NAV Canada, hit onerous by the COVID-19 pandemic, is contemplating reducing air site visitors controller jobs at seven towers throughout Canada in an effort to save cash as the worldwide well being disaster continues to tug down air site visitors.
However some aviation specialists and airways warn that lowering the variety of individuals who management air site visitors and guarantee plane hold 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,” mentioned Joe Sparling, president of Whitehorse-based airline Air North. “We might encourage Nav Canada to search for different value discount measures.”
CBC Information obtained an inside memo from Nav Canada president and CEO Neil Wilson informing employees that the not-for-profit firm — which operates Canada’s civil air navigation system — is conducting research of air site 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 end in workforce changes.”
The corporate additionally is trying into closing a management tower in St. Jean, Quebec. These areas have been recognized as having low-air site visitors ranges, even previous to the pandemic, the memo mentioned.
“We’re working intently with our bargaining brokers to soundly streamline our operations in an ongoing effort to align with site visitors ranges,” wrote Wilson on Nov. 14, including his dedication to security is unwavering.
Nav Canada manages thousands and thousands of kilometres of airspace over Canada and used to supply air navigation companies for greater than 3 million flights a yr. It is funded by way of 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 site 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.
NAV Canada is coping with an unprecedented drop in air site visitors attributable to COVID-19 and is reducing air site visitors controllers at towers throughout Canada. (Canadian Press)
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 site visitors controller jobs.
Flight service specialists — who value much less to make use of than air site visitors controllers — would change these staff. They don’t have the ability to manage air site visitors and hold planes separated whereas in flight or on the bottom. As a substitute, they present advisory companies and details about climate, runway situations and air site visitors, leaving it as much as pilots to maintain a secure distance from different planes.
Sparling mentioned Whitehorse would not have radar, so the tower cannot see air site visitors on its screens. He mentioned reducing the variety of air site visitors controllers from the airport may have an effect on pilots by making it tougher for them to maintain observe of every little thing within the air.
“It removes the extent of security afforded to air operators,” he mentioned. “Throughout peak season, throughout heavy site visitors durations, it’s a safer atmosphere for those who’re in a tower atmosphere …
“The worst occasion could be a collision or one thing like that.”
The president of Air North warns in opposition to reducing the extent of service on the air site visitors management tower in Whitehorse.
Mid-air collision in 1999
David McNair, a former aviation security investigator with the Transportation Security Board, mentioned airports “with air site visitors controllers are likely to have a safer administration of site 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 airplane had simply taken off from the airport when it collided with a descending airplane. One plane smashed into the car parking zone of the Okanagan College School, the opposite into the yard of a enterprise.
The crash raised considerations in regards to the lack of air site 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 could be doing,” mentioned McNair. “A tower controller would have managed as required to supply separation.”
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens additionally raised considerations final week in regards to the influence on Windsor’s airport, arguing that eradicating “Nav Canada controllers at YQG will actually minimize us off on the knees … it’s going to have a detrimental influence.” Metropolis officers plan to battle the transfer by arguing it may trigger delays and operational challenges.
‘Security is at all times our primary precedence,’ mentioned Nav Canada
In a press release, Nav Canada mentioned that its research are “rigorous” and observe a course of set by Transport Canada that features public session.
“Security is at all times our primary precedence — and we’d by no means do something to jeopardize that,” mentioned Nav Canada spokesperson Rebecca Hickey in a press release to CBC Information.
“When making choices, we at all times 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 mentioned that earlier than Nav Canada strikes ahead with any employees reductions or terminations, it should guarantee it’s going to keep “rigorous aviation security requirements.”
“Transport Canada will work intently with Nav Canada to make sure the protection of air transportation in Canada,” mentioned division spokesperson Amy Butcher in a press release 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’s an unacceptable threat to aviation security.