Cutting it Close – Passengers found negligent for booking close connections

Man checking time_reduced

There are many ways in which passengers book air travel. Some use travel agents or tour companies, while others choose to book their travel online. Travel agents ought to be well accustomed to leaving adequate time between flights. When booking online, travellers are generally warned about tight connection times. In some cases, however, the question of timing could be due to time-sensitive commitments at the destination. For example, many people schedule short stop-overs for business meetings, while others fly to cities to connect onto cruises or other holiday packages. How much extra time should a person give themselves in these circumstances? The Quebec Small Claims Court recently dealt with this very issue.

In Desjardins c. Air Canada inc., 2016 QCCQ

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Passenger claims in international air travel: How far does the Montreal Convention reach?

Gavel - trans

In the 2014 decision of Thibodeau v. Air Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that the Montreal Convention, an international treaty incorporated into Canadian law, exclusively governs passenger claims for damages in relation to international air travel that fall within its scope. Consequently, if an action in respect of such a claim is not specifically provided for in the Convention, it is not available at all, regardless of local law.  This statement of the law is consistent with the interpretation of courts in most other signatory countries.

The Montreal Convention provides that personal injury claims may only be brought if the passenger has suffered “bodily injury” as a result of an “accident” that occurs during an international flight …

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Canada’s Federal Court: Public Safety Trumps Aviation Commercial Interests

Bell 407 helicopter

Earlier in 2015, the Federal Court heard two days of submissions from Canadian company Rotor Maxx Support Ltd. and the Minister of Transport (click here for link).  The issue: whether the Minister of Transport should be subject to a confidentiality order and injunction preventing the Minister from disclosing that Rotor Maxx had improperly certified helicopter engine and drive train parts.

At the time of the hearing, a temporary confidentiality order was already in place, but Rotor Maxx sought a further, prospective injunction.  To succeed in its injunction application, Rotor Maxx had to demonstrate to the court that there would be irreparable harm to its business that outweighed the Canadian public’s interest in the security of the “flying public”.  In the …

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The Battle Over Passenger/Flight Attendant Ratios: Transport Canada Decisions Ruled Unreasonable

Flight attendant

Until August 1, 2015, the Canadian Aviation Regulations (the “CARS”) required at least one flight attendant for every 40 passengers on board a commercial aircraft.  In 2013, Transport Canada (the regulator of aircraft operators) granted exemptions to several carriers, including Sunwing Airlines, allowing them to operate with a ratio of one flight attendant for every 50 passenger seats.  European and U.S. carriers were already permitted to operate under a 1:50 ratio.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) represents flight attendants employed by several Canadian airlines.  Over the past few years, CUPE has voiced strong opposition to the exemptions granted by Transport Canada.  As mentioned above, the CARS were amended as of August 1, 2015, and now permit air operators …

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Bond: Training Bond

Pilot

New employees are often subject to probationary periods during which their suitability for employment is evaluated. Probationary periods are defined periods of time (which are often for three months but can be longer) that are established at the beginning of employment. One purpose of probationary periods is to give the employer a reasonable opportunity to determine if the employee is qualified and suitable for the job. They will often provide an employer the ability to terminate the employee without cause and without the normal obligations of providing notice or severance. If a probationary period is longer than three months, the normal notice and severance provisions of provincial employment standards legislation or the Canada Labour Code apply, depending on which legislation …

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New drone regulations expected from Transport Canada in 2016

UAV

In May 2015, Transport Canada sought comments from aviation stakeholders across Canada regarding a Notice of Proposed Amendment on Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones.  For some time, Transport Canada has intended to implement new regulations for certain types of UAVs and their operations. These will replace the current “exemption” scheme, which was intended to be a temporary solution while Transport Canada introduced more rigorous safety requirements and created greater awareness of UAV operators’ legal obligations.

Presently, the Canadian Aviation Regulations (“CARs”) require that a UAV operator obtain a Special Flight Operations Certificate (“SFOC”) from Transport Canada. However, there are certain exemptions to these requirements, the applicability of which depends on two main factors: the weight of the …

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Supreme Court of New South Wales rules that PTSD can be a “bodily injury” under the Montreal Convention

Australian flag

In November 2009, an aircraft operated by Pel-Air Aviation Pty Ltd (“Pel-Air”) flew from Sydney, Australia to Samoa to transport a seriously ill patient and her husband to Melbourne, Australia.  The plane was scheduled to land at Norfolk Island (on its way to Melbourne) to refuel.  It crashed during that leg of the flight and the doctor and nurse who were onboard the aircraft (Ms. Casey and Dr. Helm) were both seriously injured.  They commenced an action against Pel-Air in the Supreme Court of South Wales.

As this case involved an international flight, Ms. Casey and Dr. Helm could only recover damages according to the provisions of the Montreal Convention, an international treaty that exclusively governs such cases.  Courts around …

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Supreme Court of Canada dismisses appeal of pilot in discrimination action against Bombardier

Uncle Sam

Last year, we posted an update about the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to hear an appeal involving Mr. Latif, a Canadian pilot of Pakistani descent.  He alleged that he was a victim of discrimination when Bombardier refused him entry into a pilot training program.  Our blog post (which includes a summary of the case) can be found here.

In short, Mr. Latif, who had 25 years’ experience as a pilot, applied for Bombardier’s training program in respect of a particular aircraft.  Based on a prior decision of the U.S. Department of Justice (under its Alien Flight Student Program (“AFSP”)) to refuse him entry into Bombardier’s training centre in Dallas, Texas on the basis that he was a threat …

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UAVs and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

UAV

The rise in popularity and use of unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs”) has attracted much attention recently. In the last year, we have seen a major uptick in UAV use by private companies. Here in Canada, UAVs have been regulated for some time through federal aviation regulations, but the accessibility of relatively inexpensive UAV technology has led Transport Canada to consider revisiting the regulations to ensure they are keeping pace with current interest and use.

In many industries, both private actors and government bodies are using UAVs in new and innovative ways. Arising from this technological leap forward are a number of new legal issues, particularly in the area of privacy. Pursuant to section 8 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and

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Canadian Government Amends Regulations for Offshore Flights

Image courtesy of num_skyman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Federal Minister of Transport, announced on April 22, 2015 that amendments to the Canadian Aviation Regulations (“CARs”) regarding offshore helicopter operations in Canada would come into force effective on July 21, 2015.  The objectives of these amendments are to reduce the risks associated with offshore operations flights and to bring Canada’s standards in line with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and industry best practices.  The genesis of these changes arises in response to an earlier loss.

On March 12, 2009, a Sikorsky S-92A helicopter destined for the Hibernia Oilfield crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of N.L. with 16 passengers and 2 crew members on board.  The lone surviving passenger suffered significant injuries while all other …

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