Controversial new rules proposed by Transport Canada, which would put restraints on pilot flying time, are being called “absurd” and “stupid” by some in the industry in the North.
The changes could force some northern air operators — and supporting businesses in communities — to shut down, says Glenn Priestley, executive director of the Northern Air Transport Association (NATA).
“Many communities will lose their aviation lifelines, or have the cost of the service increase dramatically.”
– Glenn Priestley, Northern Air
“If these rules go through by Transport Canada, regarding flight and duty times, there’s going to be a significant increase in the cost to deliver all forms of northern and remote society services,” he said.
“Or there will be a reduction in services — one or the other.”
Either way, it will “impose economic hardship on Canadians and communities,” said Priestley, whose group advocates for a safe, sustainable northern transportation system, and has been lobbying Ottawa to consider the unique situation in the North.
”Many communities will lose their aviation lifelines, or have the cost of the service increase dramatically,” he wrote in a letter to MP Wayne Easter, chair of the standing committee on finance, for consideration ahead of the federal budget.
The rules, which are still being reviewed by Transport Minister Marc Garneau, are designed to prevent pilot fatigue through a “very complicated formula of flight and duty time,” Priestley said.
They would limit shifts by capping the hours that can be worked or the number of takeoffs and landings that can be done.
There are also strict guidelines on how much rest must be taken at night as well as after shift lengths and before a pilot can fly again.
‘Never seen more controversy’
Joe Sparling, president of Yukon-based Air North, said the proposed rules make no sense and it’s not surprising the air industry is furious.
“You know I’ve probably never…