Canada sets emergency response rules at 25 more airports

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The Canadian government plans to apply a new rule to set specific standards for aircraft emergency response services at the country’s 25 busiest medium-sized airports.

Canada’s transport minister David Collenette says the government will go ahead with a new aircraft emergency intervention services (AEIS) regulation to require emergency response services to be provided at all Canadian airports handling more than 2,800 passenger flights per year by aircraft seating 20 or more passengers.

The new AEIS regulation will also establish specific emergency response standards for these airports, of which Transport Canada believes there are 25 today. The rule will build on existing Canadian Aviation Regulations (CAR) 303, which already applies to Canada’s 28 largest commercial airports, as well as the government’s requirement for all airports domestically to prepare emergency response plans to Transport Canada’s approval.

Transport Canada says that in adding to the existing requirements the new AEIS rule for medium-sized airports will extend Canada’s emergency response coverage to 96% of the country’s flying public.

The new AEIS regulation will require each airport to have:

  1. A communication and alerting system
  2. A vehicle that can deliver 2,400l of firefighting foam and 135kg of dry chemical extinguisher
  3. A firm 5min response time from the alarm is sounded to the time the vehicle reaches the mid-point of the furthest runway, for either on-site or off-site aircraft emergency intervention
  4. A signed agreement with an off-site community-based provider of emergency response services
  5. Coverage of 100% of operations involving aircraft seating 20 or more passengers
  6. Trained personnel at the airport during its hours of operation to operate the AEIS equipment
  7. A person on-site during airliner arrivals and departures to alert community firefighters, in cases where an airport has agreed community firefighting service
  8. Its AEIS-providing personnel trained according to standards set by Transport Canada.

Transport Canada has expanded its Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP) by C$15 million ($9.7 million) to help airports comply with the new regulation, estimating that the 25 airports added to the AEIS compliance list will need a total of C$11 million in start-up costs to put it into effect. The department is making available to these airports another C$1 million a year for capital-equipment spending for the AEIS program.

However, Transport Canada estimates each airport will also need to spend about C$35,000 a year in AEIS operating costs – but it says that since each handles 2,800 passenger flights or more a year, “these airports generate sufficient revenues to cover the ongoing operating costs imposed by this regulation”.

The new rule will require all Canadian airports that at present are non-AEIS to gather statistics on aircraft movements to determine if they are affected by the regulation. If an airport finds it does have to comply, it has a further year to acquire the necessary equipment and train personnel. Some of the 25 airports known to fall under the AEIS umbrella already have services in place that meet the new requirements, says Transport Canada.

Transport Canada will continue to conduct its regular audit and inspection program of AEIS compliance but will also formally review the full range of emergency response services at airports in three years’ time.

Airports that Transport Canada believes are likely to be affected by the new rule, on the basis of their aircraft movement statistics, include Deer Lake and Wabush in Newfoundland and Labrador; Sydney, Nova Scotia; Kuujjuaq, Kuujjuarapik, Mont-Joli, Rouyn, Sept-Iles and Val-d’Or in Quebec; and Hamilton, Moosonee and Timmins in Ontario.

Also potentially affected are the airports serving Thompson, Manitoba; Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray in Alberta; Abbotsford, Campbell River, Fort St John, Kamloops, Nanaimo and Terrace in British Columbia; Whithorse in Yukon; and Arviat, Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet in Nunavut.