Transport Minister Marc Garneau says that although Canada’s aviation safety record is “a very good one,” he is optimistic that a two-day closed workshop on the operational fitness of air crews can only make that record better.
“When we’re talking about the safety of air passengers it’s very important for us to be looking at the air crew to be fit to fly,” he told reporters on Parliament Hill the day before the June 6 to 7 workshop began. “They do a very good job, but in the safety business you should always be looking for better ways to increase safety.”
He said the idea of a workshop with representatives of the carriers and pilots as well as health professionals flowed from an incident earlier this year in which a Sunwing charter pilot stumbled into his cockpit and appeared to pass out. Miroslav Gronych, a Slovakian in Canada on a work visa, pleaded guilty to being impaired while in control of an aircraft.
Last summer, two Canadian-licensed Air Transat pilots were charged by Scottish authorities after blood alcohol tests confirmed they had exceeded permissible limits while preparing for a flight to Toronto from Glasgow.
“As a result of what happened with the Sunwing incident last February in Calgary, I decided that it would be a good idea to bring together health experts, the pilots and the airlines to have a two-day workshop to look at ways to have discussions about how we can improve safety,” said Garneau, who had expressed his concern in writing to all Canadian carriers. He said the response “satisfied me that good procedures are in place.”
A Transport Canada briefing note dated Jan. 12, 2017, obtained by the CBC through an Access to Information Act request, explained that the department is “developing a policy for the minister’s consideration for timely action against pilots caught working under the influence, while at the same time supporting the wellness programs that airlines have in place for those with alcohol or drug abuse issues.”
Asked June 5 whether he was considering random testing of air crews, Garneau said he would rather wait for whatever comes out of the workshop in Gatineau, Que., just across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill.
“There is a system in place with each of the airlines to make sure that the pilots are fit to fly. . . . Passengers want to know that when they get on an airplane the crew that’s going to take them from A to B is ready to do that. That’s what we call ‘fit to fly’ and I think the record here in Canada is a very good one, but I’m always looking for ways to make it even better.”
– See more at: https://www.skiesmag.com/news/transport-minister-supports-operational-fitness-workshop/#sthash.oPoOzg1M.dpuf