Evidence of meeting #56 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was airports.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Glenn Mahon  Director of Operations, St. John's International Airport, Atlantic Canada Airports Association
Steve Maybee  Vice-President of Operations, Edmonton Airports, Canadian Airports Council
Harry Gow  Immediate Past President, National, Transport Action Canada
Mark Beauregard  Vice-President, Regulatory Affairs, Aerospace Industries Association of Canada
Robert Donald  Executive Director, Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace
Robert Deluce  President and Chief Executive Officer, Porter Airlines Inc.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

We'll talk later.

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Vice-Chair Conservative Luc Berthold

Thank you very much.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Transport has a role in this as well.

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

It is now over to Mr. Iacono for six minutes.

May 4th, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to thank the witnesses for being here today.

This is an issue we could spend all day talking about, but I am going to ask that you keep your answers short. That will give us an idea of things, at least. I encourage you to send the committee more detailed information by email, if you like.

My first question is for Mr. Beauregard and Mr. Donald.

We talked a lot about safety as it relates to manoeuvres, pilot working conditions, and safety management systems, but very little about the aircraft themselves. I'd like to hear your view, as a member of the aerospace industry, on how reliable and safe the aircraft currently operating in Canada are. What measures need to be implemented to make sure the aircraft taking off are in good condition?

12:45 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace

Robert Donald

You go first, Mark. No need to thank me.

12:45 p.m.

A voice

Give short answers, please.

12:45 p.m.

Vice-President, Regulatory Affairs, Aerospace Industries Association of Canada

Mark Beauregard

First of all, in Canada, some of the fleet of aircraft is domestically manufactured, but a lot of it is foreign manufactured by U.S. and European companies. All major jurisdictions have very strict certification standards. From a product perspective, they're very rigorously examined. From the perspective of what I call “continued air worthiness”, whether the products already here are properly maintained and therefore safe, I would say yes, that Canada does in fact have very high standards for the maintenance of its aircraft. The standards that Transport Canada imposes are, in fact, very high. Frankly, I have great faith in the—

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Thank you.

Go ahead, Mr. Donald.

12:45 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace

Robert Donald

It's about ensuring airline staff have the appropriate training and quality assurance training. It's the same thing for the regulators and the inspectors, ensuring that they are properly trained, know what they're looking for, and have the appropriate skills to do the inspections.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Do you think current regulations are sufficient to ensure that the planes in the air are in good working condition? Should the regulations be improved?

12:45 p.m.

Vice-President, Regulatory Affairs, Aerospace Industries Association of Canada

Mark Beauregard

Again for existing products that are operating in Canada, there's always room to improve, but our standards are very high. I think some of the prior witnesses have said that the accident rates are going down, and that is absolutely true. The system is very safe, in my opinion.

12:45 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace

Robert Donald

It's not our area of expertise but from everything we hear anecdotally from those who say it is, yes, we do have high standards, but I can't comment on what changes would help.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

My next question is for you, Mr. Deluce.

You were very clear in your remarks that you disagreed with the regulatory changes Transport Canada wants to make.

U.S. regulations on crew fatigue are more stringent than those Transport Canada wants to introduce. Would Canada be as competitive vis-à-vis the U.S. under the proposed regulations? Canada's regulatory regime is a bit different from the U.S.'s in that it is not as stringent. What do you make of that?

12:45 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Porter Airlines Inc.

Robert Deluce

In the case of the U.S., the FAA has taken a different tack and targeted different areas of the industry and have come up with appropriate solutions to fit those different types of operations. That's a practical and pragmatic approach to it.

In Canada one-size-fits-all is embedded in the notice of intent, and that's ill-advised in our view. It will make us uncompetitive with the U.S. and not as narrowly focused on what should be our primary objective, and that's increasing safety.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Deluce, I encourage you to send us your suggestion in writing. You said a one-size-fits-all solution wasn't appropriate for your company. What kind of regulatory approach, then, would work best for you?

Switching gears, I'd like to know whether you've put a safety management system in place. If so, have you found that it has made you a safer airline?

12:45 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Porter Airlines Inc.

Robert Deluce

We have a safety management system in place. We were the first 705 carrier to be fully compliant. We weren't grandfathered as carriers like Air Canada and WestJet were, because they were operating prior to that regulation or that system's coming into place. We have been fully compliant since we started operating and we fully believe in SMS. We think it's made our workplace more transparent, more open. It's made everyone more accountable, and I think as a result the safety record has been good and our passengers are beneficiaries along with our crews and everybody else.

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Thank you, Mr. Deluce. I hope you will be able to send us a proposal.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Vice-Chair Conservative Luc Berthold

Thank you, Mr. Iacono.

Mr. Barlow, you have six minutes. Please go ahead.

12:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Porter Airlines Inc.

Robert Deluce

I'd be happy to do that.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you to our witnesses for being here with us today. They gave us some great information.

Mr. Deluce, I was interested in your comments on the potential costs to your business of pilot fatigue. That was a significant issue for us in Alberta as well—anywhere from helicopter companies working on forest fires and search and rescue, to the airlines that are shuttling people back and forth to the oil sands. It is going to be very difficult for them to address some of these pilot fatigue issues. I was interested in the numbers you had put out, that the changes could perhaps cost your company up to $6 million a year.

But when I was thinking about it and you were mentioning that they haven't really listened to your input on that, and we were talking about piloting companies up to the oil sands, I'm was curious if there had been any consultation with Porter and your company when the Liberal government imposed a carbon tax. Was there consultation, and have you costed what having to absorb the carbon tax is going to cost your business on an annual basis?

12:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Porter Airlines Inc.

Robert Deluce

There was no direct consultation on that particular issue. I'm not sure that we expected it. I think the consultation probably was a bit broader and encompassed a wide cross-section of companies. Our focus has been more on what we could do environmentally with respect to the environment we're directly involved in. So it's more noise and aircraft that are fuel efficient and environmentally friendly. That's where we focus our energy.

We felt we were consulted with respect to the crew fatigue. But we did not feel that many of the recommendations, if any, that were made by the industry in total were actually listened to, or they certainly didn't manifest themselves in any real changes to the notice of intent.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

If you potentially have to absorb $6 million in additional costs to your business, are you saying that you don't know what the cost of the carbon tax will be, or has Porter costed that out? How difficult is it going to be for smaller airlines in Canada to be able to stay operating when they have to absorb some of these new costs?

12:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Porter Airlines Inc.

Robert Deluce

I'd be happy to provide some feedback on that. I think we have measured that, but quite frankly, I came more prepared to talk on the crew management issue. Although there was a wide variety of options available to us in terms of what we would address, I really did focus more on that issue than on anything else.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Having said that, Mr. Deluce, and recognizing the additional costs that will accrue for your business, you will need to find new business and new opportunities to expand your operation. I would assume one of those would be the opportunity at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. With the C-series aircraft now approved to land at London City Airport, is this something you'd like to see the federal government, the Liberal government, revisit and withdraw its veto of the expansion of Billy Bishop?