Thank you very much, Madam Chair. I want to thank you, and I appreciate the committee's indulgence as I take a few moments to move a motion regarding aviation safety, which was circulated to the members of the committee on January 2.
I'll give you a bit of back story. Nearly two years ago, on June 8, 2017, 21-year-old Alex, along with his girlfriend Sidney, rented a single-engine Piper Warrior from a flight school in Lethbridge, Alberta, and headed for Kamloops, B.C. Alex, being a certified pilot, flew the light aircraft, with Sidney as the sole passenger. After refuelling in Cranbrook, they departed but never arrived at their destination. An 11-day search was conducted over a vast area. During this 11-day period, 18 Royal Canadian Air Force and civil search and rescue aircraft flew a total of 576 hours and covered approximately 37,513 square kilometres. On average, 10 aircraft were deployed each day, with more than 70 Royal Canadian Air Force personnel and 137 volunteer pilots and spotters from civil search and rescue. Despite this extensive search and rescue mission, they were unable to find Alex, Sidney and their aircraft. It was at the end of this extensive search that Alex's father and stepmother, Matthew Simons and Natalie Lindgren, were notified that the emergency locator transmitter, ELT, on board the aircraft failed to activate, thus making the plane impossible to find. Sadly, this happens in 38% of crashes.
ELTs are emergency transmission devices that are carried on board most aircraft. In the event of a crash, ELTs send distress signals on designated frequencies to help search and rescue locate the aircraft and its passengers. ELTs operate on two frequencies: 121.5 megahertz and 406 megahertz.
Since 2009, ELTs that operate at 121.5 megahertz are no longer monitored by satellite systems and are therefore ineffective. However, they are still mandated. Since June 2016, the Transportation Safety Board has put forward seven recommendations with regard to modernizing ELTs, but to date, these recommendations have not been acted upon. In many aircraft accidents, the ELT, if there is one, is damaged to the point that no distress signal can be sent. As a result, a number of light aircraft are never found. This was the case for Alex and Sidney, and it's the case for many others like them.
With this motion, I believe that we have the opportunity to help grieving parents like Matthew and Natalie by undertaking a short study that will help us to better understand the issue and make recommendations to Transport Canada. In particular, the motion requests that the committee look at the benefits, for search and rescue purposes, of using GPS technology that allows an aircraft's position to be determined via satellite navigation and periodically broadcast to a remote tracking system. The idea is that a GPS would be used in conjunction with a modern 406 megahertz ELT on light aircraft.
The chair of the Transportation Safety Board, Kathy Fox, has pointed out that when an aircraft crashes, it needs to be located quickly so that survivors can be rescued. The information that a simple GPS system could provide would empower search and rescue to respond quickly when a crash occurs, and would reduce lengthy searches for lost aircraft, thus saving lives and tax dollars.
In closing, I believe that together we have the opportunity to initiate a very important study in honour of Alex and Sidney, and I hope that all members of the committee would support this motion.
Thank you so much for allowing me to take this time.