The Government of Canada Takes Action to Enhance Air Safety

Digital Journal – December 2nd, 2011

The Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, today announced proposed new regulations to enhance the safety of Canadian aviation. These regulations would require private and commercial airplanes with six or more passenger seats to be equipped with an alert system known as the "terrain awareness and warning system" (TAWS).

"Our government will continue strengthening aviation safety for Canadians," said Minister Lebel. "Using TAWS will significantly reduce the risk of airplane crashes with land, water or obstacles."

TAWS provides acoustic and visual alerts to flight crews when the path of their aircraft is predicted to collide with terrain, water or obstacles — a situation that can occur when visibility is low or the weather is poor. This gives the flight crew sufficient time to take evasive action.

These types of accidents often happen when pilots are unaware of the danger until it is too late. The risk is even greater for small aircraft, which fly further into remote wilderness or mountainous areas but are not currently required to have the same proximity warning equipment as large airliners.

The proposed regulations comply with the International Civil Aviation Organization's standards and help harmonize Canadian regulations more closely with those of other aviation authorities, including those in the United States and European Union. Canada's Transportation Safety Board also recommends the wider use of TAWS to help pilots assess their proximity to terrain.

Transport Canada is committed to the continuous improvement of aviation safety. These proposed amendments will be pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on December 3, 2011. Stakeholders will have a 75-day consultation period to comment on the proposed regulations before they are finalized and published in the Canada Gazette, Part II.
 

TERRAIN AWARENESS AND WARNING SYSTEMS

Terrain awareness and warning systems (TAWS) provide acoustic and visual alerts to flight crews when the path of their aircraft is predicted to collide with terrain, water or obstacles. This gives the crew sufficient time to take evasive action.

Airplane collisions with ground, water or obstacles, called "controlled flights into terrain," often result in fatalities. This is a serious concern for Transport Canada. If implemented, the proposed regulations will significantly reduce the risk of such collisions.

In October 2011, Minister Lebel approved the proposed regulations and recommended them to the Treasury Board. The amendments would require TAWS to be installed in private and commercial airplanes with six or more passenger seats to prevent controlled flights into terrain.

The majority of Canadian operators that fly passenger airplanes internationally have already equipped their fleets with TAWS. It is estimated that the proposed regulations would save approximately $215 million over a 10-year period by preventing deaths, serious injuries and material damage.

The regulations for TAWS will replace the current regulatory requirement for a ground proximity warning system (GPWS) under section 605.37 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations. In comparison to GPWS, TAWS gives the flight crew much earlier acoustic and visual warnings of a collision, and does so under conditions where GPWS cannot.

The proposed regulatory amendments would require TAWS to be installed with an enhanced altitude accuracy function. TAWS requires precise altitude information to work properly in all climates. Without the enhanced altitude accuracy function, TAWS may give altitude readings that are incorrect by up to 500 feet because of factors such as air pressure and frigid temperatures.

Operators would have two years from the date the regulations come into force to equip their airplanes with TAWS and five years to equip them with the enhanced altitude accuracy function.

These proposed amendments will be pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on December 3, 2011. Stakeholders will have a 75-day consultation period to comment on the proposed regulations before the regulations are finalized and published in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

Original Article on Digital Journal website