Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Transport Canada - Aviation Safety Letter COPA Corner—Chief Pilot

COPA Corner—Chief Pilot

by John Quarterman, Manager, Member Assistance and Programs, Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA)

Canadian Owners and Pilots Association

Around the breakfast table one morning, sitting with the other pilots, we listened as the owner of a local one-man vintage-aircraft sightseeing operation explained the basis of the safety management system (SMS) and the way he had implemented it for his flying service.

This particular pilot friend, who takes people up flying from a local field—people who are interested in riding for 15 min in a post-war two-place basic trainer—has implemented a safety management program, keeps and maintains a quality assurance program, and has implemented a recurring air and ground training program for the staff pilot (himself).

The pilots in our group were wide-eyed as this fellow explained setting himself (the staff pilot) a written exam (figuring out the answers to check against the written test results), then writing the exam (as staff pilot), then correcting it from the written series of answers he had created in his persona as chief pilot, then briefing himself on his score.

When asked what the Transport Canada inspectors monitoring his operation thought about this process, our friend admitted, “they do see the funny side of my testing myself,” but pointed out that in this process he is maintaining his proficiency and working hard to make his operation a safe and good example of a commercial air service—that is the objective he must strive for.

Now, although we might smile at the picture I just presented, the tale is an instructive one for many private owners or operations involving partners sharing aircraft. Today, many Canadian pilots don’t own their aircraft outright, but share their aircraft with two, three, or more partners, who in their joint ownership arrangement manage to keep the costs of aircraft ownership down to reasonable levels. Sometimes in these rather informal arrangements, one partner manages the accounting, one manages the maintenance, one does the shared charts and Canada Flight Supplement (CFS) updating and management, etc. Dividing the tasks up and giving each one to a designated person means they are usually done consistently, and the results are better than the alternative.

Although as private owners flying recreationally we are not required to have a chief pilot, an SMS, or a recurrent training program other than the minimum recency requirements we must all satisfy, there is no reason why private pilots can’t take the best concepts and practices from commercial operations and apply them to their single-owner airplane operation or partnership.

As a single owner, try putting on some different “hats,” and take a look at your operation! As a “safety inspector,” try looking at the way you operate, the way you fly, and the way you maintain your aircraft and personal proficiency. Does your operation reflect best practices? Is your record-keeping all that it should be? Is your “staff pilot” in need of some regulatory brushing-up or emergency-situation practice? Try looking at the private-pilot curriculum and checking what is fuzzy or you haven’t practiced for a while. Why not hire an instructor and practice some of these forgotten items like forced approaches or steep turns?

In an organized group of partners, why not choose someone to act as a recurrent training officer, someone who will come up with some interesting flying training exercises and material that the others can share and do. Why not designate a partner to look at the operation from a safety perspective, and develop best means and safety practices for the partnership. In partnerships that are lucky enough to include an instructor or flying professional, why not make a practice of flying with them once or twice a year to sharpen up your skills on a recurring basis, having them point out the bad habits and deficiencies that we usually all develop without practice. In partnerships that don’t include an instructor, why not plan recurrent training days, where everyone takes a turn getting their flying habits scrutinized.

Why not take the story above and develop the concept for your aircraft partnership. It will help your aircraft operation be like the fellow’s in the story above—a conscientious, safe operation!

For more information on COPA, visit:


This article was published by Transport Canada in TP 185 Issue 4/2008 -. Reprinted with permission

Add comment

Security code