Canadian Pilots Take on Airline Industry’s Top Issues
October 1, 2009 - ALPA’s Canada Board convened in Toronto this week with nearly 50 in attendance. The Toronto meeting attracted leaders from ALPA-represented Canadian pilot groups including Air Canada Jazz, Air Transat, Bearskin, Calm Air, CanJet, First Air, Kelowna, and Wasaya. The two-day summit gave pilots an opportunity to discuss issues affecting the piloting profession on both national and international levels, as well as to hear from representatives from industry and government.
Capt. Dan Adamus (ACJ), ALPA executive vice-president of the Group C airlines, set the tone in his opening remarks. “It promises to be another busy year. From jumpseat issues to defending cockpit voice recorders and unwarranted discipline to pilots due to improper interpretation of the Safety Management System (SMS). We have a lot of work to do.”
ALPA president Capt. John Prater thanked the members of the Canada Board and the elected ALPA representatives in attendance for giving up time with their families to come together and share in discussions on how to advance the piloting profession and move forward as a union.
Speaking on issues of cabotage and the Foreign Worker Program, Prater outlined the importance of working together to advance international legislation for the betterment of pilots worldwide. “I want to stay in tune with what the issues are up here in Canada and how ALPA can assist,” said Prater. “I want to continue reaching out to our Canadian pilot groups to find out where we can assist directly, whether it’s with resources or whether it’s with the horsepower of our union. What can we do better, and how can we be a stronger union?”
ALPA vice-president—finance Capt. Randy Helling presented an industry overview of the last seven years.
ALPA executive administrator Capt. Don Wykoff was on hand to present highlights of the BOD Strategic Plan developed by ALPA leaders one year ago and discussed fatigue and flight-/duty-time issues, including an update of the FAA/ARC study and the Fatigue Risk Management System.
Members of industry and government also participated in the summit, including Deborah Ciccotelli, director of Safety and Security at the Canadian Airports Council (CAC); Yves Ducharme, director of Regulatory Affairs at the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), and Jaqueline Booth and Michel Béland of Transport Canada.
The meeting brought to light several aviation security initiatives and crew-screening challenges at Canadian airports. Yves Ducharme of CATSA stressed that both technology and policy-related advancements in security will have international impact. “The recent development of behavior-pattern-recognition systems and the implementation of the Unruly Passenger Policy” are very important steps in the area of security,” said Ducharme. “The Unruly Passenger Policy is geared to mitigate problematic behavior on board aircraft and comes at a time when it will likely be tested soon with the anticipated increased travel expected as we draw closer to the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.”
Canadian Pilot Assistance chairman Capt. Murray Munro (ACJ) presented an overview of ALPA’s Pilot Assistance Program including the Critical Incident Response Program and the Aeromedical and Pilot Support and Resource Committees. Pilot Assistance Training sessions are scheduled for November 9 through 12 in Toronto. “I would like to thank ALPA for making these resources available to our members,” said Munro. “The Pilot Assistance program is making a positive impact.”
Also during the meeting, Adamus presented former ALPA vice-president—finance Capt. Chris Beebe with the ALPA Crystal Goose award. Adamus thanked Beebe and recognized him as an honorary member of the Canada Board for his many years of service to the group.
Canada Board members stand ready to review and act on possible aviation-related legislation on Parliament Hill this year including a possible amendment to the Aeronautics Act, which would enable provisions to the Safety Management System to protect privacy rights. In addition, the Canada Board is looking at ways to maximize the potential for the Restricted Area Identity Card (RAIC), the Canadian equivalent to the U.S. CrewPASS system, and working to modify policies regarding the Foreign Worker Program, which allows Canadian companies to hire foreign pilots.
“Most of our companies compete in one form or another,” said Prater. “Certainly as the industry becomes more global, we find ourselves at potential competition with each other. We need to find solutions that don’t harm another pilot or another pilot group. Let no pilot’s gain come at the expense of another pilot’s pain.”