01 January 2017

The Canadian Private Fleet Hits Zero Growth in 2016

Growth in the Canadian private civil aircraft fleet was essentially flat in 2016, growing by just 34 aircraft, or 0.12%, essentially nil growth. This was the lowest number recorded since the turn of the millennium and far worse than at any time during the recession of 2008-10.

Since 2001 the best growth we have seen was in 2008, just before the recession hit, when the private fleet grew at a peak rate of 3.2%. As the accompanying graph shows this is not a one year blip, but is a long term structural change happening in private flying, one that is being driven by some larger economic and demographic forces.

The forces at work here probably include the ongoing flat state of the Canadian economy, the low dollar relative to the US and demographic factors involving an aging pilot population. The figures for 2016 don't yet reflect the effect of higher oil prices that are expected in 2017 as a result of the OPEC and non-OPEC production cuts that won't be felt until much later in the new year, or new government carbon pricing initiatives.

The US economy continued to do well in 2016 and its dollar remained fairly high against the Canadian dollar. With the Canadian dollar ending the year at 74 cents US, Canadian aircraft asking prices in US dollars have dropped enough to result in a net flow of used certified aircraft out of Canada.

For the first time in the 21st century, the overall Canadian civil fleet size, including private, commercial and state aircraft, actually shrunk in 2016.

In 2016 the total Canadian civil fleet decreased in size by four aircraft, down from an increase of 66 in 2015. In 2016 the private segment of the fleet increased by 34 aircraft, while the commercial aircraft fleet decreased by 28 aircraft and the state fleet, those aircraft owned by the various levels of government in Canada, shrank by ten aircraft. Overall the civil fleet size was essentially flat in 2016.

Certified Aircraft

Certified aircraft had been leading the growth in private aircraft for a number of years, but that trend changed in 2015 when we lost 103 certified aircraft. This accelerated in 2016, as aircraft left the country in larger numbers, as we lost 161 certified aircraft.

In 2016 the changes to the private certified fleet were made up of a reduction of 127 airplanes (notably including 42 twins), 31 helicopters and three gliders.

There were 16,132 private certified aircraft at the end of 2016, out of a total of 29,270 private aircraft registered or 55%.

Basic Ultralights

BULAs were once again where the growth was in private aviation in 2016. During the year the category increased by 104 aircraft, virtually unchanged from the growth of 101 in 2015. There were 6,120 BULAs registered at the end of 2016.

The enduring attraction of this category undoubtedly remains that it is the lowest cost way of buying an aircraft.

Owner-maintained

The O-M category added 34 aircraft in 2016, down from the 42 added in 2015, but enough to make it the category with the second best growth for 2016, behind basic ultralights. The 34 aircraft added were all airplanes, no gliders this year. By the end of 2016, there were 707 O-M aircraft on the registry, made up of 689 airplanes and 18 gliders.

It is worth noting that aircraft are not built in this category, but are mostly existing Canadian certified aircraft that are move to O-M. Some may also be certified aircraft imported from other countries into the O-M category, as well.

The O-M category has continued to suffer from low numbers of aircraft being moved from the certified category ever since the American FAA announced that O-M aircraft will never be allowed to fly in US airspace or sold in the USA.

Amateur-builts

Amateur-builts were in the number three growth position in 2016, increasing by 28 aircraft, although down from an increase of 44 in 2015 and 67 in 2014. Interest in this category seems to be waning over time. In 2016 the aircraft added were made up of 22 airplanes, four helicopters and two gyroplanes. Airships, balloons and gliders saw no new net additions this past year.

Amateur-builts now number 4,208 in Canada and include a wide variety of aircraft, from fixed wing airplanes, helicopters, gliders, gyroplanes to balloons, airships and even one ornithopter, although the latter is confined to a museum.

Advanced Ultralights

Advanced ultralights were in fourth place for growth again in 2016, increasing their numbers by only five airplanes, well down from 20 in 2015 and 17 in 2014. Their growth this year brought the total number of AULAs on the civil register to 1,235. By its category definition, all AULAs are powered, fixed wing aircraft.

The AULA category was introduced in 1991 and therefore 2016 was its 25th anniversary year. The category has increased its numbers at an average of 49 aircraft per year since its inception and so can hardly be considered the success that was anticipated when it was started. As in recent years, the number of AULAs added in 2016 was well below the average from the category's earlier years. The low sales figures are mostly likely linked to the high price of new AULAs and their American counter-parts, Light-Sport Aircraft. US LSAs are likewise seeing very anemic sales numbers, far below expectations.

Commercial Fleet

In 2016 the commercial aircraft fleet decreased by 28 aircraft to bring it down to 6,920. The numbers show a decrease of seven airplanes and 23 helicopters, with an increase of one commercial gyroplane.

In round numbers, at the end of 2016 the private fleet made up 80% of the aircraft in Canada, with the commercial fleet at 19% and the state fleet at 1%, all basically unchanged from 2015.

Imports & Exports

Aircraft imports into Canada in 2016 numbered 398, which was down from 506 in 2015 and well below the 968 imported during the pre-recession days of 2008. Canadians are just not buying foreign aircraft like they once did, likely due to the low dollar and demographics taking more people out of flying than coming in.

In 2016, 786 aircraft were exported, giving a difference of 388 favouring exported aircraft over those imported.

Demographics

As recent survey data shows, recreational flying is something being done by an increasing older group of participants each year. This is a concern from several perspectives, as people retire from flying due to age or leave for medical reasons and few young people enter the field. This means that used aircraft prices fall due to fewer buyers, airports and aviation businesses close due to loss of customers and overall aviation shrinks due to loss of participation, fuel and insurance sales drop. This all reduces economies of scale, makes it more expensive and less attractive over time to get into. As the flying population ages, it is also increasingly seen by younger people as something only done by older people.

This is not a universally-seen effect across the range of all recreational activities, however. Many Canadian sailing clubs, for instance, report strong numbers of new youth and young families joining, for both cruising and racing, driven by such factors as low costs, low regulatory barriers and low environmental impacts, areas where aviation has trouble competing for participants. So it isn't that young people are just playing Pokemon-Go and avoiding all other activities, but that aviation specifically is not attracting them.

Looking at 2017

World oil prices increased near the end of the year to around US$56 per barrel due to the anticipated OPEC and non-OPEC production cuts, which are aimed at eliminating the current world oil glut and increasing oil prices in 2017. A prolonged increase in the price of fuel will likely reduce demand for aircraft and result in dropping used aircraft prices. OPEC seems to be intending to increase their returns on their conventional oil supplies, while not letting prices get high enough to allow the increase of North American shale and oil sands production back to previous levels. If they miscalculate, create a shortage and oil prices increase back to over $100 per barrel, this will probably strengthen the Canadian dollar and reduce used aircraft prices for Canadians, even as it increases aircraft operating costs.

Note: Aircraft data for this report was taken from the Transport Canada Civil Aircraft Register and reflects the difference between the number of aircraft registered in Canada on 31 December 2015 and 31 December 2016. These statistics reflect the net number of aircraft built and imported, minus the number destroyed, scrapped and exported. Just because an aircraft is registered in Canada does not mean it is being flown and therefore the number of registered aircraft should not be confused with the amount of flying activity.

24 December 2016

Robert Kostecka To Talk on The Airbus A380

From Rani Tolton, Chair of the Eastern Ontario Chapter of the 99s

Robert Kostecka will present a talk entitled, Discover the A380

The Airbus A380 is the is the world's largest passenger airliner. It is also a very sophisticated aircraft, with a flight deck that incorporates the latest advances in technology. In this presentation, pilot Rob Kostecka, provides an introduction to this fascinating aircraft. We hope that you'll join us to learn about some of the unique features of the A380.

The presentation provides an overview of some of the A380's systems, including:

  • advanced flight deck design with electronic flight instrument system (EFIS)
  • onboard information system (OIS), which creates a "paperless" cockpit
  • external and taxi camera system (ETACS)
  • fly-by-wire flight controls which incorporate Airbus flight control laws

The presentation also describes how training is conducted on modern aircraft:

  • computer-based training (CBT) ground school
  • multi-function training device (MFTD)
  • evacuation training (emergency slides)
  • full flight simulator (FFS)

As a professional pilot, Rob has accumulated more than 13000 hrs of flying time - with 4000 hrs PIC on transport category jet aircraft. He holds type ratings on a variety of aircraft including the A320, A330, A340, A380, B757, B767, CRJ, Dash 8 and B-25. Rob is an experienced simulator instructor and has qualified as an Approved Check Pilot (ACP). In 2007, he served as a member of the international team that conducted the Operational Evaluation (OE) of the A380.

This presentation has been designed for all aviation enthusiasts.

Here are the details:

  • What: Discover the A380
  • Presented by: Robert Kostecka
  • Where: Rockcliffe Flying Club
  • Date: Thursday 12 January 2017
  • Time: 1900 hrs
  • Who: Everyone is welcome!

23 November 2016

Fly Canada 150 Adventure for 2017

Next year, 2017, will be Canada's 150th birthday and birthdays are times for celebrations!

One COPA member and former member of the COPA board of director's, Darin Graham, has taken on an interesting aviation project to mark the year, that he calls Fly Canada 150.

Graham explains:

In celebration of Canada’s 150th Birthday, my goal is to attempt to fly my small airplane to over 150 airports throughout Canada. I hope to visit at least one airport in each of the provinces and territories.

This is a celebration of the importance that aviation and airports have played in keeping Canada vibrant and prosperous.

You can help celebrate and make a difference too. I hope you make a donation to two remarkable aviation charities – "Hope Air" and "COPA’s Freedom to Fly".

You can follow Graham's progress as he flies his Piper PA-28-140 around Canada, starting in the new year on his project website.

External links

13 October 2016

The October 2016 Edition of the AIM Has Been Released

The 13 October 2016 copy of the Transport Canada Aeronautical Information Manual is now available for free download as a 38.6 MB sized PDF. The book is 510 pages in colour!

Transport Canada doesn't give a lot of stuff away for free anymore, so get your free copy of the newest edition of the AIM today.




External links

12 October 2016

Mo's 28th Fly-in 25 February 2017 - Event Cancelled

We were informed on 09 January 2017 that this event has been cancelled.

11 October 2016

Book Review - SR-71 Flight Manual

  • SR-71 Flight Manual - The Official Pilot's Handbook, Declassified, And Expanded With Commentary
  • Original text written by the USAF, with a new commentary by Colonel Richard H. Graham, USAF (ret)
  • Published by Voyageur Press, Quarto Publishing Group, Minneapolis, 1 October 2016
  • 8.5" X 11" paperback, 1 7/8" thick, 5.3 lbs
  • 1040 pages, includes index
  • Cdn$98.00 (paper)

Which pilot hasn't wanted to take an SR-71 up to Mach 3.2 at 85,000 feet? Sadly the SR-71 flew its last mission on 9 October 1999, finishing up a 35 year career that started with its first flight on 22 December 1964. Thirty-two of the iconic black reconnaissance aircraft were built and, of those, 12 were crashed. The surviving SR-71s are now all museum pieces, although the Blackbird lives on in several video games. While you can't fly the real thing anymore, you can get a true insider's feel for what it would have been like to be assigned to fly them at the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB in California, by studying the aircraft's flight manual.

The USAF SR-71 Flight Manual was of course once classified as "secret", but with the aircraft now retired for 17 years the book has been largely declassified and has now been published for public consumption by Voyageur Press, part of the Quarto Publishing Group.

The SR-71 Flight Manual is a big book. Printed in its original 8.5 X 11" format, it is just under 2" thick and weighs in at 5.3 lbs. It would make a formidable doorstop!

To literally add colour to the original flight manual text, Voyageur Press engaged retired SR-71 pilot and 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing commander, Colonel Richard H. Graham, to create an introduction to the aircraft. Graham's contribution consists of the first 63 velum pages of text and photos, many of them in colour. Graham's text brings the aircraft to life as he relates many tales that illustrate the use of the aircraft in service, plus stories from other pilots and Reconnaissance Sensor Operators (RSOs) who flew the SR-71. His introduction is divided into sections that match the layout of the flight manual that follows and add very useful illumination. He even includes one official photo of the A-12 "Oxcart" single seater that preceded the SR-71 into service, too.

Following Graham's extensive introduction, the flight manual itself takes up the rest of the volume. It covers the SR-71A two seat reconnaissance aircraft and also includes the supplements about the SR-71B trainer model, of which two were built and used to check pilots out on the SR-71.

The flight manual is divided into sections covering: description and operation, the SR-71B trainer, normal operations, emergency procedures, navigation and sensor equipment, operating limitations, flight characteristics and all-weather operation. These are followed by appendix 1 which includes a glossary and performance charts and then finally an index. The SR-71B description and the index sections have been printed out of order, but it isn't too confusing.

I have to admit that I have a bit of a love for military writing and especially aircraft manuals. It was probably the two decades I spent in the Canadian Forces as a military pilot, including time at staff school, learning to write with "clarity, brevity and conciseness", as well as working in headquarters doing military writing, that left me with an enjoyment of the crisp terseness of good quality military prose. This book has it in spades, too. I'll give a couple of examples here. This is the basic description of the aircraft:

"The SR-71 is a delta-wing, two-place aircraft powered by two axial-flow turbojet engines. The aircraft, built by the Lockheed California Company, features titanium construction and is designed to operate at high altitudes and high supersonic speeds. The aircraft has very thin wings, twin canted rudders mounted on top of the engine nacelles, and a pronounced fuselage "chine" extending from the nose to the leading edge of the wing. The propulsion system uses movable spikes to vary air inlet geometry. Surface controls are elevons and rudders, operated by irreversible hydraulic actuators with artificial pilot control feel. The aircraft can be refueled either in-flight or on the ground through separate receptacles that feed into a common refueling line. A drag chute is provided to augment the six-mainwheel brakes. The aircraft is painted black to reduce internal temperatures when at high speed."

Reading the manual starts to give a flavour beyond mere counting of rivets and the reader gets drawn into not only the amazing engineering that went into creating a Mach 3.2 aircraft in the early 1960s, but also what the operational crews, pilots and RSOs who flew it were dealing with, all in that terse military, no-nonsense style.

Crew members normally flew in spacesuit-like pressure suits. This quote is from Section 3, Emergency Procedures, describing ejection procedures:

"After ejection, descent is normally made to approximately 15,000 feet while in the seat with drogue chute stabilization. (Refer to Figure 3-3.) Note: The seat may spin and rotate while descending with the drogue chute deployed. It may be possible to arrest such motions by using the arms and hands in the airstream."

Ejection near the maximum operating altitude of 85,000 feet must have been quite an experience for those who survived it!

The flight manual includes 139 pages of emergency procedures, all of which would have been learned and memorized. As a crew member your life depended on it!

A large part of section IV, navigation and sensor equipment, is dedicated to describing the Astrointertial Navigation System, which did its own automatic star plots by day and night to continuously update the on-board gyroscope-based INS. This was groundbreaking technology for the 1960s and without this autonomous system pilots would have easily become lost in the SR-71. As test pilot Paul Crickmore wrote about the SR-71, "you've never been lost until you've been lost at Mach 3." The ground disappears behind you fast at 35 miles per minute!

The book also provides great detail about air-to-air refuelling, the life-blood of all SR-71 operations. Almost every mission required dropping down to 25,000 to 30,000 feet and meeting up with a KC-135 or KC-10 tanker carrying the SR-71's unique JP-7 fuel, at least once and frequently more often. Sometimes this meant refueling in the dark and often the SR-71 needed one engine in afterburner at those inefficient altitudes to form up on the tanker. Pilots flew with their seats adjusted down low to provide the best view of the tanker above them.

As you read the flight manual the reader slowly builds up a picture of the effort required to design, build, fly and maintain this remarkable aircraft. You gain a new appreciation for what it meant to be over hostile lands, taking photos at more than three times the speed of sound and 16 miles up. It was an extraordinary aircraft and the flight manual tells its story well.

While this would be a great addition to any aviator's bookshelf, the manual reprint is not perfect. The book has 74 pages missing that show up in the "list of effective pages", but not in the book. Missing are pages 1-35 to 1-38, 1-74 to 1-75, 4-79 to 4-104, 4-119 to 4-160. The publisher confirmed to me that, "the pages in question were never declassified" and so could not be included. Judging from the table of contents the missing pages include such mundane text as how to operate the TACAN navigation radio and a description of the windshield, as well as subjects like the optical and electronic sensors carried, plus the synthetic aperture radar system. This does detract somewhat from the book, but it doesn't kill it. I have suggested to the publisher that a note in the front of the book about the missing pages might be helpful to readers.

External links

27 September 2016

Best Sellers Lost In Fire

The total stock of three of Jack Scofields's best seller aviation books have been lost in a fire that consumed his publisher’s warehouse. The award winning title, Flights of a Coast Dog and the pilot/author’s No Numbered Runways and Coast Dogs Don’t Lie are acknowledged as the pre-eminent books describing the colourful float-plane industry on the British Columbia coast. When first published, Flights of a Coast Dog was awarded a BC Book award and listed as recommended reading for grade eleven students by the Vancouver School Board.

Schofield is hoping to republish the three titles in a 3-book set in softcover if he can pre-sell 80 sets of the books at $75.00 per set to cover the cost of printing a short run. He suggests the 3-book set would be an excellent Christmas gift for your favourite aviator, who might just be yourself.

To order the three book set email Jack. Just order your sets, don’t send any money yet! Jack will advise you when 80 sets have been ordered.

31 August 2016

Book Review - Fighting Cockpits

  • Fighting Cockpits, In the Pilot's Seat of Great Military Aircraft from World War I to Today
  • Text by Donald Nijboer, photography by Dan Patterson
  • Published by Zenith Press, Quarto Publishing Group USA, printed in China, 1 June 2016
  • 12.25" X 10" (cover size) hardback
  • 224 pages, including bibliography and an index
  • Cdn$48.00, US$40.00, £25.00

Fighting Cockpits is the latest work from the team of aviation historian Donald Nijboer and photographer Dan Patterson. The two have collaborated before on other books in this series, Cockpit: An Illustrated History of World War II Aircraft Interiors, Gunner: An Illustrated History of World War II Aircraft Turrets and Gun Positions and Cockpits of the Cold War. This new work, just published in June 2016, covers a wider period of aviation history, ranging from the First World War to jet fighters of the 21st century.

With a hardback cover size of 12.25" X 10", 224 velum pages and at a gross weight of 3.7 lbs (1.7 kg), this is quite a large work. In fact it is curiously a slightly larger format than the previous Cockpit and Gunner books, which measure 12.25" X 9.25".

Fighting Cockpits also features a foreword by legendary RN test pilot Eric M. Brown, who also contributes some aircraft impressions to the text as well. Brown died during the work completing this book, on 21 February 2016, at age 97.

Each chapter includes an introduction to the historical period to set the stage, plus a list of typical things that an aviator would find in his aircraft's cockpit during that period. The entries for each aircraft generally run two to four pages, starting with Nijboer's brief history of the type, its development and operational employment. This is followed by Pilot Impressions, by pilots who have flown the type. Some are by operational military pilots, some by test pilots, like Brown, who were given the job of evaluating the aircraft for military purposes and some by museum pilots who fly them today. The second page of each entry then features Patterson's photo of the cockpit, usually taken from the pilot's point-of-view. Most of these have been shot in museums and so Patterson has blacked out the view forward, which would have otherwise shown other museum aircraft or building walls. The result is that distractions are eliminated. One exception is the Grumman EA-6B Prowler, shot on an airfield ramp, which needed no black-out treatment.

The book is organized by historical period. The first section is Wind in the Wires, which deals with First World War aircraft. Included are the Nieuport 28, Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5, Bristol F.2B, Fokker Dr.I, Sopwith Camel, Sopwith Triplane, AEG G.IV, SPAD VII, Halberstadt CL.IV and the Fokker D.VII.

Between the Wars, The Rise of the Monoplane, covers the interwar period and the switch in military aviation from biplanes to monoplanes. It includes the Martin MB-2 bomber, Hawker Hind, Fiat CR.32, Boeing P-26 Peashooter, Curtiss F9C, Sparrowhawk, Vought SB2U Vindicator, Westland Lysander and the PZL P.11.

World War II, Death At 30,000 feet is the longest chapter and covers the Supermarine Spitfire, Messerschmitt Bf 109, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, North American P-51 Mustang, Handley Page Halifax, Vickers Wellington, Focke-Wulf Fw 190, Fairey Firefly, Fiat CR.42, Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik, Heinkel He 219 Uhu, Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu, Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, Northrop P-61 Black Widow, Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Boeing B-29 Superfortress, Dornier Do 335 Pfeil, Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe jet fighter and the Arado Ar 234 Blitz twin jet bomber.

Cold War to the Present, Mutually Assured Destruction, includes the North American F-86 Sabre, Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, Grumman A-6 Intruder, General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark, Hawker Siddeley Harrier, McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, Grumman F-14 Tomcat, Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, Mikoyan MiG-29, Rockwell B-1 Lancer, Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk, Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and finally the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, which was just entering military service as the book was published.

The majority of the entries then have a few operational photos that show the general layout of the aircraft, its shape and markings. A few of the entries, like the Halberstadt CL.IV, Martin MB-2 and the Fiat CR.42, have no other photos beyond the cockpit images. This is unfortunate, as these are rare types and many readers will be sent scurrying to Wikipedia to see what the aircraft looks like in overall view. Even a small inset photo of the whole aircraft in an unused corner of the full-page cockpit photo would have been appreciated.

The book has lots of detail, both in Patterson's immaculate photographs and in Nijboer's descriptive text, including his notes on the evolution of ergonomics and cockpit instrumentation over a hundred years of aircraft building.

This book has some overlap in aircraft types with the team's 1998 book, Cockpit: An Illustrated History of World War II Aircraft Interiors, as some aircraft, such as the Mustang, Me 109 and Spitfire appear in both books, but there is all new text, along with new cockpit photos, too, for each entry.

Some people may not see the value of a book like this, as it is pictures of museum aircraft, which can been seen by anyone visiting the museum, but the book does offer two distinct advantages. First this collection was assembled from a large number of museums, including Ottawa's own Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Rockcliffe, the Swedish Air Force Museum, The New England Air Museum, the National Museum of the US Air Force, the RAF Museum and of course the Smithsonian. A few were shot on air base ramps, like the Grumman EA-6B Prowler, photographed on the ramp of the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona. A person would have to do a lot of travelling to see in person the aircraft that Patterson has photographed.

The second factor that this book gives the reader something you can't generally get from a museum visit, the view from the pilot's seat. While a couple of cockpit shots were done from outside the aircraft, like the Arado Ar 234 Blitz, the rest are shot from the pilot's perspective, something not many museums afford the casual visitor. Creating a book like this obviously grants special access to the aircraft that the public just doesn't routinely get. That is worthwhile, alone.

Fighting Cockpits is a book that will appeal to aviation history buffs of all ages. Engineers and aircraft designers may also find it of interest, to trace the history of cockpit ergonomics and see how many earlier aircraft were designed in such a way that pilots had to learn to fly them, despite the designer's work.

I am hoping that the team of Nijboer and Patterson will one day turn their talents to general aviation aircraft past and present and bring us a view of the cockpits of light aircraft, gliders, motor gliders, gyroplanes, airships, helicopters, air tankers, crop dusters, flying boats, amphibians, hang gliders, homebuilts, ultralights and the other small aircraft found around the world.

External links

01 August 2016

Hanover Fly-in Flea Market
























The organizer of the Aerobatic Competition that is being held At CYHS (Hanover Saugeen Municipal Airport) during the same time period, 20 and 21 August 2016 as the Flea Market, is submitting NOTAMS this week. The Airport is open all day during the competition. The competition “Air Box” is to the west of the airport.

Please check the NOTAMS before flying into CYHS.

Book Review - Brace For Impact

  • Brace For Impact - Air Crashes and Aviation Safety
  • By Peter Pigott
  • Published by Dundurn Press, Toronto, 2016
  • 7" X 10" paperback
  • 272 pages, including notes and an index
  • $29.00 (paper and PDF) $14.99 (EPub)

Brace For Impact is Ottawa-based author Peter Pigott's 20th book and his 14th on an aviation subject. This certainly makes him one of Canada's more prolific aviation authors.

This new work tackles the subject of aircraft accidents and in particular Canadian aircraft accidents, although for perspective some notable accidents in other countries are touched upon. The book covers a history of Canadian aviation accident investigation, including the agencies and some of the people involved, the politics, the technology and, of course, describes many of the key aircraft accidents that have occurred.

The book has 18 chapters, interweaving the accident stories with the history of how the profession of aircraft accident investigation has progressed, as accident numbers and their complexity increased. The author especially focuses on how the introduction of cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders has allowed the investigation of large aircraft accidents to be greatly improved.

Starting from the very first pioneering accidents in the very early 20th century, the book covers the First World War, the post-war barnstorming era, the beginnings of the airmail and the early airline passenger flights. Additional chapters cover civil transport in the Second World War, the coming of the jet age and the inevitable discussion of the early deHavilland Comet crashes as well as the landmark mid-air collision between an RCAF Harvard trainer and a Trans Canada Airlines North Star over Moose Jaw.

Accidents that get detailed treatment in the book include the Trans Canada DC-8 crash in Sainte Therese, Quebec on 29 December 1963; the Canadian Pacific DC-8 crash at Toyko's Haneda airport on 4 March 1966; the collision of two 747s on the ground at Tenerife, Canary Islands on 27 March 1977, which remains the biggest loss of life air accident ever, with 583 people killed; the Pacific Western 737 crash at Cranbrook on 11 February 1978; the Air France A340 runway overrun at Toronto on 2 August 2005; the Arrow Air crash at Gander on 12 December 1985; the Air Ontario Fokker F28 crash at Dryden on 10 March 1989; the Nationair DC-8 crash in Saudi Arabia on 11 July 1991; the Swiss Air 111 crash of an MD-11 off Peggy's Cove on 2 September 1998; the First Air 737 crash at Resolute Bay on 20 August 2011 and finally the Air Canada A320 crash at Halifax on 29 March 2015.

Also covered is the demise of the Canadian Aviation Safety Board and its replacement with the Transportation Safety Board and some of the reasons for that change. The author also tackles the transfer of the nation's ATC to Nav Canada, citing its closure of facilities as a cause factor in the crash of several aircraft, including the mid-air collision of two Cessnas at Maschouche on 7 December 1997 after a portable control tower there had been decommissioned and the Air Canada CRJ crash at Fredericton, after the control tower had been replaced with what the author terms "a less expensive 'flight servicing station'".

The author saves some of his most scathing criticism for Michel Leblanc, a Canadian airline CEO, he describes as "callous" and "lacking ethics", as an example of how a top-down corporate culture can contribute to safety issues in airliner operations.

As can be seen from the list of accidents, the majority of coverage in this book is of airline flying, with mention of a few military accidents, like the Canso that crashed in Ottawa's Lac DeschĂȘnes in July 1945, with five crew members killed. General aviation is represented in a few of the case studies, including the interesting example of a mid-air collision between a Beechcraft Bonanza and Piper Cherokee over Warrington, Virginia, on 28 May 2012. Both aircraft were US-registered and the accident happened over the US, but the TSB was asked to investigate, as the two pilots involved were an FAA accident investigator and the NTSB's chief medical officer. The Canadian agency was asked to investigate to eliminate any potential conflict of interest in having the US NTSB handle the case. The TSB determined that it was a failure to "see and avoid" on both pilot's parts.

Piggot starts off the book with an invocation against the media and their tendency to sensationalize aircraft accidents. He writes on page 11, "because air crashes are so infrequent (compared with the daily carnage on the highways), when they do happen, they make for gut-wrenching, fear-inducing headlines and dramatic images." On page 65 he emphasizes the point over the Hindenburg crash in 1937, "the media's first resort in an air crash is to sensationalize it, and there was no better way in this case than to suspect sabotage." Of course the Hindenburg was brought down by far less dramatic reasons than sabotage. But with chapter titles like "Douglas Death Cruisers and Mourning Becomes Electra", "Terror in Tenerife, Pilot Error", and "Air Traffic Chaos" as well as "Nationair and ValuJet: Folly Upon Folly", I am not sure the author has entirely escaped this effect.

The book is generally well-written and illustrated, with many black and white, as well as colour photographs. It is an engaging read. One of the questions I asked myself while reading the book was who the target audience is. While light aircraft pilots may read this book, the focus on airline accidents and the lack of technical detail on accident causes makes this book of limited use as a flight safety text, for understanding accidents and learning to avoid them operationally. There are some technical errors in the text that non-pilots often make in writing aviation books, too, such as the description of a pilot increasing power and attempting to climb by pulling "the control throttle all the way back". As an aviation history book this work will appeal most to the aviation history buff.

External links

30 July 2016

Oshkosh 2016 Photo Gallery

Flight 8's Mike Shaw is in Oshkosh with his wife, Gail, for the fly-in and sent some photos, despite the rain and cooler temperatures that they have seen.