A major bureaucratic change in Canada’s approach to aviation security occurred April 1, when the Transport Ministry announced creation of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, established as part of the Budget Implementation Act, 2001 (Bill C-49).
Transport Canada will regulate and monitor the new authority, which will assume full responsibility for pre-board screening and related security at 89 designated Canadian airports.
The Canadian Parliament was eager to have the legislation "proclaimed" (in force) by April 1, the start of the government’s fiscal year and the date that a hefty Can.$24-per-round-trip Traveller’s Security Charge (dubbed by the Canadian press the "terrorist tax") would go into effect to help pay for security improvements. For that reason, ALPA’s concerns regarding the somewhat vague mandate of the new security authority and other perceived weaknesses in the legislation were overlooked in the final version.
But the union’s persistence in being included in stakeholder discussions on the whole range of security issues has paid off.
At the urging of ALPA and other groups, Transport Minister David Collenette agreed that at least one labor representative will serve on CATSA’s 11-member Board of Directors, and the Minister asked for an ALPA pilot nominee to the Board.
Capt. Michael Lynch (Ret.), past president of the ALPA Canada Board and a 35-year veteran of Canadian Airlines, was nominated to that position.
In the 9 months since Sept. 11, 2001, ALPA staff and pilot volunteers in Canada have continued to provide input to TC’s Aviation Security Advisory Committee and its working groups on airport and aircraft operations security. Capt. Tim Halen (at that time, flying Air Canada Regional), who served on the Aircraft Operations Working Group, reported that in mid-March it finalized a report containing 26 different recommendations on shoring up the aircraft environment, from locks on flight deck doors to searches of food and beverage containers that ground crews place aboard airplanes.
Some of these recommendations have already made positive steps toward implementation.
On April 10, Minister Collenette announced finalization of new regulations to reinforce cockpit doors on Canadian-registered aircraft. The new regulations mandated that airlines install internal locking devices on flight compartment doors by May 1, 2002, and comply with new intrusion-resistance requirements by April 9, 2003. The regulations apply to passenger and cargo airplanes with a maximum certificated takeoff weight of more than 8,618 kg and to airplanes that have a capacity of 20 or more passengers.
With regard to airports, the Airport Security Working Group issued an interim report on March 22 with 18 additional recommended fixes. The group met again in late April, discussing issues related to a universal pass system and pilot screening.
Reports from both Working Groups will be reviewed at an ASAC meeting in June, and the Committee is expected to set a timeline on at least some of the recommendations, establishing which ones can be accomplished in the short term (6 months) versus longer term.
Art LaFlamme, ALPA’s safety and legislative coordinator for Canadian operations and former director general for civil aviation for Transport Canada, notes that, overall, ALPA was "actively pursuing" action by the Canadian government on four separate fronts:
1. revising the common strategy for flight crews to use in dealing with threats to the cockpit;
2. developing a smart card system for flight crews to parallel the system under discussion in the United States;
3. providing more-stringent controls on aircraft access by persons other than flight crews and passengers;
4. developing an air marshal program to provide armed law enforcement personnel on flights; and
5. improving jumpseat access for ALPA members.
In mid-January, the Federal Aviation Administration adopted a common strategy that provides sweeping changes in the way that U.S. flight crews will be taught to address threats to the flight deck, from how to deal with a disruptive passenger to how to protect against a suicidal terrorist. In Canada, Transport Canada is considering two separate initiatives for developing a similar strategy to fit the "Canadian context," and ALPA is pressing its case to be included in those endeavors.
Transport Canada’s Civil Aviation and Security directorates are both working to address procedural and training issues for Canadian airlines and their crew members. In early April, Capt. Kent Hardisty, president of ALPA’s Canada Board, wrote to Assistant Deputy Minister for Safety and Security William J.S. Elliott, asking that ALPA be kept informed about the status of the discussions and also urging that a cross-sectional working group be formed "to pull these plans together and devise coordinated procedures and training."
As in the United States, scattered initiatives for developing reliable identification media for transportation workers were under way before September 11. Safety representatives in Canada are now really pressing for a uniform, coordinated system that, in the best of all worlds, would allow U.S. pilots to use their cards at Canadian airports, and vice versa. Much work needs to be done.
Capt. Hardisty wrote to Canadian officials, laying out progress on the U.S. system and urging that an integrated system compatible with what is being developed in the United States under the "TWIC" label (see "ALPA, Industry Push for ‘Smart Card’ Access-Control IDs," page 11) be explored as a "high priority."
Capt. Hardisty noted that initiatives were already under way in Canada to use "smart card" technology at certain airports, such as at Thunder Bay, where a smart card and facial recognition system is being implemented. The Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency is also studying the technology to facilitate its work at the border and ports of entry, he added. "Rather than having a hodgepodge of perhaps incompatible systems across Canada that would stifle the free flow of goods and people," Capt. Hardisty suggested that Transport Canada form a working group on universal access "to devise the standards for a national system and to communicate and coordinate with U.S. authorities and key Canadian departments and agencies."
First Officer Craig Hall (Air Canada Jazz), who
served on the Airport Security Working Group, notes that, as in the United
States, pilots in Canada are "extremely concerned about devising a system
whereby they can gain access to their aircraft in a free and convenient manner.
It’s simply an ‘access to the workplace’ issue." Attempts to close up
"holes" in the safety net have sometimes had the effect of entangling
and of leading to considerable frustration.
The Working Group, F/O Hall says, has argued strongly for adoption of a universal pass system to replace the often ineffective system that controls access to restricted areas of Canadian airports at present. The new system would use "uniform, reliable, technologically enhanced identification media," with oversight provided by a centralized management system.
Regarding flightcrew member screening, F/O Hall notes that among the Working Group’s recommendations is one that directs that, where alternate routes to entering the "sterile" area of an airport are available, uniformed, on duty flightcrew members should be permitted to use those access points, subject to verification of their security pass.
ALPA, LaFlamme notes, has assembled "a coalition of like-minded organizations" on the subject—the Air Canada Pilots Association, the Air Transport Association of Canada, the Quebec Air Transport Association, the Canadian Business Aircraft Association, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents flight attendants, and others—to meet on the issues of airport security access and control. The group met on April 24 to discuss common concerns and to begin to develop a strategy to approach Transport Canada and other organizations to act. The consensus was that the coalition would press the Minister to make CATSA responsible for developing and implementing universal access on a priority basis and, in the interim, to have separate screening lines for crew members established at all Canadian airports.
At the Airport Security Working Group meeting of April 29–30, the parties agreed that the recommendation pertaining to the screening of crew members would read as follows: "Transport Canada immediately issue a directive to all local airport authorities or governing bodies that states: ‘Where an alternative method of accessing the sterile area of an airport is available, use of such entrances will be made available to uniformed, on duty, Canadian flight crews (pilots and flight attendants) subject to verification of their Restricted Area Security Pass.’" However, the Canadian Airports Council and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority will be dissenting from this recommendation.
F/O Hall adds that, while "significant progress" has been made on security initiatives in Canada, more pilot volunteers are needed to work on security issues in a country whose land mass is second only to that of Russia. Security coordinators are needed at other Canadian carriers, he notes, adding that the 1,500 Air Canada Jazz pilots alone are "spread from coast to coast."
Since September 11, armed RCMP officers have been traveling undercover on selected Canadian flights to provide security to the cockpit and cabin. ALPA and other stakeholders have been involved in discussions with Transport Canada on establishing "uniform standards, protocols, training, and procedures" for this air marshal program to serve Canadian aviation, LaFlamme says.
Finally, on April 24, after numerous requests from representatives of the pilots and flight attendants unions, Transport Canada arranged a meeting with these groups, including the RCMP. The results of the meeting were positive, with a commitment from Transport Canada to develop standards for procedures and training, to continue to meet with the unions throughout this development phase, and to consider inputs (due May 3) in their development.
In April, Transport Canada adopted rules similar to those of the United States, limiting jumpseat access to pilot employees or code-share partners and only when a seat is not available in the cabin.
ALPA has kept Transport Canada apprised of developments in the United States to review the current restrictions and has requested that Transport Canada parallel the changes that are expected to take place in the near future in the United States.
‘Reasonable and attainable’
While 9/11 forced both U.S. and Canadian airlines to drastically overhaul outmoded rules on aviation security, ALPA has insisted that pilots not be kept at arm’s length while that revision is proceeding. With patience and persistence, the Association is making important inroads to convince policymakers in Canada to include flightcrew members’ input and suggestions as vital links in strengthening the security chain.
ALPA, along with the Air Canada Pilots
Association, "was taken seriously in all of these discussions," says
F/O Hall, who is also the ALPA Canada Board Security chairman and a member of ALPA’s National Security Committee. "ALPA moved into a leadership role in the working groups that are reshaping Canadian air security," he says.
"We’ve been engaged in a twofold exercise," F/O Hall adds, "going through a long, slow process of opening doors and consultation, and making sure that what we’re advising is reasonable and attainable."