I am pleased to announce the release of the Safety of Air Taxi Operations Task Force (SATOPS) report. It contains 71 recommendations to improve the safety of the Air Taxi sector of the civil aviation system. I am committed to implementing those recommendations aimed at Transport Canada as determined by the action plan within the implementation phase of the project. I seek an equal assurance from the Air Taxi community and other groups involved in this sector to address the problem areas identified. Only together can we make the required improvements in safety.
Canada enjoys one of the safest aviation systems in the world. However, the number of accidents occurring in Air Taxi operations continues to be of great concern to Transport Canada. The latest figures show that Air Taxi accidents have decreased from the previous five year average of 107.2 to 90 in 1996. Nevertheless, the 1996 figure represents 62% of the total number of accidents in all commercial operations. The number of Air Taxi fatal accidents and fatalities has decreased from 23 fatal accidents and 53 fatalities in 1995 to 20 fatal accidents and 34 fatalities in 1996.
This represents 95% of the total number of fatal accidents and fatalities in all commercial operations, an increase from 1995 when the percentage was 94%. Compare this to the United States where there were 88 Air Taxi accidents in 1996, 28 of them fatal with 61 fatalities. Clearly, this comparison is not favourable, given that the U.S. Air Taxi industry is at least five times larger than Canada's.
"The actions and attitudes of operating personnel are a reflection on those who employ and represent them." This quotation from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Human Factors Digest, Management & Organization, Management's Role in Safety, cannot be stressed strongly enough. A safe air operator must be led by management who are committed to safety in every aspect of day-to-day operations. Management must actively establish and sustain a safety culture within the company based on open communication and mutual respect.
Transport Canada does not believe that an increase in the regulations will necessarily result in a decrease in the number of accidents. A disregard of the regulations has often been found to be the initiating event in accidents. The Canadian Aviation Regulations provide an excellent "code of conduct" for the aviation industry. While the majority may operate within the boundaries of the regulations, strong regulatory action must and will be taken against the minority who disregard the regulations. What is required is to improve our attitudes toward safe operations and to adopt a better safety culture within the Air Taxi industry.
The SATOPS project has from the beginning been a partnership between Transport Canada and the aviation industry. This project would not have been possible without the Air Taxi community's participation. I wish to thank all of you who took the time to attend a SATOPS meeting or send in your comments from the Feedback questionnaire. Clearly, this partnership must continue to address the recommendations contained in the report and to ultimately reduce the number of accidents in Air Taxi operations.
NAV CANADA, the Transportation Safety Board and the aviation associations will be consulted in the development of an implementation plan to address the SATOPS recommendations. A status report will be published every six months to track the ongoing progress of the implementation plan and to advise industry of the status of the recommendations. SATOPS information will also be available on the Transport Canada Civil Aviation Website at http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/menu.htm. To show our commitment to this safety initiative, Transport Canada has set a goal to reduce the Air Taxi accident five year average by one half by the year 2005. This can only be done with the full and active participation of everyone in the Air Taxi industry; owners, managers, all operational personnel, air operator associations, the insurance industry, air operator clients, NAV CANADA, the Transportation Safety Board and Transport Canada.
I challenge you to participate and to share in our commitment in achieving this goal.