Linguistics manager Jerry Reinhardt and director Rob Seaton of Rotech Motor stand with a Zenith CH 750 plane featuring a Rotech Motor Saturday, during the COPA convention at UBCO. - Credit Carli Berry/Capital News

Forum aims to bring awareness to safety issues

During COPA’s convention, a three-year safety campaign was started in Kelowna

A new campaign is aiming to educate pilots, passengers and the public about safely operating planes in the private sector.

A panel which included members from COPA, Transport Canada, the Western Canada Safety Board, the Southern Interior Flight Centre and a partner group addressed a full audience, Saturday, June 24 at UBCO.

One of the main issues discussed during the forum was although commercial flight accidents have decreased, general aviation flight (anything but scheduled and non-military planes) accidents have not.

These accidents mostly occur during the take off and landing phases of flights, said COPA President Bernard Gervais.

“We know that take off and landing are the most critical phases of any flight… that’s when you need full attention.”

About 60 per cent of all incidents occur during those two phases of flight, he said.

The three-year campaign includes associations from across Canada, which will gather information to increase safety awareness.

Greg Sewell is a resident of Peachland and Surrey. His daughter, Lauren Sewell, was killed in a plane crash five years ago.

He said if there were shoulder restraints in the plane, she would have lived.

“I’m positive about the (meeting today). I’m a member of the task force… and I’m hoping over this three year period, educating the pilots opposed to regulating them will have positive results. Changing regulations is one thing but if people are ignoring them it’s not going to achieve the same results,” he said. “I feel that this is a very good way to make a change.”

Sewell would like to see a change in shoulder restraint awareness. He said approximately half of the small planes flying in Canada were built before 1985. Shoulder restraints are only required in planes built after that year.

“I think there can be opportunities to encourage the education and have incentives for (safety precautions in the planes.)”

“The safety campaign represents a partnership between Transport Canada and the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association supported by an advisory committee comprised of partner associations from across B.C.,” reads a COPA release.

The forum was held during COPA’s annual convention and trade show.