Canadians 'Satisfied' With Private ATC

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AOPA will back off on using Canada as a flawed example of privatized air traffic control after its Canadian counterpart protested AOPA's "lack of understanding of the situation in Canada." Bernard Gervais, president of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, particularly chafed at a column written by AOPA President Mark Baker in the September edition of AOPA Pilot in which Baker wrote: “General Aviation in Canada no longer thrives, and it’s unfortunate to see pilots there don’t have the same options we enjoy here in the United States.” Gervais said in an email to Baker that GA is alive and well in Canada and his 17,000 members “are largely satisfied with the service we receive from Nav Canada and all of them take exception with the idea that Canadian GA is dead.” Gervais got an immediate response from AOPA Pilot Editor-in-Chief Tom Haines. He said the column by Baker was written before COPA had made its position clear during meetings at AirVenture and AOPA “will stop painting with such a broad brush when referring to the impact of privatization on other nations.”

Nav Canada, a not-for-profit corporation created 20 years ago to take over air traffic services in Canada, is often cited by privatization supporters in the U.S. as an example of how the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS) could be managed. The proposal before Congress bears similarity to Nav Canada’s structure. GA groups in the U.S. have formed a united front against the notion of privatization for a variety of reasons, chief among them the worry that airlines will end up with control of the system through dominance on the proposed corporation’s board of directors. Gervais told Baker he has no quarrel with his and other groups’ opposition to privatization in the U.S. but the Canadian experience and the system that administers it is different. “We are not against your opposition to privatization, we are asking that you stop using Canada as your example,” Gervais said. COPA has had some issues with Nav Canada's restriction of VFR access to some of Canada's major airports in recent months. Nav Canada has blamed the periodic closure of some terminal airspace to VFR traffic on staffing shortages. Gervais, a member of Nav Canada's Advisory Committee, said the corporation is responsive to these sorts of issues. "Where improvements can be done, the board of Nav Canada actually take them on," he said.

Comments (4)

Of course they love their system...it's all they have and those left who can afford to fly can pay the freight. Fly into Canada IFR and brace yourself for the bill...after you pay and arm and a leg for fuel while you're there. I'm no fan of the FAA and all they try to do...but it is one of the things our tax money should rightfully be spent unlike 1000's of other programs that Fedzilla has no business being in.

Posted by: robert peach | August 17, 2017 11:01 PM    Report this comment

I am a Canadian flight instructor and a pilot for 10 years now. I would say that Nav Canada is a mixed bag for Canadian GA. It's good at small airports. The moment you try going to bigger airports, VFR or training IFR, problems start to arise, especially in the summer. The TL;DR version is that when Nav Canada works, it works really well. When it breaks, it breaks pretty badly for GA. But they do make a sincere/concerted effort to make things work for GA. Maybe that is why you don't hear Canadians complain too much.

Posted by: Praveen Premchandran | August 18, 2017 6:33 PM    Report this comment

Here lies the problem with AOPA USA. They are constantly trying to be Politically correct. That's is why they constantly roll over and fail to act when it is crucial.

I call BS on Gervais nonsense about AOPA's "lack of understanding of the situation in Canada." There is no misunderstanding at all. The service is horrendously expensive and spotty in many areas of that country.

They cannot hold a candle to US ATC. I know because I have had to deal with them many times.

Baker needs to put forth a strong opposition to ATC privatization and not use ridiculous examples of privatized ATC such as found in Canada and Europe.

Posted by: Ronald Pogatchnik | August 19, 2017 11:44 AM    Report this comment

I was around when Canada airspace was privatized, and I don't have a single good word to say about it.
The government used to collect ATC costs in a fuel tax, but, in Canada, the fuel tax goes into consolidated revenue and the cost is a line item. Line items are under review constantly, so the government, suffering a deficit, chose a sleight of hand deal where it formed a new corporation, "sold" the ATC system to the newcorp for C$one Billion, and announced separate fees for services. The fuel taxes didn't go away nor even reduced - they are still there so, in fact, the creation of NavCanada a) reduced the federal deficit that year by $one Billion, and the aviation users now have a permanent tax increase in the form of a user fee.
I flew to Springbank (Calgary) and three months later got a bill from NavCanada for a flight to Edmonton. Hang on, I didn't fly to Edmonton. Obviously, someone quoted my aircraft registration and NavCanada was hostile.
I deeply resent this double taxation. I agree that a service earns an offsetting fee, but that isn't how it works in Canada. Services are there for the commercial, passenger carrying airliners, not for General Aviation, as has been made clear by denying services when they are busy. They don't deny the airlines, they deny GA. Yet I still get billed, and my fuel price contains the tax that used to pay for the ATC.
It stinks! A government con game.

Posted by: Pat Barry | August 28, 2017 4:18 PM    Report this comment

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