pilots are asked to create their own “master flight plan” rather than relying on an older one.
Next in Masek’s presentation was the subject of weather cams. As with any of the features on the AWWS and ASEP, the weather cam is designed to be one ingredient in the weather picture. Located at 13 airports and along critical flight areas (ie VFR mountain routes which are notorious for near instantaneous weather changes), weather cams display colour pictures of local conditions. The information is updated every 30 minutes (every 10mn in the near future), will display nearby METAR information (if available) and a simple click on the initial image (a thumbnail) will open the image in its full size. Historical images over the past 3 hours are retained for reference and it is expected that the current quality of image will improve as the current analogue-to-digital process becomes fully digitized.
But the moment most people in the audience were awaiting was the introduction and discussion of the ASEP (Automated Supplementary Enroute weather Predictions ) suite of products. This is a series of aviation weather products which are solely computer generated using data from models of atmospheric conditions in the past. Masek emphasized that there is no human intervention in the generation of these aviation products.
Although this is the newest set of products provided by NAVCANADA, it is already one of the most visited parts of the website. Users can select a route, altitude and the various weather products they need. For example, a trip from Ottawa (CYOW) to Kitchener (CYKF) can be plotted on both a cross-section graph (always left to right) and a planform graph and depict temperature, forecast icing conditions, head/tailwinds and the existence of moisture conducive to cloud formation. This last point is an interesting one because the cloud coverage during the (future) flight can really only be inferred as a function of the humidity/moisture content of the air itself. We are all familiar with the scenario in which fog can easily form in air that has a relative humidity of only 94% but this is only because there are enough condensation nuclei present to generate said fog. As well, some of us are familiar with flying in air that has a relative humidity of 100% but is perfectly free of clouds because there are no condensation nuclei present. The ASEP display of cloud coverage presumes that there is enough moisture and condensation nuclei to produce cloud but can not predict with 100% accuracy that cloud will be encountered during the flight. Both MSL pressure and the existence of mechanicial turbulence (where air meets and mixes with surface features to produce that gut lurching bouncing around).
An observation was made by one of the audience that the time legend depicted on both the cross-section and planform graphs is only seen once, at the very top of the page. This was followed by the suggestion that the time legend be shown at the top of both graphs, a suggestion that Cryderman, Masek and Foottit took to heart. The question of why the jet stream itself was not readily depicted on the graphs was asked. Both Foottit and Masek replied that in cases where the jet stream itself was located at a fairly high latitude combined with a proposed flight path which encountered the jet stream at only a small location, that the depiction of the jet stream was not all that necessary.
A small but useful feature of the ASEP products is that users entering information are issued a PIN#. The purpose of this PIN number is to coordinate with whatever human weather briefer a user may with to consult should some uncertainty about the data present itself. So, rather than trying to describe an image to a weather briefer over the phone, users need only giver the PIN number to the briefer who then enters that into the system and can call up the exact same set of data the user has. This cuts down on any ambiguity!
The publications section of the AWWS features access to the AWWS User’s guide, the ubiquitous FAQ, links to the US ADDS site and links for non-kiosk (ie DUATs) users.
The publications themselves include the MANAIR (Forecasting Standards), MANAB (Manual of Abbreviations), tutorials, other weather links and associated aviation websites (ie TC, FAA) and the new NOTAM Manual link will be there very soon too.
There was a comment or two about how the system is paid for. The implication seemed to be that as taxpayers are already paying for MSC/EC weather products that the annual NAVCANADA fee is a form of “double taxation”. Foottit explained that while the MSC/EC provides all public weather services at taxpayer expense, that NAVCANADA has a contract with MSC to provide aviation weather which NAVCANADA subsequently purchases and disseminates to pilots. While there may be one set of observations made, the standards between public weather and aviation weather is different. The public, for instance, may be satisfied in knowing that it’ll be foggy tomorrow but the pilot would need more detailed information, such as visibility. A public seeing the word “foggy” makes more sense than seeing “VV04” whereas the converse would make much more sense to the pilot. While Environment Canada uses the information obtained by their observations to generate the public forecast, it is NAVCANADA who must purchase the aviation weather information. The observers who take the weather observations for NAVCANADA are not paid out of tax dollars; we pilots pay for that service.
Finally, Masek talked about future enhancements. These include the ability to select and save individual weather products in “My Flight Folder”, again to streamline the process of obtaining weather for a proposed flight. Another possibility includes the capacity for users to simply “mouse over” an area on a given GFA to obtain yet more specific information. Printer-friendly options and the perennial improvements to the website are also in the offing but those are dependent on input from the users. In other words, it is up to each of us to let NAVCANADA know what we need.
Another improvement planned involves more satellite and radar animation along with integrating our data with the US and, one day, all of North America. The hope is that, sometime in the not-too-distant future, a pilot can go to NAVCANADA’s AWWS only to obtain all the necessary flight planning and weather information for a trip between, say, Ottawa and Sacramento, without worrying about incompatibilities between the US data representation and Canada’s.
We finished the evening with a quick question and answer session and we each received the latest Aviation Weather Services Guide. Far from being dry reading (no pun intended) it’s chock full of interesting information that all pilots should use.
Intrepid COPA Flight 8 Captain Mike Shaw Attends Short Wing Piper Convention
Here are three shots of the Short Wing Piper Club's annual convention - in Vancouver, Washington,
PA-22-108 Colt N5191Z is owned by Drew Jenkins and was chosen as the Grand Champion Short Wing at the Convention. It is covered with Ceconite using the Randolph dope process.
Row of short wings at the convention. There were between 75 and 100 who flew their short wing Pipers to the convention.
Mike Shaw telling 250 or so attendees about the convention which will be held in Kingston, Ontario -. Plan to be there!
COPA Flight 8 May meeting saved from certain disaster!
Flight 8 Meeting
By Ruth Merkis-Hunt
Despite the abundance of technology, or perhaps because of it, the May 25th COPA Flight 8 meeting did not go off quite as planned. NAVCANADA’s weather services experts; John Foottit, Nathalie Cryderman and Mike Masek were unable to deliver their original presentation to the nearly 25 Flight members in attendance because the overhead projector was not working. Yet, the disappointment felt by many, but expressed by none, did not stop the flight from having a lively Q&A session.
The subject of the impromptu Q&A meeting centred on the delivery of aviation weather and flight planning services to pilots. Foottit made it known that any complaints or problems regarding the use of AWWS should be addressed to NAVCANADA for a quick response. However, both Masek and Foottit emphasized that anyone submitting a question, comment or complaint should include as many ways of getting back in touch as possible. Foottit punctuated his request by describing a scenario in which his attempt to reply to a customer through the provided e-mail address bounced back (there’s that technology biting back once again).
Most of the remaining questions, comments and suggestions focused on NAVCANADA’s AWWS website, including the newest feature, the ASEP, or Automated Supplementary Enroute weather Predictions. Essentially, the ASEP now provides more route specific features depending on what the pilot selects. For example, using ASEP, a pilot can see what the forecast turbulence will be during the enroute time selected. One caveat though: the products displayed are based on “processed numerical forecast”. In other words, a computer has provided the forecast information, not a person. So, pilots are still encouraged to make their decisions using the best technology available but to still use as much human input as possible, such as PIREPs, for example.
Subsequent questions drew attention to some of the challenges when flying between the US and Canada, notably the fact that weather information stops right at the US border which can make flying in or near Windsor more difficult. Other questions/comments focused on the difficulties some pilots experience when trying to use a Canadian cellphone to make a call to fight service centres in the US. Both Foottit and Masek replied by mentioning how the FAA and NAVCANADA are working to amalgamate weather services. As with all services, particularly aviation ones, maintenance, research and development not to mention improvements cost money and Foottit added that the many suggestions offered by pilots to address these concerns are acted on based on priority.
An interesting statement was made by Foottit when asked about the need or usefulness of a pin number when using the features on the website. He mentioned that one of the features of ASEP is that pilots experiencing difficulty making sense of the data need only talk to the FIC. Upon disclosing the pin number, both pilot and FIC personnel can look at precisely the same information. This way, the pilot does not have to engage in a tedious exchange of what the problem is.
The questions and comments soon evolved into a series of suggestions, including providing animation on the GFA pages (“maybe in the future”), making the cloud colour scale on the ASEP page somewhat more intuitive (there was mass agreement there) and improving communication between the various FICs.
So, while the failure of technology prevented John Foottit, Mike Masek and Nathalie Cryderman from delivering their initial presentation it was the ingenuity of a room full of pilots which made the May 25th meeting successful.
The original presentation will be delivered but, with the flying season getting started, not until September. As compensation, it was suggested that Foottit, Masek and Cryderman spring for a few dozen doughnuts.
Carp Airport Update
Flight 8 Meeting
COPA Flight 8’s regular monthly meeting was combined with a public meeting called by the City of Ottawa to update everyone interested in the Carp Airport about developments there.
The meeting was held at the Irish Springs Golf and Country Club and was attended by almost 200 people.
Dave Donaldson, the City of Ottawa property manager responsible for the Carp Airport, started the evening off with a presentation detailing the latest plan.
Donaldson explained that City Council had approved a plan in that will see the Carp Airport remain as an airport beyond the date mandated by Transport Canada. TC requires the airport to remain an airport until that date as part of the transfer agreement with the city. The plan calls for the sale of the airport lands to West Capital Developments (WCD) and details how they will develop the lands and operate the airport on an ongoing basis.
Donaldson went on to state that City Council approved the current plan for the airport on . The key principle of the plan is to ensure the ongoing viability of the airport with no financial risk to the city.
The new plan conforms to the City’s Official Plan as it confines development to the airport boundary, designates the proposed residential airpark as an “accessory use” of the airport and assures that the water and sewer servicing meets environmental requirements and does not affect the surrounding communities.
Donaldson also described the current agreement with WCD. WCD is currently in the option phase of their agreement to develop the airport in accordance with their business plan. Under this plan the airport will consist of three sections – the core airport, an expanded aerospace business park and a residential housing development. The city reserves the right to buy back the core airport facility at any time for the nominal amount that was paid for it.
Some of the changes in the new option agreement are that the residential community will use on-site water and sewer facilities, rather than running lines from nearby communities. To accommodate the septic requirements, the number of housing lots will be reduced from the originally planned 750 to 280.
The plans to extend the runway have also been amended. The new agreement states that runway 10-28 will be extended inside the present airport boundary and will not encroach upon surrounding farmland or environmentally sensitive creek area.
Donaldson stated that WCD will be constructing a new airport terminal building starting this summer, with a completion date of .
Existing airport tenant Helicopter Air Transport, will be buying 6 acres of land next to their present location and building a new 40,000 sq ft hangar there.
The Federal Government has also signed on as a tenant with its new RCMP training centre. Agreements have been reached with TC and also Nav Canada who have a large navaid test facility on the field.
WCD has committed to amassing an $800,000 airport reserve fund that will be used for upgrades and ongoing maintenance of the airport infrastructure. This amount will be reserved from the sale of lots on the airport.
Donaldson stated that the current city plan and option agreement with WCD will have many long-term benefits for the airport. It will underwrite the cost of airport operations, while at the same time giving the city approval over the WCD airport budget on a continuing basis. Also the city will receive market value for the non-core airport lands as they are sold. Airport lease increases will be limited to the annual inflation rate detailed by the Consumer Price Index, protecting tenants from unreasonable increases to pay for the developments.
Donaldson assured the crowd that this plan will secure the long-term viability of the Carp Airport.
Donaldson also detailed that WCD will be paying for $135,000 worth of work on the field in . This includes runway crack sealing, work on the airport access roads on the property, correcting problems with “T” hangar drainage, improvements to water treatment, constructing a new access road to the EAA hangars, buying a new airport vehicle and CRFI runway friction testing equipment, finishing the work required to certify runway 04-22, update the airport operations manual, complete a safety and security audit and improve deer and bird control measures.
The City of Ottawa will also be making improvements to the main north side access route that leads to the airport, the Thomas Argue Road.
WCD officers, including WCD President John Phillips, next made a presentation detailing the new terminal building. They stated that they expect that the facility will be started in August and open in . It will provide facilities for clubs and training, washrooms and phone access 24 hours a day, the Unicom radio station and itinerant aircraft hangar space.
The building will be 12,000 sq ft in total, including the 2400 sq ft terminal building.
The terminal ramp facility will feature aircraft fuelling pumps with 100LL avgas plus free-flow and pressure Jet-A refuelling. There will also be aircraft tie down space outside on the new ramp area.
The terminal building will offer a training classroom, a pilot lounge, washrooms with showers, a passenger lounge, vending machines, a Canada Customs area for CANPASS arrivals, an airports operations office, offices for WCD itself and a heritage display outlining the history of the Carp airport. The heritage display will receive support from the City of Ottawa’s Heritage Department.
Donaldson finished off the presentation emphasizing that there are no plans to move any existing buildings occupied by hangar tenants. He also said that a price for residential lots has not been established yet. He thanked everyone involved in the airport and noted that with the cooperation of all parties involved this airport can be successful and work for everyone.
Joanne Lancaster Talks About Weather Forecasting
Flight 8 Meeting
By Mike Shaw, Flight 8 Captain
We had over 20 people at the March 23rd joint meeting of COPA Flight 8, the 99's and Women in Aviation. Joanne Lancaster of Environment Canada gave presention on the statistical accuracy of aviation weather forecasts and it was well received. The bottom line was that forecasts tend to be quite accurate and when they are wrong they tend to predict too much IMC rather than too much VMC.
COPA President Kevin Psutka questioned if the consolidation into to the two national forecasting offices had helped or hindered accuracy. Issues such as graphic products stopping at the Canadian border were raised. Also the potential for the US to develop a GFA sounded encouraging. Other questions dealt with the delay in presentation of lightning and thunderstorm data on EC's website for commercial reasons. There were several questions about how to file a PIREP and maybe we can do a future meeting on that.
Kevin Psutka also updated us on the requirement to call ahead for a transponder code in Ottawa, the ELT status, airport diagrams on Nav Canada's website and took some general questions. Nav Canada has posted the airport diagrams as a new publication CAMS - Canadian Airport Manoeuvring Surfaces which is now available on the Nav Canada website. (Warning - it is a large 10.5 Mb download)
We adjourned to the pub after 2130.
COPA HQ update
Flight 8 Meeting
By Ruth Merkis-Hunt
February is generally a cold month with little flying done. Yet, many COPA flights continue to meet anyway to discuss important issues which may affect them. COPA flight 8's February meeting was just such an event.
COPA headquarter's Adam Hunt was the guest speaker for the February meeting and he presented an update on three main topics, the first being the Nav Canada fee structure. With the theme, "COPA wants to know your thoughts", Hunt sought input on how we as pilots and aircraft owners can pay for the services provided by Nav Canada without it costing us everything we have, especially since the Nav Canada fee for light aircraft went up from $65.00 per aircraft/year to $72.00 per aircraft/year. There were many suggestions provided by the 16 people in attendance but the most prominent suggestion was that we claim the tax we pay on the fuel we use as our contribution to the air navigation services which are provided by Nav Canada.
The second topic that evening focused on the proposed 406 ELT situation. Nearly all those present are aware that the current satellite system will be decommissioned effective in . This means that the current 121.5 MHz ELTs will no longer be as useful after that date. The problem there, as Hunt pointed out, is that the new 406ELTs are extremely expensive compared to the current 121.5 ELTs. Those in attendance were visibly appalled at this reality and, once again, suggestions were solicited as to options. Most aircraft owners are not in the position to pay the thousands of dollars it would cost to comply with this new regulation and many more don't see this as a necessary step either, given the kind of flying that most of us do. Most of the attendees felt that carrying a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) would be much less expensive and an equally effective option to the 406 ELT. Reasons there included the reality that many "crash landings" do not activate the ELTs themselves; that some crashes result in the aircraft burning or sinking in which case the ELT is not only lost but is useless anyway. A PLB, on the other hand, remains with the pilot and so would transmit his or her location.
The third topic discussed was more lighthearted; that COPA Flight 8 has a new website. Webmaster, Adam Hunt, designed and posted the website.
How TC Deals With Noise Complaints
Flight 8 Meeting
For the January meeting of COPA Flight 8 Ottawa, Flight Captain Mike Shaw invited Transport Canada’s Tom Lowrey, Program Manager, Noise Management and Land Use to address the club.
Lowrey gave an interesting talk about how TC deals with noise complaints at those airports that do not have noise management committees set up. He went into some depth on the history of this issue including the development of CAR 601.18, which allows the Minister of Transport to make restrictions on aerodromes and aircraft for “public interest” reasons not related to aviation safety. This CAR came about as a result of a situation at Lac St Augustin near Quebec City several years ago that required the personal intervention of the Minister of Transport at the time.
Lowrey covered the current TC process for resolving noise complaints and how it replaces the need for the Minister of Transport to get personally involved in the resolution of these issues. Instead the current TC process involves seven steps that result is a complete definition of the problem and facilitates local solutions. The current process is set up to achieve a balance for the legitimate needs of aviation against the complaints of the local residents.
Lowrey’s talk also delved into federal zoning regulations and how they work in Canada, including the onus on the municipalities to enforce these federal regulations.
All in all it was an interesting presentation that provided a lot of new information to members of Flight 8.
COPA Flight 8 Tours NRC Flight Research Lab
Flight 8 Meeting
Not much has been printed about COPA Flight 8 Ottawa recently – not because the Flight isn’t doing anything but mostly because things have been too busy to catch up on the reports!
Flight 8 meets monthly and specializes in guest speakers. Flight Captain Mike Shaw usually does the hard work of arranging speakers to come to the Flight’s usual meeting place at the Ottawa Flying Club or having the flight go somewhere for a special simulator session or tour.
October was the month for a break for Mike Shaw from his usual organizing duties as Flight member Carolyn Stewart set up a visit to the National Research Council’s Flight Research Laboratory at the Ottawa Airport.
Experimental Test Pilot, Research Scientist and COPA member Rob Erdos stayed late to conduct the tour for the Flight 8 members. The evening started off with a slide presentation giving an overview of the work of NRC and the Flight Research Lab in particular. Touching on some of the lab’s key work in computer vision systems, innovative control systems for helicopters, aircraft icing research and braking research that produced the new Canadian Runway Friction Index, Erdos took the group across the spectrum of the great science being done by the NRC these days.
The second part of the evening was a tour of the hangar, where Flight 8 members got a close look at the NRC’s unique fleet of research aircraft, including the Convair 440, Twin Otter, T-33, Bell 412, 205 and 206 helicopters, Dassault Falcon 20 and the venerable and much flown Harvard Mk IV.
The tour was a wonderful window to the interesting work being done by the NRC Flight Research Laboratory. With their newfound appreciation of this it is likely that Flight 8 members, when hearing the “Research” call sign on the radio in the Ottawa area will now ask themselves – “What are they up to now and how can we prevent it?”
The Flight welcomes any visitors to join them for their guest speakers and tours.