Tuesday, April 04, 2017

What Goes Up...

Is Canada headed for a major airline disaster? Apparently the odds of a major aviation accident in our country are worsening.

Cuts to Transport Canada have been eating away at its civil aviation flying program, according to the Canadian Federal Pilots Association, leading 81 per cent of licensed pilots surveyed to conclude that a “major aviation accident in the near future is likely.”

“Having aviation inspectors who do not know how to fly the aircraft that they’re inspecting, is like having a traffic cop who doesn’t know how to drive a car,” said Greg McConnell, national chair of the CFPA, which commissioned the survey by Abacus Data.

The association also blamed a new federal system that it says has left inspectors spending most of their time in offices reviewing paperwork, rather than being out in the field doing active inspections, and warned airports won't be subject to full safety assessments.

The association’s data shows that the civil aviation flying program has been cut from almost $8 million in 2008-09 to a low of $3.5 million in 2016-17, while flying hours have dropped from over 10,000 to just under 4,000 in this time period.

The number of aircraft used in training has dropped as well, from 42 aircraft to 14 in this time period.

The department suffered several rounds of full-time equivalent job cuts during the Harper government, losing over 100 positions between 2009-10 and 2014-15.

I have trouble buying the claim that aviation inspectors need to be pilots, that they need to know how to fly the aircraft they're inspecting. After all, the people who keep these aircraft in the sky, the ground crew, the mechanics, engine techs and such aren't likely to know how to fly the aircraft they work on nor would anyone expect that of them.

Still, if 81% of licensed pilots believe a major aviation accident in Canada in the near future is "likely" something probably should be done about that.


Toby said...

This might have something to do with it: "You’re making maybe $25,000 per year and you’re working 12 to 14 hour days . . ."


There was a lot of talk a couple of years ago about poorly paid pilots working long hours, particularly on the cheap-seat flights. That's a recipe for trouble.

The Mound of Sound said...

I don't think this is a pilot fatigue problem, Toby. It's about the mechanical maintenance and inspection of commercial airliners.

Toby said...

Agreed, Mound. It's the same issue. It's the stretching of human resources to the breaking point. Workload goes up; paycheck goes down; hours added on. Eventually something breaks. The cheap labour advocates win again.

The Mound of Sound said...

Like the Listeria deaths after the deregulation of packing plants, a lot of this aviation threat relates to a libertarian approach t0o air safety at the federal government level. We have inculcated, in a significant segment of the population, an orthodoxy that holds regulation is bad, stifling, regressive. No one seems to champion the role our regulatory regime plays in our safety, security and even our prosperity. That's a case that is not being made.