When is an aerodrome not an aerodrome? When it’s really a boathouse.

Floatplane image

On January 9, 2014, the Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal of Mr. Bak, a former real estate developer (click here for decision).

The appeal arose from the owner Bak’s desire to build a boathouse to complement his cottage on Lake Rosseau’s environmentally protected shoreline.  Bak’s application to the Township was rejected.  Initially, Bak appealed that decision through the municipal process.  He later withdrew the appeal, preferring his chances at reclassifying the structure as a federally regulated aerodome, and therefore exempt from the municipal bylaws.  He registered the structure as an aerodrome and continued with its construction, notwithstanding a stop work order from the municipality.

Subsequently, the municipality (Seguin) applied to the Court for an order requiring Bak to …

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What is “Air Service”?

Gavel - trans

The Canadian Transportation Agency recently published a decision which sets out how it determines what constitutes an “air service” and what criteria will be applied in making that determination. The Agency is mandated to administer, interpret and enforce the Canada Transportation Act (“CTA”). The CTA provides for various licensing requirements in respect of air transportation and those requirements apply to any person who operates or intends to operate an “air service” in Canada. Therefore, the answer to the question of whether one is operating an air service may have significant consequences on the obligations to comply with regulatory requirements. 

“Air Service” is defined in the CTA as “a service provided by means of an aircraft, that is publicly available for …

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Do protesters have the right to demonstrate in Canadian airports?


In October 2011, eight members of an anti-abortion organization engaged in demonstrations in the Calgary Airport terminal building. The protesters were carrying signs and distributing pamphlets. After they refused to leave the premises, the Airport Authority called police, who attended and charged the protesters under Alberta trespass legislation. The Provincial Court of Alberta recently released its judgment in this case (R. v. Booyink), and addressed the issue of whether the Calgary Airport Authority is subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the context of protests on airport premises.


In 1991, the Supreme Court of Canada decided a similar case, which involved individuals distributing political pamphlets at the Dorval Airport (Committee for the Commonwealth

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Transport Canada Proposes New Regulations for Offshore Flights

Image courtesy of num_skyman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

On March 12, 2009, a Sikorsky S-92A helicopter destined for the Hibernia Oilfield crashed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.  Seventeen passengers suffered fatal injuries in the crash and the lone survivor suffered serious injuries.  In response to safety recommendations from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, regulatory amendments have been proposed by Transport Canada.  The proposed amendments are meant to reduce the risks associated with flights in support of offshore oil, gas or mineral exploration.

The proposed amendments contain the following new requirements:

(a)        no offshore operations flights are to be conducted if the sea state reported at the destination exceeds the sea state for which the helicopter is certified to conduct a ditching in

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Conflicting Court Decisions on Airline Baggage Loss Claims

Image courtesy of Gregory Szarkiewicz at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In late 2012, the European Court of Justice released its ruling in the matter of Sanchez v. Iberia Airlines, in which it had been asked to decide whether an airline was liable for loss of baggage to multiple passengers who had packed items in the same bag, or whether compensation was only available to the passenger who had checked the bag.

The Court was called on to interpret Article 22(2) of the Montreal Convention, which is an international convention that governs the liability of air carriers engaged in international carriage. This Article states that in the case of destruction, loss, damage or delay of baggage, an airline’s liability will be limited to 1,131 Special Drawing Rights (approximately $1,750 CAD) …

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Lasers and Aircraft Safety

Airbus A380

A 19-year old man was charged in Calgary this week with assault causing bodily harm and two mischief-related charges under the Criminal Code.  He is being accused of pointing a type-3 laser at a Calgary police helicopter pilot three times.  For a recent article about the rising frequency of these incidents in Canada, click here.  It is alarming and perplexing that these events continue to occur.…

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Supreme Court of Canada Grants Leave in Montreal Convention/Language Rights Case

The Supreme Court of Canada announced today that it will hear an appeal of a case which considered the interaction and potential conflict between the Montreal Convention (a treaty governing international air travel) and Canadian language law rights.   

Click here to view a recent article regarding this case.  Click here to view the announcement from the Supreme Court of Canada.  Click here to view the Federal Court of Canada decision that is being appealed.…

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Privacy at the Airport: Canadian Government Updates Airport Body Scanners

Stick man

Canada’s Minister of State (Transport) announced yesterday that new software will be deployed on Canada’s full-body scanners that will enhance passenger privacy at airports.  The new software produces computer generated “stick figures” rather than an outline of the passenger’s body, enhancing privacy for air travellers.  In addition, the scanner does not collect personal information from the passenger it screens nor is the image correlated in any way with the name of the passenger or any other identifying information.

The changes likely arise in response to the decision by the United States to get rid of body scanners that could not be modified to alleviate privacy concerns.  The Electronic Privacy Information Center (a public internet research outfit in Washington, DC) claimed …

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Crash After a Single Engine Take-off in a Piper Aztec is not an “Accident”

Aviation - judge

On August 24, 2009, the Canadian pilot of a twin engine Piper Aztec flew from North Carolina to Southern Ontario.  To clear customs, the pilot made a stop in Brantford, Ontario.  After the Canadian Border Services Agents did not arrive, the pilot decided to fly the short remaining leg to his farm.

The pilot started the left engine, but had difficulty starting the right.  He shut down the aircraft and attempted to find the problem.  Eventually he determined that the right engine was not going to start.  He considered his options and decided to attempt a take-off with only one engine.

The pilot started his take-off roll.  After the wheels of the aircraft lost contact with the ground, the asymmetrical …

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Montreal Convention Delay Claims Must be Reasonable

Gavel - trans

A Halifax passenger booked with Air Canada to fly from Halifax to Beirut, via Montreal.  The flight segment from Montreal to Paris was cancelled due to a maintenance issue.  Air Canada scheduled a replacement flight which left Montreal later than the originally scheduled departure time.  To compensate for the delay, Air Canada offered the passenger an upgrade on the Montreal/Paris segment of the rescheduled flight as well as $1,300 in flight vouchers.

The passenger rejected Air Canada’s offers and elected instead to book flights with another carrier which arrived in Lebanon sooner than the rescheduled Air Canada flight.  In order to secure those flights, the passenger had to travel business class.  The passenger sued Air Canada for the full cost …

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