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The Aviation Safety Letter (ASL) is published quarterly by Transport Canada, Civil Aviation. The ASL includes articles that address aviation safety from all perspectives, such as safety insight derived from accidents and incidents, information tailored to the needs of maintenance and servicing personnel.

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2015 David Charles Abramson Memorial (DCAM) Flight Instructor Safety Award

  • Announcing Catherine Lynn Press of Chinoook Helicopters, BC as the 13th recipient of the annual DCAM Flight Instructor Safety Award.
  • Catherine holds both fixed wing and helicopter licenses, was the first woman in Canada to hold a helicopter instructor rating and is the only Canadian helicopter pilot to hold a Chinese licence.
  • The annual DCAM Award promotes flight safety by recognizing exceptional flight instructors in Canada and has brought recognition and awareness to the flight instructor community.

Increases in Large Bird Populations and High Aircraft Speeds Could Result in Damaging Impacts

  • Transport Canada (TC) has been collecting data on wildlife strikes for many years through their Bird Strike Information System (BSIS).
  • In Canada, 577 wildlife strikes were reported from 2005 to 2014.
  • It has been understood for many years now that strikes involving larger birds are most likely to result in aircraft damage despite small birds being struck more often.
  • In order to obtain this kind of information, all personnel involved - including pilots, maintenance personnel and airlines - should report wildlife strike details. (For help identifying species, consult with the Bird Strike Association of Canada.)
  • Analysis of BSIS data demonstrated that nearly half (46%) of damaging bird strikes involved gulls or geese.
  • This can prove challenging for airports as populations of Canada Geese have increased substantially in recent years.
  • As a resident Canada goose often weighs over 6 kilograms (10 lbs), more than one in four Canada geese strikes cause damage to the aircraft struck.
  • Other birds that should be considered to be problematic include are ducks (particularly mallards), as well as raptors such as hawks, eagles, and owls.
  • As velocity increases, the impact force between two objects increases exponentially.
  • To reduce the impact force should an aircraft collide with a wildlife species, TC has regulated that aircraft speed should be kept below 250 kt below 10 000 ft AGL.
  • Even so, a 12-lb Canada goose struck by an airplane flying 50-mph at liftoff generates the kinetic energy of a 1 000-lb weight dropped from a height of 10 ft.
  • With the population of Canada geese, snow geese, snowy owls and other large bird species on the rise, the department is requesting wildlife strike reports from airports, and we encourage everyone to report wildlife strikes and near misses via the BSIS portal at http://wwwapps.tc.gc.ca/Saf-Sec-Sur/2/bsis/ (Note: Airport managers should also inform TC if no wildlife strikes have occurred within the past year.)

ASL 2-2016 also includes charts & tables comparing the size & impact damage of various species.

Watch for Mixed Instrumentation in Gliders

  • Beware of Gliders with different instrumentation in the front & rear seats.
  • Altimeters & airspeed indicators might measure in Feet in one seat, but in Metres in the other.
  • After a fatal glider accident in 2004 - which may have involved mismatched altimeters - the Coroner advised pilots to be aware of the possible dangers.
  • A pilot who normally flies with a traditional altimeter in feet, but is suddenly made to fly with an altimeter in meters, could misinterpret - in a busy moment - his or her altitude leading to potentially fatal results.

Civil Aviation Issues Reporting System (CAIRS)

  • Notice that the Civil Aviation Issues Reporting System (CAIRS) database has been decommissioned as of March 31, 2016.
  • In its place, the aviation community and the public will report issues or concerns through the Civil Aviation Communications Centre.
  • Please contact them by the methods outlined: Requests to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by Facsimile 613-957-4208 Questions to: 1-800-305-2059
  • NOTE: In an effort to maintain confidentiality, steps have been taken by the communication centre to handle confidential enquiries, but incoming submission must be clearly marked as confidential in the title and body of the submission.

Risk Assessment in General Aviation

  • Examples of flights that may have proceeded without an adequate risk assessment.
  • Pilots assess risk everyday using metrics such as weather forecasts, runway conditions and deferred aircraft defects - but what constitutes acceptable risk?
  • Pilots generally do not accept unnecessary risk. Other times, the risk is so small that it is obviously worth commencing the flight. Most of the time, the risk falls somewhere in between.
  • But, regrettably, there is often no formal process by which the risk associated with GA and training flights is assessed.
  • Pilots assess risk with every flight; but as a group, aviators keep getting caught in situations where multiple risk factors add up to an accident or incident. And in all accidents, there are many links in The Accident Chain. But how can we identify and address these risks before it's too late?
  • A tool already in use by many charter and corporate operators is called the flight risk assessment tool (FRAT) and it is easy to implement and use.
  • FRAT is a system that quantifies risk.
  • To use FRAT, a checklist of possible threats is consulted and a score is assigned to each threat that you are likely to encounter during your flight.
  • Greater threats have a higher score. As the score climbs, FRAT alerts the pilot to look closely at the risk involved.
  • Some online flight planning Web sites, such as www.fltplan.com, even allow you to develop your own customizable FRAT assessment on their site.
  • A two minute quantitative measurement before your flight can help indicate if the risk level is getting too high and provide an opportunity to mitigate or reject the risk before it is too late.

Gliders: Advancements in Collision Avoidance Technology


  • Following two fatal mid-air collisions involving Gliders, the TSB concluded that "if the see-and-avoid principle is relied upon as the sole means of collision avoidance when operating in visual flight rules [VFR] conditions, then there is a continued risk of collision."
  • Accordingly, it is important to re-emphasize the value of collision avoidance systems such as PowerFLARM® and of its technological advancements and additional capabilities over the basic FLARM®.
  • The base functionality of a FLARM® consists of a global positioning system (GPS) receiver that is constantly calculating and transmitting both its current position and its projected positions. If a collision risk is projected, both FLARM-equipped pilots are notified.
  • The greatest collision risk for a glider is from another glider, primarily when climbing in a thermal with many other gliders. As a result, many Canadian gliders are already equipped with FLARM®, However, the risk of collision with powered aircraft remains a concern.


  • PowerFLARM® devices are the next technological leap for pilots, receiving collision avoidance information not only from other FLARM® equipped aircraft but also from transponder-equipped aircraft and providing alarms for less than $1,700.
  • Because of the success of FLARM® in the gliding community, powered aircraft owners are since a few years also installing FLARM® at an unprecedented rate.
  • Of course, technology is only an aid to collision avoidance, and pilots remain primarily reliant on the principle of see-and-avoid, which always requires vigilance and collaboration.


  • An in-depth article which - although written for helicopter pilots - provides valuable information on the hazards that exist in and around thunderstorms.
  • Thunderstorms can occur at any time of year, but as long as there is sufficient moisture and a lifting mechanism, harmless cumulous clouds, nurtured by daytime heating, mature into dark grey cumulonimbus clouds, and thunderstorms rumble across the landscape.
  • Thunderstorms sometimes form in groups of cells known as a squall line.
  • This narrow band of active storms creates a significant hazard to aviation, as it may be too long to detour around, and too severe to penetrate.
  • They develop in moist, unstable air, often on or ahead of a cold front, but may occur with no associated frontal activity.
  • They frequently contain steady-state thunderstorms and form rapidly, usually reaching maximum intensity in the late afternoon and early evening.
  • The cumulonimbus cloud packs just about every weather hazard known to aviation, often in one vicious bundle. Some of the individual hazards pilots face around thunderstorms are discussed in detail, including:
    • Turbulence: Shear Turbulence & Gust Fronts.
    • Precipitation: Intense Rain & Supercooled Hailstones.
    • Altimeter Error: Rapid rise & fall of pressure can create dangerous errors in altitude information
    • Lightning: While lightning strikes may be relatively benign events, every strike has the potential to cause serious damage to the aircraft & its occupants by:
      • Temporarily blinding pilots.
      • Disrupting or destroying radio communications.
      • Inducing permanent errors in the magnetic compass.
      • Causing unseen thermal damage to internal components, as the electricity passes through the aircraft.
    • If you suspect that you have been struck by lightning, have the aircraft thoroughly inspected immediately.
  • Due to the power and unpredictable nature of thunderstorms, avoidance is the only real strategy pilots have for dealing with them - in either IFR or VFR conditions.
  • Make the decision to land or clear the area at the first sign of an approaching storm.
  • If the storm cannot be avoided, the safest place to weather it out is on the ground.

TSB Final Report Summaries

TSB Final Report A14W0046 Runway incursion

  • A Beech 1900D entered the active runway, but a departing Boeing 737-700 was already airborne when the Beech 1900D entered the runway.

TSB Final Report A14Q0148 Runway excursion

  • During the rollout, the aircraft would not stop before reaching the end of the runway, so a high-speed left turn onto the taxiway was initiated.
  • The aircraft skidded to the right, and the right propeller struck a runway identification sign before the aircraft came to a stop.
  • The aircraft sustained substantial damage.
  • There were no injuries, and no fire occurred.

TSB Final Report A14Q0060 Collision with wires

  • While on power-line patrol, a helicopter struck a perpendicular transmission line.
  • The helicopter fell approximately 50 ft through trees, coming to rest on its left side in the snow.
  • Both occupants sustained serious injuries, yet were able to exit the aircraft. The helicopter was substantially damaged.
  • The 406 -megahertz emergency locator transmitter activated on impact. The Cospas-Sarsat International Satellite System for Search and Rescue did not receive a signal until 25 min after the accident.
  • There was no post-impact fire.

TSB Final Report A14O0077 Loss of control-Collision with water

  • A Cessna 185E was conducting a glassy water landing, when the floats dug into the water, the pilot lost control, and the aircraft cartwheeled and sank.
  • The aircraft fuselage was damaged by impact forces, and the pilot's door could not be opened. The pilot survived the impact but was not able to escape the submerged aircraft and drowned.
  • The aircraft was equipped with an emergency locator transmitter which activated; however, no signal was received due to the antenna being submerged.

TSB Final Report A13W0120 Engine failure after takeoff
and collision with terrain

  • During takeoff in a Douglas DC-3, there was a fire in the right engine.
  • The crew performed an emergency engine shutdown and attempted to land on another runway.
  • The aircraft struck a stand of trees and touched down south of the runway with the landing gear retracted.
  • An aircraft evacuation was accomplished and there were no injuries to the 3 crew members or the 21 passengers.
  • There was no post-impact fire.
  • The 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter did not activate.

TSB Final Report A13P0127 Mid-air collision

  • A Cessna 150F and a Stemme S10-VT motor glider collided then struck the ground in a Provincial Park Campsite.
  • There were 2 main accident sites about 0.3 nautical miles apart.
  • Both aircraft were destroyed, and there were no survivors.
  • There was an intense post-impact fire, which consumed the cockpit and engine compartment of the glider.
  • The Cessna engine compartment suffered a small post- impact fire, which self-extinguished.
  • No emergency locator transmitter signals were detected at the time of the accident.

Night-flying Quiz

  • 18 questions to test your knowledge and get you back in the night-flying mode.

Answers to the Night-flying Quiz

  • Answers to the above 18 questions, along with links to further information.


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