Northern Pilots Don't Need Tougher Standards

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Canadian commercial pilots are trained to handle everything the vast (and often forbidding) country can throw at them and don't need special training for Northern flying, says a Transport Canada official. Michel Gaudreau was responding to the findings of a coroner's inquest into a crash that ultimately killed four people in the Northwest Territories almost two years ago. The jury recommended special training and even a probation period for inexperienced pilots tackling the often unpredictable conditions in the North. It also recommended new-generation ELTs be on board all aircraft flying in the North. Michel Gaudreau said the agency's experience standards for commercial pilots (100 hours PIC, 200 hours TT) along with the training and testing they undergo prepares them to fly anywhere in the country. "Once a pilot meets a certain standard ... he meets the standards to fly anywhere in Canada whether it's in the high-density traffic of the South or whether it's in the isolation of the North." A 23-year-old man was at the controls of the Ursus Air Cessna 172 when it hit a mountain in the Northwest Territories on Dec. 31, 2001. One passenger died in the crash, while the pilot and two others died of exposure awaiting rescue.