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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 11:38 am 
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http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Transport+Canada+bans+media+from+float+plane+safety+workshop/3458408/story.html
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Transport Canada bans media from float plane safety workshop
By Larry Pynn, Vancouver Sun August 29, 2010

VANCOUVER - Transport Canada’s decision to ban the media from attending a float plane safety workshop has been criticized sharply from within the industry.

“I feel the press should attend,” insisted Joel Eilertsen, the owner of Air Cab, based in Coal Harbour near Port Hardy. “There’s nothing to be concerned about, nothing to hide.

“It creates a suspicious attitude. I think [the news media] should be able to attend. You should be there to hear the comments from everybody.”

Transport Canada is inviting 55 float plane operators from around B.C. to attend a two-day workshop to discuss ways to make the industry safer.

Ottawa says the Oct. 6-7 workshop in Vancouver will address issues such as “safety record and trends, safety culture, customers’ expectations, protection of passengers, and egress techniques.”

The workshop follows the deaths of 22 people in four commercial float plane accidents over the past two years on the B.C. coast, including six who died in a Seair Seaplanes crash off Saturna Island on Nov. 29.

Martin Eley, director-general of civil aviation in Ottawa, confirmed the decision to “limit the workshop to representatives of the regulator, industry, and safety advocates to facilitate productive regulatory and technical discussions.”

It was Eley who shelved improvements in float plane safety in a letter to a superior in May 2008, saying: “In a subsequent discussion you and I agreed that in the absence of a clear way forward, this file would be put on hold in deference to other civil aviation priorities. Any further work on this file would need to be evaluated in the context of our current organization and our current priorities.”

Among the more contentious issues expected to be debated is whether Transport Canada should mandate a federal transportation safety board recommendation that life vests be worn on float-plane flights.

Five men escaped an MJM Air crash off Quadra Island in 2005, only to drown because they weren’t wearing life jackets and didn’t grab them from the plane before swimming free.

Among other float-plane safety developments, Saltspring Air on Aug. 18 installed the first emergency pop-out windows on a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver seaplane, making it easier for passengers to escape in the event of a crash in water.

In July, The Vancouver Sun reported that B.C.’s major float plane companies were not complying with a Transport Canada request that new float-plane safety brochures provided by Ottawa be distributed to all passengers.

On Friday, The Sun flew aboard a Seair float plane between Richmond and Nanaimo.

Seair did have the Transport Canada pamphlets on a side counter, but not at the check-in counter, where they’d be more obvious. No one distributed them to passengers or even mentioned they existed, which fell short of Transport Canada’s request to industry.

Inside the Seair office in Nanaimo, the Transport Canada pamphlets were positioned front and centre, at the check-in counter.

On the return flight with Harbour Air, there were no pamphlets at all at the check-in counter or waiting area in Nanaimo. An employee said they were out and expecting more. The pamphlets were on the front counter of the airline’s Richmond office.

This safty advocate (me) will be attending, and hopes that as many ops out there as possible will be sending someone. I spoke at length with Dave Nowzek last week and have a positive feeling about it ... even if SMS is a recurring theme ;)

BTW, you may notice there is no comment from me in the above story ... I was asked for one, but frankly, have mixed feelings about the "banning of the press"!


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 12:23 pm 
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The media should be banned. I believe there would be better open dialog between operators and TC without the fear of misquotes and sensationalized reporting by a bunch of media persons trying to make a story where one may not exactly exist. The best dialog exchanged is one where examples can be cited from personal experiences without fear of reprisal. Kind of what the SMS system preaches.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:11 pm 
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Well, one might also point out that there is a lot of float flying that goes on across the country - if Transport Canada is looking for ways to make the industry safer, and intends to implement regulations/policy that will impact all float operators then maybe they should include all float operators?

And like it or not, the media is really the main source of information and voice for the passenger population, who by and large really have no clue about bad operators, unsafe practices and the fact that the regulatory agency responsible for oversight isn't doing any.

Why should the media not be included? They could be invited on a "seen and not heard" basis, in order to ensure transparency and accountability if nothing changes as a result of the workshop. An astute reporter should be able to sift through the bullshit and source out information and interviews after the fact - thereby eliminating any potential disruption or interference to the workshop.

Among many things some transparency and accountability is needed! People who truly care about operating safely don't usually mind being open about how they operate - they have nothing to hide. If the regulatory agency was actually doing their job, they'd have nothing to hide either.

We might not like the way some reporters and/or media venues report the "facts", but many have proven to be very valuable in highlighting industry deficiencies to the traveling public and industry participants. At least getting the information out there may cause passengers to ask questions and arm themselves with information instead of relying on blind faith when they travel.

Just some food for thought...

Cheers,
Kirsten B.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2010 4:30 pm 
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Not sure a workshop is needed. Don't push the weather, Don't push the airplanes limits and Don't fly broken airplanes.
Seems like if they are talking about life jackets , or "pop out windows" they have already come to the conclusion that the crashes will continue to happen.



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:58 am 
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Last edited by armchair on Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 10:20 am 
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Armchair, your take on this coincides well with the impression I got speaking to Dave Nowzek, the Regional Manager. I agree with Snoopy/Kirsten B. though - I don't understand why it should be limited to operators (what about pilots?? ame's?? etc.) from this region. That said, I hope you are right and if things go well they will do the same in other regions - it just seems to me that all the regions could learn from each other.

I also like your idea of an "amnesty" for those involved. I have spoken with a couple of operators and get the feeling that they feel suspicious and/or less than positive about the direction TC is taking.

Is this just another effort to offload responsibility? Gosh I hope not.

BTW, for anyone who is going, I will be staying at the Sheraton the nights of the 5th and 6th. I'd love to meet and chat with any of you ... there or beforehand. Feel free to contact me :D


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 4:56 pm 
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Most "operators" who will be there are made-up of commercial pilots or AMEs, so that should address you concern on that. Not too many white collar non-licensed types in those operations, save perhaps for the largest ones. Unfortunately, TC has never been known to care deeply for the private floatplane folks, or perhaps I should rephrase this, they feel their responsibility is to the commercial world first, and to a certain extent, I have no problem accepting this. TC rarely puts something like this together anymore, but I'm afraid it will also be a lot of show and tell with little to show for afterwards. As I mentinoned earlier, I see no regulatory changes coming out of this, which in the end commercial operators dont want anyway, but a renewed commitment to adopt safe practices. On SMS, I dont think SMS will ever be fully implemented in that sector, so I think TC will need/must increase surveillance to enforce the current rules - which are adequate.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:39 pm 
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armchair wrote:
On SMS, I dont think SMS will ever be fully implemented in that sector, so I think TC will need/must increase surveillance to enforce the current rules - which are adequate.


+1
Well said.



Last edited by ALF on Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:42 am 
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Is this party invite only?


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:34 am 
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Invite only. I believe only Accountable Executives and OP's Managers from the 50 something floatplane companies bombing around on the coast. Plus some TC folks.
My buddy is a DOM for one of the floatplane companies and he requested an invite but was told "not at this time".



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 5:02 pm 
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Apparently, I'm a special case ;)

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:48 am 
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Quote:
B.C. float-plane operators 'turn page in history' to form safety association
BY LARRY PYNN, VANCOUVER SUN
OCTOBER 8, 2010

Continuing float-plane crashes in B.C., including the deaths of six passengers in a tragedy off Saturna Island, have prompted what the industry is calling historic action to improve safety.

B.C.'s commercial float-plane operators wrapped up a two-day workshop organized by Transport Canada on Thursday with a commitment to create a new association dedicated specifically to safety.

"It's a huge first step," Quentin Smith, president of Pacific Coastal Airlines, said in an interview immediately after the closed workshop. "It's turning a page in history and going forward, breaking down the competitive barriers we've had in the past.

"Clearly, the loud message is that we have to work as a team with one voice and sharing information. This is going to be industry-driven, not government. It's about creating an industry standard."

Bill Yearwood, regional manager of the federal transportation safety board, said he attended the workshop as an observer and was encouraged by what he heard. He said an association would provide a more formal structure for allowing float-plane operators to meet and exchange safety ideas and encourage "best practices."

The safety board has been pushing Transport Canada for years to improve safety on float planes through initiatives such as mandatory use of life-preservers during flights and egress improvements that would allow passengers to escape more readily in a crash at sea.

"An association can do a better job of raising the bar," Yearwood said. "The board has tried to identify the risks and solutions on a broad-based level. If the risk is managed voluntarily by all the operators, that would be great."

Last Nov. 29, six passengers, including a mother and her infant daughter, died after they were unable to escape a Seair Seaplanes de Havilland Beaver float plane that sank shortly after crashing into Lyall Harbour off Saturna Island. The pilot and one other passenger survived.

The safety board report into that crash is expected to be released later this year.

The Vancouver Sun published a six-part series into float-plane safety last May and June.

Aviation safety advocate Kirsten Stevens, whose husband was among five men who died in an MJM Air crash off Quadra Island in 2005, noted Transport Canada has given assurances that the operators' safety association will not replace government oversight of the industry.

"I'm coming away with a positive feeling," she said. "The formation of a safety association is something I've wanted to see happen."

Transport Canada, which invited 55 float operators around the province to the workshop, refused to provide anyone to be interviewed Thursday.

Industry representatives will meet again Nov. 4 in Richmond to discuss more details on how the association will be established.

Viking Air of Sidney, the "type certificate holder" for the Beaver, gave a demonstration at the workshop of emergency pop-out windows it has designed for the aircraft. It has also manufactured new easier-to-use door latches similar to those in a motor vehicle, and put two latches on the cabin doors to make it easier for passengers in the forward and aft cabin seats to use them.

Transport Canada has so far not forced industry to implement these safety fixes, but several operators have voluntarily ordered them.

Yearwood said he was also encouraged to hear that the majority of operators have voluntarily installed satellite tracking systems on their aircraft to allow search-and-rescue officials to find downed aircraft faster and help save lives.

Richmond-based Mustang Survival also gave a presentation at the workshop of its life-preservers, which can be worn by pilots and passengers during flight then inflated manually once they escape the aircraft, reducing the need to search for preservers under the seats during a crash.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:58 am 
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"Clearly, the loud message is that we have to work as a team with one voice and sharing information. This is going to be industry-driven, not government. It's about creating an industry standard."
Its already Industry driven with Government endorsement. Why else do the CARs state that everyone is deemed 'tired' except DHC-6 drivers and Air Taxi? Operators and Unions (with Commuter and Airline). Why duty can be 14-17 hrs. Then there is SMS :roll:

Quote:
Yearwood said he was also encouraged to hear that the majority of operators have voluntarily installed satellite tracking systems on their aircraft to allow search-and-rescue officials to find downed aircraft faster and help save lives.
But TC still would allow them as an 'alternate' to the useless and mandated 406 ELT.

If this is to truly work best for safety, than 'Industry' has to be better balanced with the inclusion of PILOTS & citizens.



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 6:08 am 
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phillyfan wrote:
Not sure a workshop is needed. Don't push the weather, Don't push the airplanes limits and Don't fly broken airplanes.
Seems like if they are talking about life jackets , or "pop out windows" they have already come to the conclusion that the crashes will continue to happen.

Ya, what a waste of time. Imagine talking floatplane safety for 2 entire days. Sheeesh...

Pull your head out of the sand Phoolyfan. Discussion is good. Solutions to real world problems are solved this way, through organization, communication, plans of attack and follow-thru.

Here's hoping we'll see some positive steps forward in aviation safety come about because of this new organization.



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 11:29 am 
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Last edited by jeta1 on Sun May 06, 2012 4:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 5:06 pm 
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It's not rocket science. Stop flying heavy, badly maintaned airplanes, in bad weather. There I just saved everybody the travel costs.
If the idea is that shit happens and we are trying to save lives when the inevitable occurs. I say throw helmets on everyone also.



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 9:58 pm 
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Quote:
Stop flying heavy, badly maintaned airplanes, in bad weather
You forgot to mention "while exhausted"...



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 10:38 pm 
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How's about we also use this opportunity to bring up the concept of paying pilots on a per mile basis? I'd really like to see that disappear. That's always seemed like a no brainer to me. Somebody back me up on this one. It's been a few years since I flew on the coast. Are there still guys out there with a per mile rate?


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 2:21 am 
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I'm with you glorifiedtaxidriver, pay by the mile only encourages "flying heavy, badly maintaned airplanes, in bad weather, while exhausted"

PDM folks, PDM.



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 8:04 am 
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Good one Glorified. Another good topic for those who are "turning a page in history" to adress...


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 8:45 am 
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angry inch wrote:
Quote:
Stop flying heavy, badly maintaned airplanes, in bad weather
You forgot to mention "while exhausted"...


Any thoughts on those who self-medicate :even those who only self medicate for recreational purposes ?
A truck driver driving from Seattle to Port Hardy with a load of fruit is subject to drug testing :Why not a pilot flying the same route ?



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 12:56 pm 
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GlorifiedTaxiDriver,

I don't know of any operators on the coast who pay by the mile anymore. I think that went by the wayside with VHS.
Most of us are paid by the duty hour, with a minimum number of duty hours per month during the winter, some are paid by the day, and some are on salary.

You have a valid safety issue point though, I remember guys pushing it to get to their destinations up north 10 years ago because if they didn't land, they didn't get paid.

Angry Inch,

Fatigue is definitely a deadly issue. While most float operators do max out on duty times during the heat of the summer, most are acutely aware of the deadly consequences of fatigue and staff their pilots accordingly. What has always amazed me is the lack of duty restrictions for AME's?

More to come...



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 1:16 pm 
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Phillyfan,

You said:
phillyfan wrote:
It's not rocket science. Stop flying heavy, badly maintaned airplanes, in bad weather. There I just saved everybody the travel costs.

When was the last time you were down here on the Coast? Don't let a couple of rogue backwoods operators who operate out of sight and therefore out of mind taint your view and paint us all with one ugly colored brush. The majority of the float planes flying around down here are impeccably maintained and are 8-9/10 inside and out. These same operators are anal about maintenance, paperwork, weight & balance, loads, etc. (Seair's unfortunate accident has been a catalyst, at least in the newspapers, for this safety session, and they arguably have the most amazingly clean and new fleet around!)

Bad weather is the tricky one. You know how snotty the weather can be between Victoria and Prince Rupert October through March. Pilots make the best decisions possible based on the satellites, GFA's, METAR's, webcams, PIREPS, calling and speaking with eyes in camp, and most importantly, their own experience, local knowledge, and the feedback of other pilots and mentors. Managing risk is what pilots do, and while deciphering what the weather is going to do may not be rocket science, it certainly isn't black and white.

So unfortunately, sometimes even the most experienced guys get cornered or caught with their pants down, and yes, sometimes shit does happen. I know lots of pilots on this site hate that phrase, but it is true, sometimes shit does happen even when all measures were taken to alleviate any question marks.

Which brings me to the second half of your post:
phillyfan wrote:
If the idea is that shit happens and we are trying to save lives when the inevitable occurs. I say throw helmets on everyone also.

Helmets might be the smart choice if people were dying mainly from head injuries, but we're talking floatplane safety here, not heli pilot safety. What is killing the majority of victims in floatplane accidents is one, being unable to exit the aircraft and two, drowning. So maybe rather than throw helmets at everyone, let's improve people's chances of egressing aircraft with better door handles, pop-out windows, etc., and yes, let's throw lifejackets at them too. WHICH IS PRECISELY WHAT THIS GROUP OF SAFETY ADVOCATES IS TRYING TO FACILITATE.

I said it before, and I'll say it again:
180 wrote:
Discussion is good. Solutions to real world problems are solved this way, through organization, communication, plans of attack and follow-thru.

Here's hoping we'll see some positive steps forward in aviation safety come about because of this new organization.



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 3:05 pm 
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Ive flown on several coasts (including that one) So save the BS that eastern float drivers would never understand. Float flying is float flying.

You are gonna have a hard time finding a list of accidents that were just "shit happening". Almost all are going to involve people doing things with floatplanes that they were not meant to do. Either beyond the pilots limits or the airplanes.
I know many put the blame on the operators and hope that a room full of them will solve the problem, but at the end of the day, it's the pilots who are doing the killing. If a guy can't say NO he should find another line of work.

I think you'll find many who are involved in aircraft accidents have significant facial and head injuries.



Last edited by phillyfan on Sun Oct 10, 2010 3:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 3:08 pm 
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180 wrote:
I don't know of any operators on the coast who pay by the mile anymore. I think that went by the wayside with VHS.
Most of us are paid by the duty hour, with a minimum number of duty hours per month during the winter, some are paid by the day, and some are on salary.



When I left the Coast in 2007 I was still getting paid by the mile. There was a base wage per day, but that only accounted for about 50% of your total wage. Come Jan-March when the weather gets really shitty on the coast you start to feel the pinch. By day three of sitting you're willing to go out in weather that you wouldn't go out in on day one. Why? Because the bills need to get paid. I hope this has changed in the last 3 years.



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