Report on the Dryden crash is important

Joe’s response, ‘Joe on the Buffalo Q400 crash and Dryden accident’ makes me wonder if he read the article on the Dryden crash carefully since his remarks concentrated on the pilot’s decision and failed to mention the government’s and the airlines’ roles.  The Dryden crash was not only about a pilot’s decision


As Judge Moshansky pointed out, the Dryden crash was due in large part by a systemic failure.  The government deregulated the commercial flight industry and neglected to put in place adequate safeguards to ensure airlines were doing what they were supposed to do.


Consider the following from the article.


The inquiry's report levelled sweeping criticism at federal regulators, saying Ottawa's 1984 deficit-cutting exercise at a time when it deregulated the aviation industry left the bureaucracy unable to ensure safety in the skies.


"Bureaucratic intransigence" prompted the failure of top officials to realize deregulation would demand more, not less, enforcement and legislation, Moshansky said.


The report also said Transport Canada should not have allowed Air Ontario to fly its newly acquired Fokker F-28 jet until crews had been adequately trained.


The inquiry's report blasted Air Ontario and Air Canada, saying they allowed "other corporate concerns to intervene and subordinate safety."


It added: "The difference between the attention and resources expended by Air Canada and Air Ontario on marketing, as compared with safety of operations, must . . . be described as inadequate and short-sighted."


As for Joe’s observation that it was a 20-year old incident and that pilots know to de-ice because of it, consider Judge Moshansky’s testimony at the Commons Transportation Committee hearings a year and a half ago about Transport Canada’s safety management system.


An aviation tragedy is "on the horizon" because funding cuts at Transport Canada have undermined airline inspections, says the judge whose probe into the deadly 1989 Dryden air crash led to an overhaul of aviation safety.

Virgil Moshansky yesterday issued a scathing condemnation of Ottawa's move to give Canada's air carriers greater responsibility to oversee the safety of their operations. "Today, 18 years after Dryden, history is repeating itself, only worse," Moshansky told the Commons transport committee.

"Cost-cutting is again in vogue at Transport Canada, and has been for some time," he said.

At the centre of the debate is a move by Transport Canada to give both large and small air carriers more responsibility for overseeing their own safety, a new regime known as safety management system (SMS).

Moshansky praised SMS as a "wonderful system," but said it has to be backed by strong government oversight and enforcement, something he said doesn't seem to be happening.


"After a period of relative calm, numerous serious aviation safety concerns have returned to haunt the Canadian aviation system," he said.


For example, at the time of the Dryden inquiry, there were 1,400 aviation inspectors, about 400 short of what was needed for adequate oversight, he said. Today, there are between 800 and 850 inspectors.


Click on the link to learn what Transport Canada’s FAQ says on the question of enforcement of their safety management system .  Then click on ‘Link to Enforcement Policy.


Joe says, “that if the anti-airport community were to scrutinize everything that affects their lives with the same intensity that they do on TCCA operations, they may find many other concerns that are arguably much more significant than the ones being raised about Porter.”


First, this isn’t about Porter Airlines as far as I’m concerned.  The incident on the east coast involving the pilot who lost consciousness shows that Porter pilots know what they’re doing. 


This is about Transport Canada and its role in ensuring our safety.  They blew it 20 years ago with the Dryden crash.  Why can’t they blow it again with an industry-regulated safety management system overlooked by too few inspectors?  That is Judge Moshansky’s observation, a man who should know. 


It is also about the Toronto Port Authority and their ability to properly run the airport, especially given their record on governance and their need to show a profit in their operations.  The TPA and Transport Canada have ignored at minimum three covenants in the Tripartite Agreement that they are legally bound to uphold.


As for scrutinizing the TCCA intensely, it’s too bad nobody was intensely scrutinizing the Dryden airport operations 20 years ago.  Read the Moshansky Report and you’ll know why.


Bob Kotyk


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