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Sms - It Ain't Over Until It's Over


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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MAY 11, 2009

CANADA

 

Air Safety Problems Exposed Online

During Question Period on April 23, the Honorable Rob Merrifield, Secretary of State for Transport, rejected the claims of the NDP Transport Critic, Dennis Bevington, that Canada is not meeting international standards for aviation safety. Perhaps Mr. Merrifield has been duped by bureaucrats in the same manner as the Canadian travelling public.

 

In addition to evidence provided during extensive Committee hearings held in 2007 over a controversial Bill to amend the Aeronautics Act, further proof was recently aired in a landmark Round Table discussion on Air Safety held at Parliament Hill and hosted by Mr. Bevington.

 

The organizers have now created a new website, www.safeskies.ca, which allows media and members of the public to experience the Round Table: to see and hear the revelations made by pilots, industry insiders, whistleblowers and accident victims.

 

“Canadians need to know that despite lessons learned from aviation accidents and related problems in the rail industry, Transport Canada has abandoned them and left their lives in the hands of those responsible for profit margins – a dangerous strategy which is likely to have tragic consequences.”, claims the SafeSkies website.

 

“International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) says you absolutely have to retain your traditional oversight and the fact of the matter is, Transport Canada is simply not doing that and has no intention of doing it” states Greg Holbrook, National Chair of the Canadian Federal Pilots Association (CFPA), during his presentation.

 

Apparently the Canadian Public is travelling under a false sense of security. The major airlines have already been empowered to regulate themselves, and are operating without scrutiny from Transport Canada. A similar situation in the US resulted in national disaster, thousands of cancelled flights and huge public outcry. Business aircraft have been governing themselves since 2003 – though enabling regulations were not actually passed until 2005. Transport Canada’s own audit in 2007 revealed this has created a system plagued with troubling holes. Air Taxi and Commuter aircraft in Canada have not yet been enabled by regulations to govern themselves, yet Transport Canada is no longer overseeing this major sector of aviation either.

 

Other Round Table presentations highlighted the systemic problems within Transport Canada, and the known failures which have caused multiple deaths and destroyed lives.

 

An alliance of individuals and industry representatives is now being formed with its prime focus to seek resolution to these issues, hold Transport Canada accountable to the public, and restore Canadian’s faith in air safety. For information about future developments on these topics, check back with www.safeskies.ca and subscribe to the newsletter.

 

 

Prepared by

Kirsten Stevens and Kirsten Brazier

 

Advocates for Air Safety

 

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You're welcome - and thanks for checking it out! FYI that cartoon was used in Greg Holbrook's presentation, which you can view here: http://safeskies.ca/events/2009-04-21_air_...g_holbrook.html

 

Also, if you check out the press release page (the event following the conference) he made some interesting comments about how Canada isn't meeting ICAO standards with their current approach to oversight (or lack of it) and their implementation of Safety Management Systems in advance of enabling legislation.

 

I sent the release to HAC top brass - I wonder if they will get involved, or if they will continue to remain on the sidelines... With their help, we could make a difference.

 

Best Regards,

tin lizzie

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FYI, all you HAC members, this is all that HAC under Brian Jenner, contributed to the battle against Bill C-6/7 and the SMS mess:

 

http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/P...s=1#Int-1925751

 

In his presentation, Jenner said this:

 

"HAC's roles include identifying problems; searching for solutions; advocating for industry, representing individual operators with regard to those problems and those solutions;..."

 

and this:

 

"The Association's membership now includes 70% of Canada's commercial helicopter operators, an astounding achievement for a voluntary membership organization. As a result of its success in attracting operator membership, the Association has also enrolled 90 helicopter industry suppliers as associate members."

 

Yet I haven't seen much HAC opposition to SMS and a complete abandonment of regulatory oversight in Canada.

 

I presently work for an operator who is a member of HAC, but is frustrated by the fact that HAC, the voice of the helicopter industry, is not taking action on this. It would seem the big money corporations run the (trade) show, and SMS is not on their radar.

 

How well do you think SMS is going to work for your typical helicopter company, operating out of tent camps in the arctic, or mobilizing across country to fight fires?

 

When the customer tiries to kill you as you drop them off or pick them up in a tricky confined area, or you hook up to an unwieldy drill in close quarters, how well do you think SMS is going to work when you can't impose it on the customer, - even more ironic when you consider that most major oil companies want you to have a safety program in place?

 

Do you think allowing helicopter (aircraft) operators to govern themselves, in the complete absence of oversight on the part of Transport Canada is going to decrease the accident rate in Canada?

 

I think not!

 

Hopefully the new president of HAC will take interest in and action on this very important topic.

 

Thanks for listening,

tin lizzie

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FYI, all you HAC members, this is all that HAC under Brian Jenner, contributed to the battle against Bill C-6/7 and the SMS mess:

 

http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/P...s=1#Int-1925751

 

In his presentation, Jenner said this:

 

"HAC's roles include identifying problems; searching for solutions; advocating for industry, representing individual operators with regard to those problems and those solutions;..."

 

and this:

 

"The Association's membership now includes 70% of Canada's commercial helicopter operators, an astounding achievement for a voluntary membership organization. As a result of its success in attracting operator membership, the Association has also enrolled 90 helicopter industry suppliers as associate members."

 

Yet I haven't seen much HAC opposition to SMS and a complete abandonment of regulatory oversight in Canada.

 

I presently work for an operator who is a member of HAC, but is frustrated by the fact that HAC, the voice of the helicopter industry, is not taking action on this. It would seem the big money corporations run the (trade) show, and SMS is not on their radar.

 

How well do you think SMS is going to work for your typical helicopter company, operating out of tent camps in the arctic, or mobilizing across country to fight fires?

 

When the cusr tiries to kill you as you drop them off or pick them up in a tricky confined area, or you hook up to an unwieldy drill in close quarters, how well do you think SMS is going to work when you can't impose it on the customer, - even more ironic when you consider that most major oil companies want you to have a safety program in place?

 

Do you think allowing helicopter (aircraft) operators to govern themselves, in the complete absence of oversight on the part of Transport Canada is going to decrease the accident rate in Canada?

 

I think not!

 

Hopefully the new president of HAC will take interest in and action on this very important topic.

 

Thanks for listening,

tin lizzie

Glad to finally see some opposition to the insanity of letting the operators police themselves. Putting the fox in charge of the henhouse can never be a good policy. Human nature being what it is, shortcuts or out and out cheating is inevitable. We all know there are operators out there who are cheating now! More, not less oversight is required.

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I think that there may be two issues here which may be getting muddled together - both are alarming:

  1. SMS - Safety Management Systems. TC link: http://www.tc.gc.ca/CivilAviation/SMS/menu.htm
  2. SMS - Self Management (System). TC links: http://www.tc.gc.ca/civilaviation/Regserv/...nt-projects.htm

    http://www.tc.gc.ca/CivilAviation/RegServ/...ation1/menu.htm (PowerPoint presentation).

    HAC and HEPAC Self Management proposals (links below).

Both seem to involve TC leaving the scene.

Some of the HAC assumptions, drawn from the Executive Summary verge on the ludicrous:

"the vast majority of helicopter industry customers are sophisticated, industrial contractors who hire helicopter services on an exclusive-use basis and who are, themselves, very demanding in terms of service and safety;"

  • this is a stretch in many cases. Reflecting over the years about the numbers of customers who have encouraged pushing weather and gross weight, I'd say that their demand for service often exceeds their demand for safety, at least until it all unravels. To be fair, I think that things are improving in this regard.

"since competitive imperatives demand that every operator invest equally in safety programs, under industry self-management, pressure from the majority of operators could impose enhanced safety oversight on any operators who’s safety culture is deficient;"

  • what is the basis for this fable? Competition, especially in a stressed market such as we have today, is the main reason non-mandated programs and standards are readily abandoned. IMHO, operator peer pressure mainly sees that rates remain low, not that safety standards are elevated. Economics is a huge incentive to prune non-essentials.

    I thought that it was fairly widely accepted that deregulation of high risk, high cost, competitive tariff, low margin enterprises was not a success. Hoping that peer pressure will increase non-revenue-generating expenses flies in the face of common sense. If this was a realistic model, it should be working now - it wouldn't need Self Management to give it life.

Any commercial group has, understandably, as its main objective, creating profits. How can a regulatory body drawn from the group itself, have a different objective? The concept is inherently daft. Only a distant, unaffected authority can mandate expenses that do not lead to profit.

There is a link between safety and profit but it is too long term and nebulous to be an effective motive.

 

Not sure if I'm entirely on the right track here but maybe someone from TC, HAC or HEPAC can shed more light, Cheers . . . .

HEPAC_ISM_SMS.pdf

HAC_Industry_Self_mgt_Report.pdf

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Good points, CJ. I'd only add the well proven idea that lack of safety is an economic disincentive. In other words, accidents are costly. For some this may be too easy to overlook when trying to make this month's payroll/lease/bank/insurance payments.

 

Dick

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I think that there may be two issues here which may be getting muddled together - both are alarming:

[*]SMS - Safety Management Systems. TC link: http://www.tc.gc.ca/CivilAviation/SMS/menu.htm

[*]SMS - Self Management (System). TC links: http://www.tc.gc.ca/civilaviation/Regserv/...nt-projects.htm

http://www.tc.gc.ca/CivilAviation/RegServ/...ation1/menu.htm

 

If I may interject, Industry "Self Management (System)" and "Safety Mangement Systems" are one and the same. They are not two seperate issues.

 

From Mr. Holbrook's presentation on the www.safeskies.ca website:

 

The original document, or White Paper, that was used to study the issue was entitled “Industry Self-Regulation”. When the announcement came from the Minister in the end of 2005, to announce the implementation of this program, it had now morphed into a title that said that this program was the implementation of Safety Management Systems for the Business Aviation sector. If you want to see what the real methodology is about what’s going on, as my esteemed colleague from the Teamsters mentioned, this is self-regulation. This is the companies taking over for themselves to make their own determinations as to whether they are compliant with safety and or government requirements.
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I’m glad to see the industry is opening it’s eyes to what SMS means to them. I feel we have to stand up and be heard . TC seems to continue trying to distance itself from us for a host of reasons that only makes sense to them. Point in case passing off licensing and auditing.

 

It goes without saying we all want our companies to have brilliant Safety Cultures. From my point of view this won’t be accomplished by implementing SMS. A safety culture is passed on by actions such as working with exceperinced people., a qualified management that understands the job at hand to state a few thoughts. Not by placing an addition burden of more paperwork and running a parallel quality system.

 

SMS may make sense in a large organization like the airlines or in theory being taught at a university but for smaller organizations like the majority of us helicopter companies we still have a passion for our chosen aviation careers.

Note I said careers not jobs.

 

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