Aviation offences and enforcement

Aviation safety is largely achieved by the aviation community through voluntary compliance with the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs). When voluntary compliance is not forthcoming, enforcement action can be required to ensure public safety.

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Aviation enforcement action summaries

Responsibilities and obligations

The Minister of Transport is responsible for the development of regulations and standards, licensing and certification, promotion and security of services relating to aeronautics and for ensuring aviation safety.

As a contracting State of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Canada has an obligation to oversee the safe and efficient operation of all aviation activity for which it is responsible. Canada has agreed to the application of Article 12 of the ICAO Convention, Rules of the Air, which simply directs that each contracting State adopt measures to ensure that every aircraft flying over or manoeuvring within its territory and every aircraft carrying it's nationality mark, wherever such aircraft may be, shall comply with the rules and regulations relating to the flight. As well each contracting State should undertake to insure the prosecution of all persons violating applicable regulations.

Canadian Aeronautics Legislation comprises the Aeronautics Act and the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs). The legislation was created to protect the public from potentially unsafe practices and harmful situations resulting from aviation related activities.

Aviation Enforcement Philosophy

Transport Canada's aviation enforcement policy recognizes the fact that “voluntary compliance” with the regulations is the most progressive and effective approach to achieving aviation safety. It is assumed that most people are rational, responsible, law abiding citizens in their own right and self-interest, and share an interest and commitment to the aviation community. However, for those individuals in the aviation community who are less motivated by such factors as common sense, personal and civil responsibility, pride and professionalism, and especially safety, they will become the focus for enforcement action.

Aviation Enforcement Policy

Fairness and Firmness are the key words in defining the enforcement policy. Primarily public safety and, additionally, economic consequences are considered when determining the appropriate enforcement action to pursue.

Specific courses of action have been established to ensure fairness in the enforcement process and uniformity in the selection of the appropriate deterrent. These actions include:

  • providing “oral counselling” for minor violations where there is no threat to aviation safety
  • informing offenders of their right to have penalties reviewed by the Civil Aviation Tribunal TATC , and independent quasi-judicial body separate from Transport Canada
  • encouraging open communication between alleged offenders and enforcement inspectors, especially in cases where there may be mitigating circumstances

Dealing with an alleged violation of the air regulations

As previously mentioned the detection of a possible violation of the air regulations may result from a citizen’s complaint, an infraction report forwarded by Air Traffic Services, a routine inspection conducted by Transport Canada (TC) personnel or observations by TC inspectors engaged in field operations. Should a TC inspector observe an individual committing a violation of the regulations, the inspector has the authority to take immediate action. If the violation is minor in nature and inadvertent, or is a safety related violation where there is no direct flight safety hazard, the inspector may simply counsel the individual orally. This action provides the document holder with immediate feedback on the safety aspect of the incident and the necessity for compliance with the regulations.

When a TC inspector observes or is apprised of a possible violation for which Oral Counselling is inappropriate, the inspector should complete a Detection Notice form as the first step in the initial enforcement process, and forward the Detection Notice to the respective Regional Aviation Enforcement Office. The Regional Manager of Aviation Enforcement (RMAE) will review all reports and establish priorities for initiating a comprehensive investigation into alleged violations, depending on the seriousness of the violation and its impact on aviation safety.

Enforcement actions

Upon completion of an investigation the RMAE will review the case to determine the appropriate deterrent action to impose if the evidence indicates that an individual has contravened a provision of the Aeronautics Act or the CARs . This decision may significantly affect the individual’s attitude towards aviation safety and voluntary compliance in the future.

The RMAE will decide whether to proceed administratively or judicially. Judicial action involves the prosecution of the alleged offender in the criminal courts and is only applicable to a few of the provisions of the Aeronautics Act and the CARs . Administrative action comprises all other measures taken by the Minister pursuant to the provisions of the Aeronautics Act, and monetary penalties.

We promote and apply a policy of fairness and firmness by:

  • encouraging open communication between alleged offenders and enforcement inspectors, especially in cases where there are mitigating circumstances;
  • providing oral counselling for minor violations where there is no threat to aviation safety;
  • informing offenders of their right to have penalties reviewed by the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada TATC. The TATC is an independent quasi-judicial body separate from Transport Canada; and
  • ensuring that repeat offenders and those who willfully disregard aviation safety are dealt with firmly.

Prevention

We promote voluntary compliance through:

  • education
  • publicity
  • co-operation and consultation with the aviation community
  • routine inspections and field operations

Detection

We learn of possible violations of the regulations through:

  • routine inspections
  • field operations conducted by civil aviation safety inspectors
  • police reports
  • air traffic service personnel
  • aircraft accident investigations
  • public complaints

Investigation

We investigate occurrences and alleged violations of the regulations to ascertain whether or not a violation has occurred.

Deterrence

An appropriate penalty must be considered once an investigation has determined that a violation has occurred.

When determining the appropriate penalty, we consider the seriousness of the violation.

Depending on the violation, deterrent action may include:

  • oral counselling
  • a monetary penalty
  • a document suspension
  • prosecution

For repeated and deliberate violations where aviation safety is jeopardized, actions may include:

  • increased monetary penalties
  • suspension of aviation documents
  • court-imposed fines
  • jail terms
  • forfeiture of aircraft

Report a violation

You can call either contact:

There is no legal obligation to report violations. However, aviation safety is a shared commitment and responsibility. It is in everyone's best interests that violations be reported.

Contact us

Aviation Enforcement contacts

  •  

    Regional Manager, Enforcement

    Denis Doucet
    denis.doucet@tc.gc.ca

    Tel: 506-851-6736
    Fax: 506-851-2190

    Mailing Address:

    Transport Canada
    P.O. Box 42
    Moncton, NB
    E1C 8K6

    Office Address:

    95 Foundry Street, 6th Floor
    Moncton, NB
    E1C 5H7