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Canadian Regulator Too Passive, Safety Board Chief Says

TSB chair Kathy Fox says safety issues are not being addressed as a result of Transport Canada's reluctance to implement rules without industry buy-in.

SEATTLE--Transport Canada's (TC's) unwillingness to make rules without industry buy-in is keeping some of the country's key safety issues from being addressed, the country's top safety investigation official says.

"The regulator, instead of regulating, seems to be looking for a consensus," Kathy Fox, Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada chair, told delegates at the Flight Safety Foundation International Air Safety Summit here Nov. 14. "If they don't get a consensus, then that seems to delay the regulation."

Fox said TC's lack of action on dozens of recommendations that are a decade or more old prompted TSB to spotlight the issue using its semi-annual Key Safety Issues list. The agency in 2016 added "Outstanding TSB Recommendations" to its list and kept the issue on its recently-updated 2018 version.

While TSB targeted all transportation modes, it called out aviation and marine as particular laggards. TSB has issued about 600 recommendations since its 1990 creation. As of October 1, 62 of them were both unresolved and issued more than 10 years ago, including 40 in TC's hands. Of these 40, TSB categories 19 of them as "active," meaning sufficient risk exists to keep pressing the regulator for action.

"That's why we got to this point," Fox said "We understand some of these are tough issues, but there's no excuse that when Transport Canada agrees with us, they should take over 10 years" to issue rules.

TSB in its latest issue-list report said "some encouraging progress" has been made since the issue was added to its issues list two years ago, but much of this is due to industry action or "changes in the operating environment," as opposed to new rules. "Transport Canada has made limited progress on regulatory actions. Furthermore, Transport Canada and central agencies have not undertaken the necessary actions to improve and accelerate the regulatory process for implementing responses to safety recommendations," TSB said.

TSB's current issues list includes two aviation risks: runway collisions and runway overruns. Both have been on the list since its 2010 debut. TSB also lists safety management and fatigue management as key watch issues across multiple sectors, including aviation.

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