Harper government takes action to enhance air safety

OTTAWA, July 4, 2012 /CNW/ - The Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, today announced new regulations to improve aviation safety in Canada. The new regulations require private turbine-powered and commercial airplanes with six or more passenger seats to be equipped with an alert system known as the "terrain awareness and warning system" (TAWS).

"While Canada has one of the safest aviation systems in the world, we are committed to the continuous improvement of aviation safety," said Minister Lebel. "Terrain awareness and warning systems will help save lives."

The system provides acoustic and visual alerts to flight crews when the path of their aircraft is likely to collide with terrain, water or obstacles — a situation that can happen when visibility is low or the weather is poor. This gives the flight crew enough time to take evasive action.

The new regulations will also significantly increase safety for small aircraft, which fly into remote wilderness or mountainous areas where the danger of flying into terrain is highest.

Under the new regulations, operators will have two years to equip their airplanes with TAWS.

The regulations comply with the International Civil Aviation Organization's standards and bring Canadian regulations closer to those of other aviation authorities, including the United States and European Union. Canada's Transportation Safety Board also recommends the wider use of TAWS to help pilots assess their proximity to terrain.

Backgrounder

TERRAIN AWARENESS AND WARNING SYSTEMS

Terrain awareness and warning systems (TAWS) provide acoustic and visual alerts to flight crews when the path of their aircraft is predicted to collide with terrain, water or obstacles. This gives the crew sufficient time to take evasive action.

Airplane collisions with ground, water or obstacles, called "controlled flights into terrain," often result in fatalities. The new regulations will significantly reduce the risk of such collisions.

In October 2011, Minister Lebel approved the proposed regulations and recommended them to the Treasury Board. The amendments require TAWS to be installed in private turbine-powered and commercial airplanes with six or more passenger seats to prevent controlled flights into terrain.

The new regulations will replace the current regulatory requirement for a ground proximity warning system (GPWS) under section 605.37 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations. In comparison to GPWS, TAWS gives the flight crew much earlier acoustic and visual warnings of a collision, and does so under conditions where GPWS cannot.

The regulatory amendments require TAWS to be installed with an enhanced altitude accuracy function. TAWS requires precise altitude information to work properly in all climates. Without the enhanced altitude accuracy function, TAWS may give altitude readings that are incorrect by up to 500 feet because of factors such as air pressure and frigid temperatures.

Most Canadian operators that fly passenger airplanes internationally have already equipped their fleets with TAWS. It is estimated that the new regulations will save approximately $215 million over a 10-year period by preventing these types of accidents.

SOURCE Transport Canada

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