The Safety of Air Taxi Operations (SATOPS) Task Force was established in January 1996 following a review of accident data from 1990 through 1995 by Transport Canada Safety and Security senior management. This data indicated that the vast majority of commercial aircraft accidents involve Air Taxi aircraft and that the number of fatal accidents was not improving. For the purposes of this project, Air Taxi aircraft are helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, excluding jets, operated in a commercial air service carrying 9 or fewer passengers or conducting aerial work.
There are approximately 1040 Air Taxi operators currently operating in Canada. Partnership between Transport Canada and the aviation industry was critical to the success of this safety initiative. The joint Transport Canada/aviation industry SATOPS Task Force comprised representatives from the Commercial and Business Aviation, System Safety, and Airworthiness branches of Transport Canada Safety and Security. In addition, the Air Transport Association of Canada, the Alberta Aviation Council, the Canadian Seaplane Pilots Association, the Helicopter Association of Canada and the Northern Air Transport Association were represented.
The Task Force reported to a Steering Committee composed of senior Transport Canada Civil Aviation officials and chaired by the Director General, Civil Aviation. An Executive Advisory Committee comprised of distinguished members of the aviation community was established to give the Task Force an additional industry perspective and to provide oversight for the implementation of the Task Force recommendations.