NAV Canada, hit arduous by the COVID-19 pandemic, is contemplating reducing air visitors controller jobs at seven towers throughout Canada in an effort to economize as the worldwide well being disaster continues to pull down air visitors.
However some aviation specialists and airways warn that lowering the variety of individuals who management air visitors and guarantee plane preserve their distance within the sky and on the bottom would quantity to eradicating a layer of safety.
“It will degrade the extent of security at Whitehorse,” stated Joe Sparling, president of Whitehorse-based airline Air North. “We’d encourage Nav Canada to search for different value discount measures.”
CBC Information obtained an inner memo from Nav Canada president and CEO Neil Wilson informing workers that the not-for-profit firm — which operates Canada’s civil air navigation system — is conducting research of air visitors management towers in Whitehorse, Regina, Fort McMurray in Alberta, Prince George in B.C., and Sault Ste. Marie and Windsor in Ontario which “will lead to workforce changes.”
The corporate additionally is trying into closing a management tower in St. Jean, Quebec. These places have been recognized as having low-air visitors ranges, even previous to the pandemic, the memo stated.
“We’re working carefully with our bargaining brokers to soundly streamline our operations in an ongoing effort to align with visitors ranges,” wrote Wilson on Nov. 14, including his dedication to security is unwavering.
Nav Canada manages tens of millions of kilometres of airspace over Canada and used to offer air navigation providers for greater than 3 million flights a yr. It is funded by service charges paid by air carriers.
COVID-19 has dramatically decreased the variety of flights throughout the nation since March. In September, there was a 63 per cent drop in air visitors in comparison with the identical month in 2019, based on Nav Canada numbers.
In response, the corporate introduced in September it was reducing greater than 720 jobs, or 14 per cent of its workforce.
The CEO additionally warned extra layoffs stay potential.
Transitioning to flight service stations
Nav Canada is finding out the opportunity of closing the St. Jean tower in Quebec. The corporate can be trying into transitioning the opposite six towers to “Flight Service Stations,” which might contain reducing air visitors controller jobs.
Flight service specialists — who value much less to make use of than air visitors controllers — would exchange these staff. They don’t have the ability to manage air visitors and preserve planes separated whereas in flight or on the bottom. As an alternative, they present advisory providers and details about climate, runway situations and air visitors, leaving it as much as pilots to maintain a secure distance from different planes.
Sparling stated Whitehorse would not have radar, so the tower cannot see air visitors on its screens. He stated reducing the variety of air visitors controllers from the airport might have an effect on pilots by making it more durable for them to maintain monitor of every part within the air.
“It removes the extent of security afforded to air operators,” he stated. “Throughout peak season, throughout heavy visitors durations, it’s a safer setting in the event you’re in a tower setting …
“The worst occasion can be a collision or one thing like that.”
Mid-air collision in 1999
David McNair, a former aviation security investigator with the Transportation Security Board, stated airports “with air visitors controllers are likely to have a safer administration of visitors.”
He pointed to a deadly mid-air collision over Penticton, B.C. in 1999 that killed 5 individuals and concerned flight service specialists. One aircraft had simply taken off from the airport when it collided with a descending aircraft. One plane smashed into the parking zone of the Okanagan College School, the opposite into the yard of a enterprise.
The crash raised issues concerning the lack of air visitors controllers on the airport on the time — positions that have been eradicated years earlier in a cost-cutting transfer by Transport Canada, based on a CBC report in 1999.
“Possible, neither pilot was conscious of the place the opposite plane was or what precisely it will be doing,” stated McNair. “A tower controller would have managed as required to offer separation.”
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens additionally raised issues final week concerning the affect on Windsor’s airport, arguing that eradicating “Nav Canada controllers at YQG will actually reduce us off on the knees … it is going to have a detrimental affect.” Metropolis officers plan to battle the transfer by arguing it might trigger delays and operational challenges.
‘Security is all the time our quantity on precedence,’ stated Nav Canada
In an announcement, Nav Canada stated that its research are “rigorous” and observe a course of set by Transport Canada that features public session.
“Security is all the time our primary precedence — and we’d by no means do something to jeopardize that,” stated Nav Canada spokesperson Rebecca Hickey in an announcement to CBC Information.
“When making choices, we all the time take a long-term view to protect the sustainability of the corporate and the integrity of the air navigation system of behalf of all Canadians.”
Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s workplace stated that earlier than Nav Canada strikes ahead with any workers reductions or terminations, it should guarantee it is going to preserve “rigorous aviation security requirements.”
“Transport Canada will work carefully with Nav Canada to make sure the protection of air transportation in Canada,” stated division spokesperson Amy Butcher in an announcement to CBC Information.
Below Canadian aviation laws, Garneau additionally has the ability to direct Nav Canada to take care of ranges of service if he believes there may be an unacceptable danger to aviation security.