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Globalization and Canada's Aviation Regulations

With the advent of 'Globalization', a term generally interpreted as a positive thing, it is likely that those with more to lose will indeed lose more than those with nothing to lose. As aviation procedures are 'harmonized' by regulators in their effort to attain a world-wide standard, it is always easier to achieve consensus by lessening expectations and associated freedoms.

To understand what is currently happening to aviation in Canada it is interesting to speculate on the effect foreign cultures are having and will continue to have on Canada's owners and pilots.

My recent work at ICAO and my visits to other parts of the world have led me to the conclusion that there are in fact three basic cultures in the world as regards aviation. The choice of three may at first appear to be an over-simplification, but think about it. These conceptual models can be summarized and in their essence their perspective is:

Model 1): People are not permitted to fly;
Model 2): Everyone is permitted to fly;
Model 3): If we have enough rules, then people may fly.

Model 1 is found in the majority of the world, particularly in dictatorial, dogmatic or paternalistic cultures. Leaders in these cultures generally discourage that people communicate - be it by good roads, good telephone system, permitting ham radio, television (electric power), free print media, or travel by air. The argument that there is no flying in such countries due to economics does not wash because these countries always have a segment of their population that can afford flight, and furthermore, in these same countries even ultralights often are not permitted. I have observed at ICAO that the most constrictive proposals against aviation tend to come from States which do not have a healthy General Aviation industry. "Of course you may not fly."

Model 2 is operational here in North America. Our young history is one of freedom and of individualism. We are prone to accept, and to be responsible for, our own individual state and actions. Traditionally we tend not to point first to the law when trying to decide if we may or may not carry out a reasonable activity. As well, we have had a pragmatic need for our aviation activity. The result has been that we have enjoyed significant liberties in our aviation activities, not found elsewhere, and looked upon with some envy by most others. "Everyone has the right to fly."

Model 3 is in general use throughout Europe. As are their forests and landscape, their airspace and its operating procedures are cultivated, organized and enforced in great detail. An example is that of Germany where you may not fly to or from an airport which is unattended. The airport manager must be present. Another example is that of a national authority closing all General Aviation airports in order to assure the public's security during a major international event. This is a case of security at any price. Such decisions to close down all General Aviation during major events have in fact been taken without proper justification, without prior risk analysis. Such a broad brush approach appears to North American eyes to be the expedient way out for officials charged with ensuring national security. Such an approach, no matter how well intentioned, is not sustainable - not for airlines nor for General Aviation. Further, there are those European States who typically have not accepted American STCs, even on American-produced aircraft. Instead, the Europeans demand the generation of their own paperwork. "You may fly if we, the authorities, have very detailed regulations to ensure a high degree of control over what you do."

Canadian aviators no longer live uninfluenced by the rest of the world. As migration moves people about, so are attitudes imported and exported. Some of this exchange is unintentional, but much of it is intentional - as in the case of 'harmonization' of aviation regulations. Much of what is imported is beneficial to our country; however there is some which is not. For example, we must remain vigilant that as we come under the influence of the international community, the freedoms we as a nation have so carefully cultivated - freedoms won at great cost - remain intact. Our freedom to fly is but one example of an attitude inherent in the Canadian psyche. We consider our idea of individual freedom to be one of the great ideas of modern civilization. We cannot allow this powerful idea to erode. It must not erode, because we believe that with freedom comes increased potential for peace and prosperity. Rather than allowing less free nations to dilute our freedoms, it behooves us as a free people to encourage the growth of freedoms elsewhere. Because we prize freedom, influences from outside our own country that impact on our freedoms should first be challenged and proven in our own context before they are assimilated.

IAOPA (The International Council of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations) is the only international organization devoted to fostering freedom to fly within the world-wide General Aviation community. It is privileged to have a voice at ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, where world-wide aviation regulations (and the harmonizing of) are hammered out. For this reason, COPA - Canada's Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association - is happy to actively participate in IAOPA. COPA believes in supporting and nurturing freedom of flight globally and in encouraging other nations to be accountable for their actions concerning aviation. By increasing freedoms internationally, we ensure that we in Canada are protected from the blight of over-regulation as it often is practiced elsewhere.

Let us be vigilant of our Canadian acquired rights, our freedom to fly, and guard these freedoms jealously and aggressively. Support your respective pilot organizations as they attempt to ensure that our own aviation bureaucrats and administrators remain accountable for their attitudes and actions.

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Frank Hofmann
IAOPA Representative to ICAO
COPA Secretary and Quebec Director
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