Civil Aviation - Oversight Program Description and Delivery - Fiscal Year 2021 to 2022

Table of Contents

  1. 1. Overview of the program, operating context and environment
  2. 2. Considerations and drivers for oversight activities priorities
  3. 3. Oversight delivery in 2021-22
  4. 4. Organizational contact information
  5. Annex A: Definitions

1. Overview of the program, operating context and environment

Transport Canada, Civil Aviation, is the federal body that oversees the aviation industry and its regulatory framework. Civil Aviation has approximately 1300 staff distributed between the Ottawa headquarters and offices in each of the five regions.

Civil Aviation supports aviation safety in this large and diverse system through its national aviation safety program, using a regulatory framework and oversight of industry. As part of our oversight activities, we verify that the aviation industry complies with the regulatory framework through certifications, assessments, validations, inspections and enforcement.

Transport Canada, Civil Aviation, is responsible for overseeing the following areas of industry:

  • Air Navigation Services, operated by NAV CANADA, which is the largest single air navigation service provider in the world
  • 15,000,000 square kilometers of airspace, managed by NAV CANADA
  • Canada’s aerospace design and manufacturing industry
  • 36,875 Canadian registered aircraft
  • 32,549 licensed pilots
  • 16,003 aircraft maintenance engineers
  • 374 approved check pilots
  • 79 design approval representatives
  • 2,524 air carriers (33% Canadian, 67% foreign)
  • 869 Approved maintenance organizations
  • 537 certified aerodromes (airports and heliports)

We continue to transform the future of transportation in Canada through our strategic plan, Transportation 2030. Canadians expect a safe and efficient transportation system that allows them to get to where they need to go each day. Businesses and customers expect a transportation system they can trust to deliver resources and products to global markets and local store shelves on time.

We continue to bring these aspects together so that we are able to effectively:

  • address safety and other transportation risks;
  • respond to industry needs;
  • develop key initiatives with Indigenous communities;
  • address public concerns on the environmental impacts of the transportation sector;
  • address shifting population demographics; and,
  • address increasing volumes of:
  • travellers; and,
  • freight containing dangerous goods.

Key changes in external operating environment

The most notable change in the external operating environment is the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic outbreak, Civil Aviation has consulted and collaborated closely with other Government of Canada departments and agencies, International Civil Aviation Organization, other Aviation Authorities and aviation stakeholders to minimize and mitigate the pandemic's impact on the air transportation system and contribute to the global response to this public health crisis. The result of these efforts is captured in Canada’s Flight Plan for Navigating COVID-19.

Outside of the effects caused by COVID-19 recent years have also seen a rapid rate of technological change within the industry. For example, remote piloted aircraft (drones) may outnumber piloted aircraft in Canada in the near future as the sector has seen unprecedented growth.

Key changes in internal operating environment

Transport Canada, Civil Aviation has continued to update its oversight program. These improvements increase Civil Aviation’s ability to monitor the aviation system and make sure the air sector is safe for the travelling public.

COVID-19 has also effected how we work. The majority of Transport Canada employees continue to work from home in accordance with provincial health measures. Another measure taken to reduce risks from the pandemic is to introduce a remote surveillance framework into the program to compliment on-site surveillance where practical.

2. Considerations and drivers for oversight activities priorities


A normal part of Canada’s aviation industry is that the operating status of aviation companies can change throughout a given year. Each year there are a number of companies whose certificates become invalid for various reasons.

This results in a difference between the numbers of surveillance activities planned versus completed, usually around 10%. Civil Aviation’s new surveillance model gives the flexibility to fill any gaps created with reactive surveillance, which helps address these variances.

Surveillance activities may take longer than planned, usually as a result of areas that don’t comply with regulations and the related work for inspectors. As well, companies can ask Civil Aviation to change a surveillance date. Both these circumstances above can create different results at the end of a quarter; or extend a surveillance’s completion date into the next quarter.

Civil Aviation closely monitors and tracks any differences between planned versus actual inspections, with the goal of completing as many planned surveillance activities as possible.

Drivers for oversight activities priorities

Regulatory Authorizations are typically demand driven. Civil Aviation uses historical data as a predictor of future demand and forecasts expected levels of activity. The 2021/2022 planning forecast numbers are calculated based on the average actual number of Regulatory Authorizations delivered in the previous 3 three Fiscal Years (FY).

The full impact of COVID-19 on demand driven activities is still unknown at this time. There are a number of regulatory exemptions in place to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 which extend the validity period of certain authorizations, which effects the level of demand. However, the department is not expecting significant decrease in the long term. This is because a large percentage of the Regulatory Authorizations performed by Civil Aviation are related to the issuance and renewal of personnel licences as well as medical assessments. It is expected that aviation personnel will want to maintain their licence privilege throughout the current reduction in activity as they have in previous downturns and demand will return as the exemptions expire.

Transport Canada, Civil Aviation's surveillance activities can be either planned or reactive. Reactive surveillance activities are used to follow up on findings from planned surveillance activities, respond to new safety information, aviation accidents, enterprise requests for oversight and activities associated with risk identification.

Civil Aviation uses risk-based approaches to plan surveillance. The risk-based planning method looks at risk across the entire aviation system, as well as peer groups (organizations with similar operating certificates).

The current risk information was gathered and quantified for each peer group, and each organization was assigned a risk value. Organizations with the higher risk levels were added to the annual surveillance plan. The risk-based surveillance methodology uses both quantitative and qualitative indicators. The qualitative indicator is based on survey data. The data focuses on capturing an inspectors’ views on a companies’ level of safety, based on interactions since their last surveillance.

For 2021/2022, Civil Aviation made a decision to plan as if COVID-19 would not affect our ability to complete surveillance. We prioritized surveillance activities based on the following risk factors:

  • qualitative risk assessments from inspectors
  • quantitative risk indicators such as previous surveillance results
  • type of operating certificate (for example, large airline operator versus small aerial work operator)
  • previous safety record
  • inspector intel

3. Oversight delivery in 2021-22

The delivery of oversight activities, such as planned risk-based inspections and reactive inspections, will be reported through the Canadian Center on Transportation Data (CCTD).

4. Organizational contact information

Transport Canada welcomes your comments on this report.


Annex A: Definitions

Required Field Description
Oversight How Transport Canada promotes, monitors or enforces compliance with our safety and security requirements.
Regulatory authorizations Given when a regulated party (for example, a railway company or vehicle manufacturer) applies for permission to do a regulated activity, or be exempt from it. We may give permission in various forms, including a permit, licence or certification. Transport Canada does not control the number of regulatory authorizations per planning cycle.

A documented, formal examination of industry compliance with Canadian transportation safety and security rules, regulations and requirements. Authorized Transport Canada officials record the results of each inspection. For the purposes of this document, audits are a type of inspection.

*Includes pre-site, onsite, and post-site inspection and oversight activities. Is complete when the inspector submits an approved inspection or oversight activities report. Does not include follow-up action, quality control checks or outreach activities.

Planned, risk-based inspections

All inspections Transport Canada initially commits to doing in a given planning cycle. The SO3 Management Board may authorize updates as needed.

*Include inspections that are announced (and expected), and those that are unannounced. Does not include:

  • estimated numbers of demand-driven activities, such as regulatory authorizations
  • “reactive” or “opportunity” inspections that happen because of a change in oversight
Follow-up activities

Arise from findings of an initial inspection. May include an on-site inspection, requests for more information, or enhanced monitoring.

*Do not include enforcement.

Other activities Oversight activities that Transport Canada did not initially commit to in a planning cycle, and are not a follow-up to an inspection or audit.

Measures we use to enforce requirements and compel compliance. For example:

  • letters of non-compliance
  • directions or orders
  • ticketing
  • notices of violation
  • administrative monetary penalties
  • prosecutions
  • suspensions or cancellations of certificates or authorizations
Education, outreach and awareness How we educate the public, and encourage people and companies to comply with the law (for example: industry conferences, air shows, training, web portal)
Quality control

How we ensure inspectors follow policies and procedures, and complete required documentation. Applies to an entire oversight activity, from inspection, to follow-up, to resolving non-compliance. Supervisors and managers are responsible for quality control.

Each program must have:

  • a documented, nationally consistent way of doing quality control
  • a procedure or set of procedures to ensure inspections follow approved standard operating procedures