COMMERCIAL AND BUSINESS
AVIATION ADVISORY CIRCULAR
Air Operators' Responsibilities with Respect to Potable Water Systems On Board Aircraft
This Commercial and Business Aviation Advisory Circular (CBAAC) is intended to remind, or inform, air operators of their responsibilities with respect to potable water systems on board their aircraft.
- Canada Labour Code, Part II, section 124
- Canada Labour Code, Part II, paragraph 125(1)(j)
- Aviation Occupational Safety and Health Regulations, section 4.9
- Department of Health Act, paragraph 4(2)(e)
- Potable Water Regulations for Common Carriers, sections 5, 6 and 7
The Canada Labour Code, Part II, is the legislation, which ensures that the health and safety of all employees, who are under federal jurisdiction while at work, is protected. At the same time, the Department of Health Act is the legislation responsible for the protection of public health on aircraft.
Therefore, air operators have regulated responsibilities to both their employees and passengers to ensure that potable water systems on board their aircraft are installed and maintained in the manner prescribed.
The installation and maintenance of potable water systems on board aircraft is regulated under the subsections related specifically to ongoing maintenance requirements:
- 6(d) subject to paragraph (f), clean, sterilize with live steam or a chlorine solution and rinse with potable water at least once a month the potable water system that is being used;
- 6(e) empty, clean, sterilize with live steam or a chlorine solution and rinse with potable water at least once every two weeks the water coolers and other chilling devices of the potable water system that is being used;
It is important to note that the above applies to all makes and models of potable water systems on board aircraft, and that from a regulatory perspective, these requirements take precedence over specific ongoing maintenance programs recommended by the potable water system manufacturers.
Air operators with potable water systems on board their aircraft are to ensure they are in compliance with the Potable Water Regulations for Common Carriers. Additionally, Health Canada is recommending that air operators develop and adhere to a comprehensive Water Quality Management Program, which would deal not only with potable water quality on board aircraft, but as well during transfer from source to airport and from airport to aircraft.
Compliance with federal legislation and regulations is viewed by both Transport Canada and Health Canada as the minimum acceptable measures an air operator must take with respect to meeting their potable water due diligence responsibilities. A documented Water Quality Management Program, outlining the air operator's practices and procedures concerning the management of potable water is highly recommended.
The cost of non-compliance with federal legislation and regulations cannot be viewed by air operators as being limited to the fines set out in the Canada Labour Code and the Potable Water Regulations for Common Carriers. Other areas of concern that need to be considered by air operators are the expenses that would be incurred should a flight be delayed or cancelled as a result of a failed inspection of a potable water system on board one of their aircraft. There are also intangible costs relating to the loss of revenue resulting from negative publicity that could conceivably be generated from the above-described scenario.
Health Canada is developing a voluntary compliance monitoring program, to help protect the health of the traveling public, as per their Department of Health Act mandate. Air operators are therefore encouraged to become proactive in their approach to managing their potable water responsibilities on board aircraft, through the development of a Water Quality Management Program. By doing so, air operators would be well positioned when Health Canada visits them to present their proposed voluntary compliance program.
The Canada Labour Code, and the Aviation Occupational Safety and Health Regulations, can be viewed in their entirety at the following website:
The Department of Health Act is available at:
and the Potable Water Regulations for Common Carriers can be viewed at:
Commercial & Business Aviation
Commercial & Business Aviation Advisory Circulars (CBAAC) are intended to provide information and guidance regarding operational matters. A CBAAC may describe an acceptable, but not the only, means of demonstrating compliance with existing regulations. CBAACs in and of themselves do not change, create any additional, authorize changes in, or permit deviations from regulatory requirements.