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Flight Time Vs. Air Time Personal Logbook

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Like I said ages ago and how everyone that I know in the industry does it and has been fine with TC during there audits with company's that I have worked for across Canada. Air time is time in the air skids up skids down this goes in the JL. Flight time or revenue time,cpr time or personal log book time is engine on engine off. If the blades are turning I'm getting payed for it and the company is getting payed for it. Pretty simple.

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E-mail sent to Transport Canada Regional Director of Civil Aviation, Ontario, Joesph Szwalek, January 8, 2016 (also cc'd: Stephenson, Michael; McCrorie, Aaron; White, David; Holmes, Jennifer; Fred Jones)
Good Day Mr. Szwalek et al,

The purpose of this e-mail is twofold:

1. To ensure you understand my e-mails are not meant to be disrespectful, confrontational or derogatory; nor am I trying to ridicule anyone. I fully understand that issues like this are not any one person’s fault. I am merely trying to have an open, honest discussion with my regulator about known compliance issues that have been identified for many years. I realize that often e-mails can be taken the wrong way, but I am only trying to be as concise direct as possible; unfortunately this one is a little longer than I would have liked, but I can assure you it is my final reply .

I thank you, Mr. Szwalek for taking the time to openly discuss the matter with me. Regardless of who is interpreting the CARs correctly, it seems to me that your e-mail indicates you agree there is an issue here. For the record, we have never said “our way” was right; to the contrary, we feel have always done as directed by TC. When we were advised we were operating in non-compliance, we merely asked for further clarification. We received multiple conflicting interpretations. We are more concerned about what TC is doing about the bigger issue here (than squabbling about interpretations). I hope my 2nd point demonstrates this.

2. to ensure you fully understand our concerns; A statement you made in your recent e-mail (Jan 4/16), leads us to wonder if you fully understand the circumstances that led to this discussion. We feel it does not truly represent what occurred actually occurred.

Mr. Szwalek: in your January 4, 2016 e-mail you state: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”.

While Transport Canada claims that GAPL 2005-02 was cancelled in 2009, in our opinion, this is not completely factual. In accordance with TC’s own Cancellation Notice (that was posted on your website by the Director of Standards):


General Aviation Policy Letter 2005-02, dated 2005-09-07 “Definition of flight time” is cancelled, effective 2011-08-12.

[original signed by]

Jacqueline Booth
A/Director, Standards
Civil Aviation

According to official cancellation notice the cancellation of GAPL became effective in August 12, 2011, 7 months after we received the findings in January 2011.

FYI: This cancellation notice is no longer listed on your website, (nor is GAPL 2005-02 listed on your current list of Cancelled guidance material - which includes APLs), however it was copied and pasted onto the first post in the Vertical Magazine forum (http://forums.verticalmag.com/index.php?s=11dcb4d99bc2ee7a77964437ff126c8d&showtopic=19518&page=1 ).

This post was created by another confused pilot who was also “continuing to use and reference” the document; as were many in the industry. I have absolutely no idea who this pilot is, but it didn’t take her long to catch the cancellation notice and start asking questions. She posted August 25, 2011, 17 days after the Cancellation Notice came into effect.

This demonstrates that this confusion was not confined to my organization and solidifies our argument that the root cause of the findings originated from within Transport Canada, (and therefore findings were not valid). The additional 43 pages of comments from industry stakeholders, on the same forum, is also quite indicative that the confusion continues to exist (perhaps more than ever). Asking operators to create corrective action plans against such findings does absolutely nothing to prevent recurrence. This Corrective Action Plan belongs to TC. We stated this in the CAPs we submitted in 2011 and provided a thorough root cause analysis to demonstrate this. We also provided significant supporting documentation.

While TC states the GAPL was actually cancelled in 2009, we have seen no evidence of this. It seems perhaps you “meant to cancel it”, but I must say, the timing once again is suspicious. If that was indeed the case, then not only was it not removed from your website, but it also was not added to the “List of Cancelled General Aviation Policy Letters” at the time. In actuality, no one in aviation or the helicopter industry was ever advised that the letter was cancelled in 2009. Once the GAPL was officially cancelled in 2011, absolutely no guidance or explanation was given helicopter pilots and the industry. It is quite disconcerting that TC identified this compliance issue in 2005, committed to amend the CARs and yet in 2011 TC felt there was no need to clarify or advise when they cancelled the letter (with no CARs amendment having taken place). TC just assumed the issue would fix itself and operators wouldn’t need guidance in 2011. This, after telling them to operate otherwise for 6 years (while GAPL 2005-02 was in effect).

I’m sure you are well aware that many continue to “use and reference” this policy letter today. Please see attached e-mail from XXXXXX XXXX at XXXXXXXXX Helicopters/XXXXXXXX college (received Nov 3/15). Mr. XXXX was kind enough to take part in the “compliance exercise” that I distributed and responded to my 2 multiple choice questions. So far TC chooses not to respond to this e-mail.

This is not an attempt to single out XXXXXXXXXX helicopters. In actuality, 90%+ of respondents to the 2 multiple choice questions (distributed Nationwide), indicated that they are using ICAO interpretation to log Flight Time. My point here is that, XXXXXXXXX l is not only a commercial operator, but the operator of the most well-known Flight Training Units in the province/country. The XXXXXXXX College training program has always been considered one of the best; I believe previous operators of the FTU operated in the same fashion when it comes to logging Flight Time. They did when I was their student in 1996. If they are operating as per ICAO and Intent of CARs is to receive 100 hrs Air Time for a commercial licence; that likely isn’t happening. Student pilots coming into the industry are also likely being trained to log there time in non-compliance with CARs.

So, while you state regulating by policy is unenforceable, I would say the current situation, is one of “Officially Induced Error” which is a justifiable defense for any pilot/operator; there may also be a defence of “Due Diligence” to some extent. Doesn’t this also mean that any interpretation of “Flight Time” could be considered “Unenforceable”? To me, it seems this would allow operators/pilots to violate a variety of regulations at will.

I’m sure you are familiar with the defence of “Officially Induced Error”, but here’s an explanatory link to TP13794 (Chapter 9):


“Officially Induced Error” sure sounds like an accurate representation of what’s going on here.

Let me elaborate by discussing what we feel really happened with our organization (along with a timeline):

January 2011, Findings were made against (our organization) with regards to Flight Time recording practices on flight Training forms

Mar 23/11, as requested by TC, we provided a thorough root cause analysis and CAP containing corrective actions and explaining that we had identified a larger issue; This CAP was declined

April 2011, we did our duty as a proactive organization and filed a report through your Integrated Management System/CAIRS. According to the proactive reporting culture that was being promoted by this system, this should have been seen as a positive by your organization, but instead we got the run around from many TC personnel for months/years. It continues today actually

May 11, 2011 we submitted a 2nd CAP and root cause analysis which was very similar to the first; but we added additional unnecessary Corrective Actions that were not made against the true root cause. That included bringing 4 pilots back to base to give them an additional 0.1 hrs air time of Flight Training. This is a very costly Corrective Action that did nothing to improve safety or compliance. The CAP was accepted and the PVI closed.

July 7, 2011, Jamie Bionda, Civil Aviation Inspector(POI), Robert Freeman, Alex Roberts Headquarters: “We have been in contact with Rob Freeman's office in Ottawa to ask about the issue of Air Time and Flight Time being logged as the same in skid equipped helicopters as per the instruction in 4.18(2) of your COM. Mr. Freemans office has replied to us that these times should be entered as the same….. Bill did indeed ask me to contact Mr. Freeman's office and ask the question regarding the JLB entries for flight time and air time again. Mr. Freeman referred us to Alex Roberts from his office. Mr. Roberts response was that he was in agreement with Mr. Freeman,

August 2011 I followed up with the CAIRS co-ordinator because I hadn’t received any form of response (and we were past the due date for CAIRS response).

August 12, 2011, the Cancellation Notice for GAPL 2005-02 (above) was posted on TC’s Website.

• On August 16/ 2011 the president of the HAC forwarded me this e-mail:

Good morning Fred,

Errors in processing occurred when GAPL 2005-2 was cancelled in 2009. The document was not properly removed from the web and not included in the cancelled GAPL list. These errors lead to the circulation of erroneous information about the Policy Letter validity. The links below illustrate the corrections.

GAPL 2005-2 is no longer valid, our apologies for the confusion.

GAPL 2005-02

(Menu page)

The meaning of “flight time” within Subsection 101.01 (1) of the CARs remains intact but may be subject to a review in the future.

Alex Roberts
(613) 990-1090 Telephone / Télélephone

• On September 20, 2011 I received an official response to the CAIRS from the Director of Standards. Jacqueline Booth who was kind enough to respond directly to 6 of my concerns.

Here is the response Ms. Booth gave with regards to GAPL-02 (the text in quotations is an exert from my concern in the CAIRS report; Ms. Booth responses follow):

Concern #2

“…as is clearly stated in GAPL 2005-2 (see CAIRS submission); this policy letter is no longer listed in the current GAPL list, however it is not listed in the cancelled GAPL’s either. It is still listed on Transport Canada’s website and as far as I am aware the aviation community was never informed that the Policy Letter was no longer in effect. The Policy letter states its validity will expire when the appropriate amendment to the CARS has occurred…”

GAPL 2005-2 is no longer valid. When GAPL 2005-02 was cancelled in 2009 the document was not properly removed from the website and not included in the cancelled GAPL list. These errors lead to confusion surrounding the Policy Letter... This error has now been corrected. The links below illustrate the corrections.

GAPL 2005-02

(Menu page)

The meaning of “flight time” within Subsection 101.01 (1) of the CARs remains intact but may be subject to a future review.

Ms. Booth also responded to my concerns of how “Flight Time” should be interpreted/calculated under 700.15:

Concern #4

“…One of our biggest concerns, is how this is to be interpreted by pilots with respect to logging Flight time with respect to Flight Duty Time regulations and monitoring pilot fatigue. If TC’s interpretation is accurate, we understand this to mean that the pilot is only required to log the time in which his skids are not in contact with the Earth’s surface in his flight duty time records. We have asked several TC inspectors and Supervisors a simple question, yet receive no clear response.
Here is a recent scenario that was presented to several inspectors and supervisors yet we have not received clarification: A pilot makes 50 take-off and landings(on creek beds) over a period of 10 hours with engines running and blades turning at 100% ; the pilot is in contact with the earth’s surface (creek bed) for 4 .0 hours with engine at full throttle and wings/blades moving)while his customers take sediment samples. Is he only required to log 6 hours flight time in his flight duty times....????...”

The appropriate “air time”, “flight time” and “flight duty time” for Canadian operations should be logged in accordance with CAR 101 definitions.

The reality is that helicopter flights do not end when the helicopter touches a surface, but rather “…the moment it comes to rest at the end of the flight….” as per the meaning within Subsection 101.01 (1) of the CARs. Within your scenario, “flight time” might continue while the helicopter is in contact with the surface but still under control by the pilot in command. If the intent is to not terminate the flight at this time and where there is no intent to shut down the helicopter, then the flight time should continue to be logged.

• After receiving the above clarification, we immediately commenced an amendment to our COM to ensure compliance. This COM submission met significant resistance.

December 2012, my POI at the time (Jamie Bionda) advised me and the Chief Pilot in person (in my office) that TC would approve my amendment to remove the statement “Flight Time is the same as Air Time…” and replace it with the highlighted text above (from Jacqueline Booth). Jamie was also accompanied by inspector Ken Walsh. At that time we had a lengthy discussion and Mr. Walsh reiterated that the correct method for calculating Flight Time was as indicated by Ms. Booth and was the CARS minimum regulatory requirement . We all agreed that Flight Time did not always equal air time (under this interpretation). This procedure is not identical to the one cited in GAPL 2005-02, but does require that many flights ( flights with multiple landings) have a different Flight Time than Air Time.

January 2012, the COM amendment was finally approved by the Minister (and remains approved).

January 26, 2012, Chief of Standards, Arlo Speer: Ms. Booth is the “accountable manager” for the Civil Aviation Issues Reporting System (CAIRS) file number IB-8718. Her September 20, 2011 response to CAIRS 8718 is the official response from the “accountable manager”.

January 4, 2013, Associate Regional Director, Yves Lemieux advised that “I can assure you that the amendment to your COM based on the information provided by Ms. Booth and approved by your POI is valid…. I can also assure you that the general concept that “air time is the same as flight time” for skids equipped helicopter is out”

January 21, 2013, Yves Lemieux (J. Szwalek was cc’d): “I agree with you that the reference to the content of your COM at the time of the PVI is NOT consistent with the interpretation provided by Arlo Speer (and Ms. Booth) I fully agree with the clarification provided by the Director of Standards in her email of September 20, 2011. Your COM Article 4.18 currently reflects this interpretation”.

January 24/13, Yves Lemieux (J. Szwalek was cc’d): “I appreciate very much the discussion we had January 17th, 2013. I believe this initiative has set us on the road for a solution to a nationwide issue within the helicopter world regarding the logging of Flight Time versus Air Time.

We agreed that the definitions in the CARs for Air Time and Flight Time are accurate and workable.

In accordance with the interpretation provided by the Director of Standards, we agreed that for flights where a helicopter carries out a number of landings and take-offs during the conduct of operations, the air time “recording/logging” stops while the helicopter is resting on the ground. However, the flight time “recording/logging” shall continue with the pilot at the control while the helicopter is resting on the ground. Air and Flight times recording/logging stop with the last landing and shutdown “at the end of the flight”. In such cases, air time will obviously be shorter than flight time.

We agreed that the statement “Flight time and Air time are the same for skid equipped helicopter, accordingly the recorded time shall be the same.” included in the generic COM provided by TC to helicopter operators in the late 90s is responsible for the confusion and inconsistencies among helicopter pilots and operators and Transport Canada Inspectors. We agreed that this statement must be removed from every helicopter operators’ COM. As a result of our discussion, I committed to lead an initiative to clear for the industry and TC inspectors the confusion that currently exist with regards to the logging of air time and flight time for helicopters. I will consult with Directors in the other Regions and HQ to determine how this can best be accomplished.

January 2016, 3 years later, you are advising me otherwise. (After, first indicating over the phone that our Company Operations Manual did not require changes with regards to logging “Flight Time”)

I stand firm in my belief that these 2011 findings are not valid and should be removed (regardless of what the correct interpretation is). Of course we are confused; who wouldn’t be? Furthermore, Transport Canada, should undertake a Root Cause Analysis and implement Short Term and Long term corrective actions. Part of the short term CAP should be to remove these invalid findings. Given the above facts, I don’t think anyone can justifiably argue that the root cause lies within our organization. Long term corrective actions should include advising the entire industry of how TC actually expects pilots to log flight time in skid equipped helicopters.

In case, my timeline and the Vertical Forum is not convincing enough for you, here’s a couple more industry sources that were sent to Yves Lemieux in January 2013 to demonstrate the industry wide confusion (and that many continue to reference GAPL after you claim it was cancelled) . “Ask 5 pilots, you’ll get 6 different answers”


I can assure, you this is my final response to your e-mail. I hope Transport Canada is able to recognize this ongoing issue has widespread implications, and they will deal with it like a responsible regulator. I have also cc’d our lawyer; I am recommending that we seek legal counsel on this matter before deciding how to proceed. I’ve also attached the initial response letter from Mr. Szwalek and the SOP and CON referenced in my previous e-mail.

As one last final thought: we were recently advised at a Transport Canada Inspection, that it is TC’s responsibility to verify minimum regulatory requirements are met. The 4 inspectors who visited our facility were clearly directed to the fact that we did not log Flight Time and Air time as the same in the Journey logbook (or anywhere for that matter). They also specifically reviewed Journey logbooks (and several other Flight Time logs and training records) that showed significant differences between the two figures. How can it be that no findings were made against this fact, if the purpose of their visit was to verify minimum regulatory requirements are met?

Thank You for your time

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  • 4 months later...



CBAACNo. 0202R states:


2. For the purposes of the Canada Labour Code, Part II, an aircraft is in operation from the time it first moves under its own power, for the purpose of taking off from a Canadian or foreign place of departure, until it comes to rest at the end of its flight to its first destination in Canada. [subsection 128(5)]


The Transport Canada Aviation Occupational Health and Safety program position in this regard is that "aircraft in ground, or in the air. Therefore, an aircraft is considered to be "in operation" anytime it is flying in Canada or abroad, as well as anytime the aircraft doors are closed and the aircraft is moving on the ground, under its own power, for the purposes of taking-off or landing. An aircraft is not considered to be "in operation" when it is stationary on the ground, in Canada or abroad, either before, after, or between flights.


Sound familiar? Its the exact same terminology used in the Flight Time definition.


CARS 101

AIR TIME: with respect to keeping technical records is defined as, the time from the moment the aircraft leaves the earths surface until it comes into contact with the surface at the next point of landing


FLIGHT TIME: means 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.


For the interpretation being offered (Flight Time = Air Time) to work, it must be a fact that a Skid equipped helicopter cannot move under its own power until it Leaves the earths surface; but it must also be true that Comes into contact with the earths surface at the next point of landing means the same as comes to rest at the end of the Flight.


Therefore, under that very same thinking: whenever a pilot (in a skid equipped helicopter) lands throughout the flight, employees on board

the aircraft are not covered under Aviation Occupational Health and Safety.


Also worth noting that a Pilot in Command is not actually a Pilot in Command during that period on the ground and therefore would not be responsible for many of the responsibilities assigned to PIC (during that time on the ground)..


Definition of PIC from Aeronautics Act:

pilot-in-command means, in relation to an aircraft, the pilot having responsibility and authority for the operation and safety of the aircraft during flight time;

E-mail to TC Aviation Occupational Heslth and Safety inspectors Lisa Witton and Janice Berling May 20, 2016:


Hi Janice and Lisa,


The purpose of this email is to confirm the applicability of the following CBAAC to skid equipped helicopter operations.





CBAACNo. 0202R states:


2. For the purposes of the Canada Labour Code, Part II, an aircraft is in operation from the time it first moves under its own power, for the purpose of taking off from a Canadian or foreign place of departure, until it comes to rest at the end of its flight to its first destination in Canada. [subsection 128(5)]


The Transport Canada Aviation Occupational Health and Safety program position in this regard is that "aircraft in ground, or in the air. Therefore, an aircraft is considered to be "in operation" anytime it is flying in Canada or abroad, as well as anytime the aircraft doors are closed and the aircraft is moving on the ground, under its own power, for the purposes of taking-off or landing. An aircraft is not considered to be "in operation" when it is stationary on the ground, in Canada or abroad, either before, after, or between flights.


So since a skid equipped helicopter cannot "taxi" without becoming airborne, just about any time it is in contact with the earths surface it is not considered to be in "Operation" in accordance with the Transport Canada Aviation Occupational Health and Safety program position. Is this correct?



It would also be true that all matters of health and safety, on board a running helicopter, while in contact with the earths surface (and stationary) would fall under the jurisdiction of Labour Canada (and not Transport Canada AOHS). correct?



This would be true regardless of the aircraft RPM, the type of surface, location etc.



So if a skid equipped helicopter lands and takes off 10 times (in unprepared bush landing areas) in 1 hour, with 1 start and shut down, and remains at full throttle with M/R turning at 100% : during the time spent in contact with earth's surface the helicopter is not considered to be "in operation" and therefore not the jurisdiction of TC AOHS. correct?


Thank you,


Reply received May 31/16:


Acknowledge receipt. We have a made a request for an interpretation on a couple of things with ESDC Labour Program with regard to language in our MOU. I will get back you.






Lisa Witton

A/Technical Team Lead - Specialties

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These guys have their heads up their *****. When are they going to have the flight school change their billing practices then? Why are students logging differently than the rest of us? Wake up TC. I'm logging when I'm working. If being in charge of an AC with blades turning was not considered work or didn't require a skill set then engineers could do ground runs...

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I know engineers can do ground runs. I have never seen one done in the rotary world. Those policies and procedures are for the reason I stated - pilot skill. Hot starts are less likely if you have a qualified pilot behind the controls. Why would an under paid engineer want to take that kind of responsibility?


My opinion stands. When the airfoil moves under the power supplied by the engine I'm logging time, just like the fixed wing pilots do when their airfoil starts to move...

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Hot starts are a risk, but so are a multitude of other scenarios. As rotor states, the air foils are moving, therefor they are generating lift. When blades are spinning at 100% a helicopter is in the same situation as a fixed wing aircraft barreling down the runway moments before rotation.


There are also significant torque reactions occurring. Inappropriate flight control movements could result in a variety of dangers. Other factors such as icy, sloping or uneven surfaces, high winds etc. can increase the risk. We've all heard of accidents that occur while sitting on the ground. Anyone have any reports or incidents they'd like to share?


IMHO, many of these accidents are related to "Aviation Safety", and should be investigated by the Aviation Authorities, not the board of Labour.


How about ground resonance?


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According to the report, Witnesses reported that the pilot landed and was planning on exiting the helicopter to perform a fluid level check. After landing, the pilot exited the running helicopter; shortly thereafter the helicopter became airborne without the pilot at the flight controls. The aircraft subsequently impacted the ground and rolled over, and the pilot was struck by one or more of the main rotor blades, the report states.

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