“Who CAIRS” & other regulations

By Norm Chalmers — April 08, 2013

Transport Canada has several ways of dealing with people like me. The first is to ignore me, the second is to tell me that they love my complaint and they are adding it to their list that exists somewhere in their ethereal filing system, and the third is to obfuscate. Obfuscatorial responses are the most curious because the minister seems to expect people to believe them when they are so obviously absurd.

In October 2010 I sent a note of concern to the Minister of Transport in the form of a CAIRS. This Civil Aviation Issues Reporting System is now widely known as the “WHO CAIRS?”, with emphasis on the WHO. Of course this is a rhetorical question; we now know that WHO is nobody.

My concern has been regarding the administration of the Transport Canada (TC) Program Validation Inspection (PVI) programs. Many Civil Aviation Safety Inspectors are mandating that victim companies implement Root Cause Analysis (RCA), among other new “requirements”. They want all these when there are no regulations to back them up.

My CAIRS stated:

“ISSUE: TC M&M Inspectors are forcing companies to perform root cause analysis and for each PVI finding and to provide reports to the TC office. This local requirement varies from office to office.”

SUGGESTED SOLUTION: “Inform your inspectors that root cause analysis reports are not mandatory. Inform your inspectors that they must not impose additional requirements.”

Here is part of the response that the minister sent me:

“Staff Instruction SUR 001, Section 10.4, lists five items that an acceptable certificate holder Corrective Action Plan shall contain, one of which is a root cause analysis of each non-conformance. All Transport Canada inspectors shall be reviewing the root cause analysis as part of the company’s corrective action acceptance process. If that is not happening consistently, we will remind inspectors of the requirement for these.”

Is the minister telling me that the staff instruction, written by another of the minister’s minions, is the requirement (regulation)? I hope that I am sitting in the public gallery of the courtroom if this ever ends up in court. I don’t blame the minion who wrote this response. I just ask that next time TC answers one of my complaints, at least they read it before responding. That may be a chimerical expectation, but I’ll keep on trying.

One of my concerns is that TC staff are now being directed to comply with these policy requirements. This use of the wording “acceptable Corrective Action Plan” is now morphing into a whole new set of regulations that I see as being unconstitutional. As certificate holders, you will be seeing more of this in the future. I will be writing more on this, but if any of you out there are interested in reading about your fate, go to any TC WWW site and find “SI SUR-001”. Don’t read it before bedtime because you’ll have nightmares.

Here is another example, but with a different response. In my journeys, I read numerous Maintenance Policy and Control Manuals (MCM & MPM) that contain job descriptions and organizational charts when they are not required and that add no value. The regulations and standards only add to the confusion in this. Related to that, I sent a WHO-CAIRS to the minister in February, 2011 that went as follows:

“ISSUE: An error in Standard 726 causes confusion and delays regarding development and approval of MCMs. 726.08(1)(h) wrongly refers to “subsection 706.03(3)” where it ought to refer to “subsection 706.03(6)”.

SUGGESTED SOLUTION: Recognize this error AND Notify CASI offices to recognize and allow for this error. AND Amend 726.08(1)(h) to refer to 706.03(6).”

Yes, I see the grammatical error. Here is part of the response from one of TC’s fast-rising autocrats:

“All administrative NPAs have to follow the normal Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council (CARAC) process. Your concern will be added to the list of editorial errors that need to be corrected when this section of the regulations is revised. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for sharing your views, as all comments we receive are

I totally believe that, but the minister’s minion totally missed my point regarding MCM approval problems. Unfortunately there is no way to mandate reasonable responses and these senior mandarins know it. On any issue they can tell you or me to “Go push a rope!”

Now that the minister has SMS implemented as a legacy of recent senior bureaucrats, the new batch of Ottawa bosses are working on their own legacy.

Let’s hear your applause for the introduction of Fatigue Risk Management Systems or FRMS. In a come-from-
behind response, the helicopter industry has issued some statements. Much of the aviation industry doesn’t have any representation. I note that one of the key players in the push to FRMS has never worked in the aviation industry. That is a sign of the relativity of the future autocracy in the Tower of Darkness.

These people always fall back on the old response: “we consulted with industry”. As George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

With all this RCA, FRMS and SMS codswallop (not fish oil) lubricating the gears of our aviation industry, what’s next? To quote the British when they were being bombed, “Keep calm and carry on”.

Now for some regulatory topics that are not clearly understood by most industry professionals:

“Basis of Certification” and the “Type Certificate Data Sheet”. These two terms are the bookends of the process of getting an aircraft designed, built and approved. As a maintainer, this information is background stuff, but as such, it is the foundation of maintenance requirements.

As the inventor of a new aircraft, you will meet with the TC Aircraft Certification group and you will get the whole process down on paper. It all starts with the Basis of Certification. This depends on your planned aircraft size, weight, passenger capacity, etc. The categories are listed on the TC web site. Find the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CAR) and the standards. The standards, starting with 522 for gliders and going down to 551 for equipment, are the Bases of Certification. Next in your meeting with the TC Aircraft Certification group, you agree to a “compliance program” that will ensure that your aircraft conforms to the standard.

On completion of the compliance program, you will have one or more flying aircraft and a stack of records to show compliance that is equal to, or greater than, the weight of the aircraft. That is the Type Design Data.
When all is in conformance with the standard, you receive your long-sought-after and amazing Type Certificate issued to you by TC. Attached to the Type Certificate is the Type Certificate Data Sheet. This data sheet is the legal description of your aircraft as determined during the compliance program. Sometimes that gets confusing because many people refer to this Type Certificate as the “TC” with its “TC Data Sheet”. Just what we need: two TCs.

Now with this Type Certificate to your name, you are the Type Certificate holder (TC holder) with all of the accompanying obligations. You must provide technical support to the aircraft owners, including manuals for maintenance, parts, wiring diagrams, flight manuals and other documents specified in the Data Sheets.

Now all you need to do is become a TC-approved manufacturer so you can build aircraft and issue a Certificate of Airworthiness for each one. That’s another story.

Now for a different you: the maintainer. You have an aircraft to maintain. You have the aircraft and piles of manuals. What you may not have is the Data Sheet, which is the legal description of this new aircraft. To find that, once again I direct you to the TC web site: For this example to follow, I pick the Lear Jet 35, but I encourage you to find and examine the Data Sheet applicable to your aircraft. You will find that the headings and order of things is the same or similar. First of all, note at the top of page 1, the words: “This Data Sheet, which is part of Type Certificate No. A-128, prescribes the conditions and limitations under which the product(s) for which the Type Certificate was granted meet(s) the standards of airworthiness required by the Canadian Aviation Regulations.”

For this aircraft, this Data Sheet number A-128 is the law for Canadian registered aircraft. If you are looking at the FAA Data Sheet number – A10CE – that’s OK for USA registered aircraft.

On page 1 are listed the Type Certificate Holder, aircraft models, engines permitted, and fuel and additives permitted. Using any other fuels or additives is not allowed.

Next, we see the “Limits” section. If any of these are exceeded, the aircraft becomes unairworthy until maintenance restores it to serviceability. These limits are usually specified in the approved aircraft Flight Manual and must be complied with by the flight crews.

Following that are the legal weights, centre of gravity limits and other related limits. This is what the Flight Manual data is based on. This is where the datum is defined by law. Note the reference to the Maintenance Manual for control rigging. Some Data Sheets list those specifications.

Then we find the “Basis of Certification” (see above) but for your Data Sheet, it may be later in the sheets under the title “Data Pertinent to All Models”. Note the effectivity date, which may be different for the different models. In this section are usually specified configuration or modification documents that you don’t have and cannot find. These documents are part of the “type certification” process and only Transport Canada and the Type Certificate owner/applicant have them.

Under “Serial Numbers Eligible” are listed the only ones allowed. Do not buy any other serial numbered aircraft for import unless you are prepared to spend a lot of money.

Under “Required Equipment” we see some stuff that must be on the aircraft, including the Aircraft Flight Manual. This must be on board the aircraft at all times for the aircraft to be legally airworthy. Stunning, eh?

Following down, we come to “Approved Publications”. Have a look at your aircraft’s Flight Manual and ensure you have the correct manual. Under “Life Limited Parts” the sheet specifies the Maintenance Manual Chapter 5. That reference makes that Chapter 5 a part of this approval and mandatory by law. In other aircraft, it may refer to a Service Bulletin making that SB mandatory or it may list those Life Limits in the Data Sheets.

Next, we see the models 31A and 60 are included in this approval. What we see for these models are additional sections titled “Canadian Configuration” and “Placards”. Once again, a Data Sheet may list the placards or may refer to another document making that document mandatory.

Following those aircraft-specific sections, we come to a section titled “Data Pertinent to All Models”. For most types, this section is large and needs to be examined in detail.

Following that section are the Notes. Throughout the Data Sheets you may find notations “See NOTE ##”. When you see that notation, go to this area at the back. For the model LJ60XR aircraft, NOTE 5 specifies the approved seating configurations.
This is unusual. The approved interior configurations, including seating arrangements, are usually specified in the approved flight manual. In small aircraft, the flight manual often gives you enough flexibility to put the seats and baggage in almost any place. Any configuration not covered by this must be approved.

The Type Certificate Data Sheets provide you with the background to understand where many of the requirements are based. Being the legal description of the aircraft, they need to be a key document referred to by MDMs when doing imports.
To go deeper you can examine the Basis of Certification. I touched on this in a previous column when I pointed out that the FAA provides easy access to the specific FARs by date. Transport Canada has not progressed to that point yet and may never get there considering the focus is on developing new barriers to commerce. It’s like a ship’s captain looking for more cargo while the boat is sinking. The big difference is that Transport Canada can’t sink as long as the Treasury Board keeps shovelling money at them while having no knowledge of where the cash is really going.

Now for the Transportation Safety Board. The TSB continues to issue reports without going into what “root cause analysis” was performed. The causes continue to begin “the pilot did this” or “the pilot did not do that.” Often the operators do take safety action as noted in the reports but I see no reference to the apparent lack of that safety net prior to the accident. These reports do not show how these actions that the companies take relate to causes that the Board found. Please note that content of the previous sentence was influenced by SMS.

It seems unfair to blame the pilot without addressing the support systems, such as the operator’s management systems and specific regulatory omissions and weaknesses. In most cases the investigators know what’s missing, but their reports need to get past the censors.

That’s all for now, so until next time, study those Data Sheets and be skeptical. Next time we will examine the authoritarian direction being implemented by Transport Canada twisting and misusing the law to intimidate the aviation industry that they know so little about.

Please be aware that I am not a lawyer or legal expert. My column is not legal advice or legal opinion. If you face a legal issue, you must get specific legal advice from a lawyer and preferably one with experience in the aviation matters in your own country.

About The Author

Norm Chalmers

NORM CHALMERS worked with Transport Canada as an Airworthiness Inspector for 25 years. Before this, from 1967 to 1983, he worked in the aircraft maintenance industry in and around Western Canada and in the Arctic. His industry experience includes the operational maintenance of normal and commuter category aircraft and smaller transport category aircraft in the corporate sector as well as several years working in major repairs in the helicopter sector. As an Airworthiness Inspector, he has been responsible for most duties related to the position, including the approval of all aspects of maintenance, manufacturing, training, and responsibilities related to distribution organizations. Norm now operates Pacific Airworthiness Consulting;

View all articles by Norm Chalmers.