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Flight Time Vs. Air Time Personal Logbook

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During the developpement of CARs, 93-96, I tried to convince TC to "eliminate approvals wherever possible ... If you approve it you own it = operators no longer responsible for conformity with CARs ... Make objective standards, make the operator responsible for compliance ... Serious Operators will no longer have to wait forever for approvals ... slipshod operators will quickly fall in line, if you fine the **** out of them everytime you find a non compliance... TC will no longer have to prove everything right before the fact because operators will fear TC finds something/anything wrong, after the fact ... TC will save a fortune in labour costs, that could be spent on more productive and more professionally interestin oversight ". Such a system would be safer, cheaper and more efficient for everyone.


They would have non of it; until early 1996 when I convinced the ADM by also explained that The "approval process was contrary to the SMS base regulatory system demanded of TC, in 1992, by Treasury Board (Yes, SMS was supposed to be adopted for the regulatory oversight system, not imposed on everyone but TC). He bought in and in the early 1996 draft of CARs there was no approval of the COM. The ADM retired in April 1996 and the next week a new draft of CAR put TC back in the business of approving COM s and many other documents.


And here we are 20 years later, TC inspectors still afraid to approve for fear of making a mistake, demanding one size fits all approval guidance, operators still waiting endlessly for approvals, in an objective based regulatory system that is supposed to improve efficiency and safety through inovation.

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While all of that may be true, in this case they weren't "afraid" to approve the content of the amendment (which they agreed was compliant). Refusing to approve an amendment without providing any grounds seems to be a violation of aeronautics act and CARs. They blatantly stated the refusal of approval was because they wanted the operator to amend an entirely different section which had already been approved. No changes to our aerial Apllication training were submitted in the amendment. Is that proper protocol?


As you imply, it has a significant effect on safety and efficiency. As just one example: The amendment included new "fuelling procedures" that were compliant and submitted to improve safety. Our SMS had identified a weakness/non-compliance in our COM fuelling procedures. The refusal to approve delayed the implementation of these procedures by months.

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So, given their new interpretation of "flight time" what should happen is that TC may give notice that tour COM definition of flight time" must be ammended to comply with CARs, as TC now sees them. In that case you can initiate Tribunal appeal based on the fact that the COM approval is an Aviation Document (as defined by the Act and confirmed by the Tribunal and the Federal Court, previously).


Can you provide more detail about the Federal Courts confirmation? I am familiar with at least 1 tribunal decision that seemed to confirm that the COM was indeed a "Canadian Aviation Document". You were involved, so I assume this is the one you are referring to. I provided my POI the link to the Tribunal decision after he told me the COM wasn't an Aviation Document...



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Freewheel, the Federal Court confirmation is cited at length at the end of the decision you refer to. As for the COM being an Aviation Document, the decision can't be much clearer.


It's been a while and I was not given the time to push forward based on the Decision, so I had forgotten that simply refusing, directly or indirectly, is grounds for a Tribunal Appeal ( indirecly = ie excessive delay - TC has a Policy Letter setting the maximum time they can take to deliver any service, making unrelated demands (blackmailling) = indirectly.

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I assume you are referring to Policy Letter 143 which was cancelled 2010-04-01 and replaced with:


1.CAD QUA-009, Issue 01, Civil Aviation Service Standards Framework, dated 2010-04-01.

2.SI QUA-010, Issue 01, Service Standards Improvement Process, dated 2010-04-01.

3.TCCA Service Standards Activities (with and without charges),TP 14984E, dated 2010-04-01.




In 2013, while dealing with an entirely different cabin safety issue, our Transport Canada Technical Team Lead advised by e-mail:


“There are no expectations for approval of an amendment in the service standards.”

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Interesting terminology. I can't find it anywhere in the Public Sector Values and Ethics code; .but then again maybe they "interpret" the code differently than I lol.


It certainly seems to be contrary to the "Expected Behaviours" section. Actually reading the entire code, I find myself laughing.




This part seems pretty clear.


"Acceptance of these values and adherence to the expected behaviours is a condition of employment for every public servant in the federal public sector, regardless of their level or position. A breach of these values or behaviours may result in disciplinary measures being taken, up to and including termination of employment."

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Excerpt from Letter Received from Joseph Szwalek (Regional Director, Transport Canada, Civil Aviation)Nov 9/15


Subject: Flight Time vs. Air Time and Cabin Safety



As per my commitment to provide you an official interpretation of air time vs. flight time as applicable to skid equipped helicopters, please note the following.


As per CAR 101.01, air time commences when the aircraft lifts from the surface and continues to the point of landing. Flight time occurs when the aircraft first moves under its own power for the purpose of take off and continues until it comes to rest at the end of the flight. For commercial operations, air operators must record both air time and flight time in the Aircraft Journey Log. As you know, skid-equipped helicopters don't normally ' ground taxi', and all movement/manoeuvring is done while in flight because landing and coming to rest at the end of the flight are the same action. Manoeuvring at an aerodrome at low speed and low altitude is referred to as "air taxi", but in any event, the aircraft is still flying (taxi time on the ground is non-existent).


In some circumstances, a helicopter pilot may be required to touchdown on a surface that will not fully support the helicopter's weight, or may exceed pitch or roll limits (i.e. deep snow, swamp, rough/uneven terrain). Landings on these surfaces are generally done to allow crew members to embark/disembark or to unload relevant equipment (i.e. firefighting equipment). In these cases, the pilot is maintaining position by use of engine power (rotor maintained at flight rpm and positive flight control placement including collective and pedal inputs), thus the helicopter is essentially still flying while in contact with the ground. Since, as previously mentioned, the definition of 'flight time' is the time from the moment an aircraft takes off until the moment it comes to rest at the end of the flight, Transport Canada's conclusion is that holding a helicopter in a position where the pilot must rely on the aircraft controls and engine power to maintain position and control doesn't meet the definition of coming to rest at the end of the flight. The time spent in these types of operations (holding the aircraft in place by using the controls) qualifies and will count as flight time. Accordingly the operator is justified in claiming this as flight time in the Journey Log Book. Since flight time equals air time, this also addresses the requirement to log component time for the technical records as air time.


In summary, given that the CARs definitions of flight time and air time are the same in the context of skid-equipped helicopter operations, Transport Canada' s official interpretation is that flight time equals air time for purposes of Journey Log entries.


You may consider this interpretation Transport Canada' s final position on the matter. Please note that this interpretation has been disseminated within Transport Canada nationally and has been added to the National Aviation Safety Information System (NASIMS). I trust that this will resolve your previous requests for information on this subject. I encourage you to work with the Helicopter Association of Canada (HAC) if you have concerns about the applicability of this interpretation on your operations.

Good Afternoon Mr. Szwalek,


As you are aware, our AE has requested that I respond formally to your letter (so there is a formal response on file). I have reviewed your letter and your comments on the phone dont seem consistent with your Official Interpretation in the letter. You clearly stated over the phone that in many cases Flight Time and Air Time might not be the same (yet your letter states otherwise).


Before I respond to your letter, I require clarification. While you state that your letter was Transport Canadas final position on this matter and you encourage us to work with HAC to determine applicability to our operations, we cannot begin to do this without further response from TC. Given Mr. Stephensons belief that it is imperative that the answers given are consistent and help to eliminate any confusion, I respectfully request you respond to the questions below. I believe in at least one case, you made false statements about compliance requirements under the CARs in your Official Interpretation.


In your Nov 9/15 Letter you state:


For commercial operations, air operators must record both air time and flight time in the Aircraft Journey Log.


I dont believe there is any CARs requirement to record Flight Time in the aircraft Journey Log.


1. Could you please provide the CARs reference for the above statement?


In your October 9/15 e-mail you committed to providing regulations based answers that will clear up past confusion; I think we require clarity on the above statement. I am wondering if perhaps this misconception could somehow be relevant to the confusion. I do notice that you repeatedly refer specifically to entries in the Journey Log Book (and dont refer to any other CARs requirements that reference Flight Time).


The e-mail that Mr. Stephenson and Mr. McCrorie committed to provide a response to did not mention entries in the Journey Logbook once.


You also state in your Letter:


given that the CARs definitions of flight time and air time are the same in the context of skid-equipped helicopter operations, Transport Canada' s official interpretation is that flight time equals air time for purposes of Journey Log entries.


Again, you re-iterate for the Purposes of Journey Log entries, yet there is no such requirement.


Our company chooses to maintain a Flight Time column in the JLB. This is our choice; we see value in having this record in the JLB for many reasons. We use it to justify billing to clients, pilots experience, training requirements, licencing requirements etc. Flight Time has no bearing on airworthiness of the aircraft but is used in many operational CARs.


Flight Time:

· is a term used in many cases to set minimums for licencing and training requirements Part 4 of CARs and associated Standards

· is a time pilots must log in their Personal Logs as per CARs 401.08

· is a term used to set Maximum limits in Flight Time Limits of CARs 700.15 (ie. 60 hrs/week etc) and Maximum Duty Limits in 700.16 (ie. 8 hrs max Flight Time when duty day exceeds 14 hours)

· Flight Time is also the term used for the Minimums requirements in Our Approved Recurrent Training program in the COM.


The CARs definition for flight time is the same regardless of where it is record it. It cant mean one thing in the JLB and mean something else in my 700.15 required flight records (flight Time/Duty Time) and yet another for licencing and training requirements and/or personal logs.


2. Flight Time only has one CARs definition and one meaning under the CARs. Do you agree?


3. so according to your letter, for instance, a student pilot requires 100 hours air time to meet the commercial helicopter pilot requirements under CARs. Correct?


4. Air Time should be used by pilots when logging Flight Time in personal logs required in 401.08. Correct?


5. Air Time should be used by pilots when in their flight and duty time records as required by CARS 700.15 and 700.16


6. Air Time should be used when conducting commercial training flights and the COM Minimum requirements are expressed in Flight Time


7. To ensure clarity, I created two multiple choice questions. While I appreciate the interpretation, could you please respond to the two multiple choice questions as was originally requested in the e-mail (sent to you Oct 21/15) I have copied both questions Q1 and Q2 at the very bottom of this e-mail for your reference. This is the e-mail that Mr. Stephenson committed to provide a consistent response to.

· FYI both the helipads in this example are capable of fully supporting the aircraft.


8. Under the Flight Time limits in CARS 700.15, this means the pilot conducting passenger transportation in the example in Q1. could remain at the controls with Rotors Turning for more than 120 hours in 1 week and 300 hours in any 30 day period month under CARs 700.15 limits. Correct?


FYI, the Flight Time figure is not the same as the air time figure for many of our Journey Log entries/flights; this has been the same case for 16 years of being audited/inspected by TC. It is however, in accordance with the procedures in our Company Operations Manual (as approved in 2012) which you have indicated does not require changes.


9. The only reasonable explanation I can come up with is that in approving our COM, the Minister exercised her authority to waive CARs, in favour of less stringent rules (or more stringent depending on how you look at it). Is this the case?




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  • 1 month later...

Apparently TC has no interest in responding directly to basic compliance questions.


E-mail Received January 4, 2016:


Good Afternoon and Happy New Year,


I have once again requested and received input from Headquarters on the matter of air time vs. flight time for skid equipped helicopters and the direction given in my previous correspondence to you remains the same.


Transport Canadas current position is as follows.


There are often restrictions that apply when regulations are interpreted or definitions are made for a standard application of the regulations. Interpretations are required when the wording of a regulation or definition could be ambiguous or confusing. These situations often arise when technology changes or new types of operations evolve that were not anticipated when the definition or regulation was initially/originally drafted. Transport Canada cannot incorporate additional requirements into the regulations that were not intended by the original drafters. The Department of Justice has advised that we cannot regulate through policy. The original intent of the definition must be clearly understood and applied in the same context. Any deviation from the original intent may be challenged, and is then deemed to be policy or guidance material rather than having the full force of the regulation, and is therefore unenforceable. The alternative is to issue an exemption and/or change the definition in the regulation if an interpretation remains problematic. An ongoing issue with policy and guidance material is that regional inconsistencies may result, which could understandably lead to frustration for air operators across Canada.


The GAPL that you continued to use and reference in your e-mails after it was cancelled falls into the realm of adding or changing the limitations of a definition without regulatory approval.


Another problem with the ICAO definition mentioned is the additional element contained in the phrase: Flight Time: The total time from the moment a helicopters rotor blades start turning... This statement is at odds with the Canadian definition that applies to all aircraft and commences when the aircraft begins to move under its own power. Because Canada already has an official definition for flight time, we are not permitted to use another definition (in this case, ICAOs) without it first being incorporated into the CARs.


Analysis and Interpretation of the existing definition for flight time: CAR 101.01(1) defines flight time as meaning the time from the moment an aircraft first moves under its own power for the purpose of taking off until the moment it comes to rest at the end of the flight.


The elements here that need to be considered as limiting include aircraft , initial movement under its own power for the purposes of takeoff and landing with no intention of continued flight for this flight segment.


The intention of the drafters was :

1. This definition will apply to both aeroplanes and helicopters.

2. Flight time begins and ends when the aircraft starts to move on its own for the purpose of flying and then stops at the end of the flight.

3. However, the use of the term coming to rest in the definition also implies more than a simple landing or stopping of aircraft movement. The intention of the drafters using coming to rest in this context is that pilot flight control functions and aircraft manoeuvring associated with this flight has ceased.


When the definition of flight time was originally drafted, it was common industry practice that on a skid-equipped helicopter, flight time equalled air time. Skid-equipped helicopters obviously set flight rpm to commence any movement, as all manoeuvring begins with vertical flight to hover. In accordance with the interpretation provided, flight time would always equal air time unless the helicopter was landing on a surface that did not permit the pilot to release the controls and roll back the throttle(s) to idle. The start up times and shut down/cool down times would not be logged.


Over the next several years the Canadian Aviation Regulations will be reviewed to identify those areas that need to be rewritten or updated. As such, Transport Canada will include the definition for flight time for skid-equipped helicopters for consideration. You may wish to take the opportunity to work with your association to ensure your concerns are adequately captured and presented as appropriate.


As per your comments about CAR 602.86 and as per my most recent letter, I continue to encourage you to use whatever storage space is available in the aircraft and for the pilot to use his or her discretion as necessary to ensure the safe operation of the aircraft.





Joseph M. Szwalek

Regional Director Civil Aviation

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