Good morning, everyone.
I call to order this meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), we are continuing our study on aviation safety.
Dear colleagues, as you can see today we have the good fortune of having some special guests in the room. I want to welcome the grade 12 students of the École secondaire publique Gisèle-Lalonde of Orleans, who are attending this meeting of the committee for their political science class. I hope you will have a good day, a good visit of Parliament, and that this meeting of this committee will be very instructive for you. Welcome, and thank you for joining us.
We are pleased to welcome the following witnesses: Mr. Aaron Speer, vice-president of Flight Operations at Bradley Air Services Limited (First Air), as well as Mr. Edward McKeogh, president of Canadian Aviation Safety Consultants, who is with us via video conference from Montreal.
Welcome gentlemen. Thank you very much for being here with us.
Unfortunately, I must announce that Mr. Massimo Bergamini, president and chief executive officer of the National Airlines Council of Canada, had to cancel his appearance at the last minute this morning.
Because of a vote in the House of Commons, our time will be very limited. We will take the time to hear the witnesses, and we will have time for one round of questions this morning. And so I would ask the witnesses to limit their preliminary remarks insofar as possible, so that we have time to speak with them afterwards. This would be greatly appreciated.
Mr. Speer, if you are ready to speak first, you have five minutes to make your presentation.
Good morning. My name is Aaron Speer. I'm the vice-president of flight operations at First Air. On behalf of First Air I would like to thank the committee for the opportunity to appear this morning to present some of the unique challenges that we face on a daily basis in our operations.
With 71 years of experience, First Air is a leading airline serving Canada's Arctic, where we provide scheduled service between 31 northern communities with connections to Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, and Edmonton. Ultimately, we have more destinations north of the Arctic Circle than south of it. Most of these communities do not have road access, so reliable air transportation represents the only means of year-round access.
Given our theatre of operations, we regularly face challenges and operational issues that are not faced by traditional southern airlines. Many of the airports in northern Canada were established during the Cold War. Since then, unlike many airports in southern Canada, they have undergone very little expansion and modernization.
There are limited approach procedures. While GPS approaches are prevalent in southern airports, they have not been deployed readily across the north.
There are limited lighting systems. Many airports are served with extremely basic approach lights. Visual glide slope indicators often are not available or are configured only for smaller aircraft.
There is outdated technology. The Iqaluit ILS has been off the air since early April, with no clear solution in sight since the failed components are no longer manufactured.
There are gravel runways. The bulk of our network is served by airports with often very short gravel runways. These runways limit the selection of aircraft that can be used and significantly increase our maintenance costs.
There is limited weather information. Many stations are not served by 24-hour weather reporting systems. While some progress has been made recently to expand the areas of coverage, we are often forced to make operational decisions without the benefit of weather reporting or forecasting.
There is limited fuel access. Fuel is resupplied once per year in most communities. When the fuel supply is exhausted it cannot be replaced until late the following summer. In the case of Taloyoak this year, we were required to operate for over three months without access to fuel at that station. Coupled with the distances between communities, the lack of fuel represents a significant operational handicap.
There is a lack of viable alternate airports. Given the limited approach procedures, limited approach lights, limited weather information, potential fuel supply limitations, and the large distances between airports, we are often heavily penalized by a lack of suitable alternate airports.
Without improved infrastructure at some communities we will ultimately be faced with only two options.
One option is that we will continue to operate with older technology aircraft to support those shorter runways. While this does ensure that there is service continuing to all the communities, the older aircraft will ultimately reach a point where they are not financially viable. At the same time, the older aircraft are not able to take advantage of all technological advances, in some cases including safety-related ones.
Our other option is to cease operations to those communities with the shorter runways. In this situation, the only option that would remain would be for a smaller carrier using smaller aircraft, likely a CAR 703 air taxi or 704 commuter operator, to introduce service to those communities. While that would ensure that the communities do continue to receive the service, those operators are not bound by the same stringent CAR 705 airline regulations that govern our operations.
Air transport is a lifeline to the north. From medical travel to food supplies, the populations of the north depend on our service to live their lives to the fullest. Without external investment in the northern infrastructure, our operation is not sustainable. At some point, should this investment not occur, a reduction in the level of service that we provide is inevitable.
I would like to thank you again for the opportunity to appear today before the committee. Given the number of witnesses who have appeared to date, I believe the committee does have a fairly good understanding of the issues facing the industry as a whole. I have limited my discussion primarily to the issues facing our unique operation in the north. Despite that focus, I would be pleased to answer any questions you have, whether they relate to the industry as a whole, the airline industry, or our operations in the north.
Good morning everyone.
Thank you very much for giving us this opportunity to appear before your committee.
My name is Edward McKeogh. I'm the president of Canadian Aviation Safety Consultants. As the name would imply, the emphasis of our group is aviation safety. That will be the theme of what I will talk about right now.
Findings of investigations into recent high-profile catastrophic aircraft accidents have pointed to a serious inability of many aircrew to competently handle their aircraft in the case of autopilot failure or unsuitability. The evolution of the autopilot in recent decades has been very impressive, to the point where pilots are now using it a minute or so after takeoff. They fly the aircraft off the ground and engage the autopilot a minute or so after takeoff. It does the work in working them out of the departure pattern, en route, and in the arrival. Then they take over and hand fly the aircraft for only a minute or so before arriving at their destination.
The result is that we have people with thousands and tens of thousands of hours in their logbooks, but only a very small amount of hand flying of aircraft. This has resulted in recent catastrophes.
Air France flight 447 crashed into the South Atlantic a short while ago. Here, there was an aircraft at 35,000 feet, with both engines working fine and controls working properly, and when the autopilot went off air because two of the three pitot tubes giving it airspeed information had iced up, it said to the aircrew, “alternate law”, meaning that now you have control and you're going to fly the aircraft. Four and a half minutes later, the aircraft crashed into the South Atlantic, killing everyone on board, the reason being that pilots do not have enough experience in handling an aircraft, in hand flying it.
It might seem to some to be a bit boring or inefficient to fly the aircraft at high altitudes, but it gives you a feel for what it's like up there in thin air when the aircraft must be maintained in that narrow window between stall speed and critical Mach.
Similarly, another one was the Asiana arriving in San Francisco. There was a NOTAM: in other words, they were told in advance the instrument landing system would not be available to them. In that case, what you have to do is think ahead of what you're going to do to set up a visual circuit. A landing isn't made in the hash marks at the end of the runway. It's set up miles back, at 300 feet for each mile, so at 1,000 feet of altitude, at the proper alignment with the runway and at the proper referenced air speed, that is where you start.
They had none of that going for them, because they were not used to hand flying their aircraft. The autopilot had been flying the aircraft for them too long. With three people in the cockpit, what happened was that both airspeed and altitude deteriorated markedly and amazingly, and the aircraft, with a very nose-high attitude, had the tail hit the seawall at the San Francisco airport. It broke off, a lot of people were killed, and the aircraft was destroyed.
The thrust of what I'm saying is that we have to introduce this into the training system of airlines and have airlines allow their people, when conditions are suitable at destinations, to cancel an IFR flight plan and ask the control agency if they could do a VFR approach and learn to fly the airplane that way.
Now, we have a long list of things we would like to see introduced into aviation training, things that we would like to see upgraded, but what I've done here is limit it to two of the more serious ones. One you've just heard, and another one—I'll be brief here—has to do with aviation safety lectures. Just as doctors, dentists, stockbrokers, and what have you are required to conduct and attend continuation training lectures to keep them up to speed on their profession, we feel that there isn't enough of this done in aviation.
Some of the larger airlines have an in-house program of this kind. We would like to see it work all the way down to the earliest level of training, even at the flying clubs, and that—
To begin, your first comment concerned the fatigue regulations. Fundamentally, I wholeheartedly support any improvements we can make in terms of fatigue regulation to improve safety. That being said, I think it's important that we do look very carefully at those regulations to ensure we are reflecting science and actually addressing the fatigue issues. We also need to recognize that there are very different aspects to all the operations across the country, and a one-size-fits-all solution may not be it.
One example that I will look at in the current set of regulations is that looking at science, you generally need to sleep eight hours a night. There are periods of time in the evening where it's really important that we're sleeping, the window of circadian low. I agree we should recognize and respect those times. The current regulations that we're discussing also generated very firmly that 10:30 at night to 7:30 in the morning is a period when you get your rest. If, for example, an operation runs into 10:45 at night, I don't see any science that supports their now needing two full days off.
There are some bases in science there, but it's important to sit back and study the entire thing, understand all of the science, ensure it applies to the operation and that we are basing it on science and the operation and that safety is there. But I think additional study is required to get to that point.
I'd like to welcome the witnesses.
My question is for Mr. Speer. As you know, I'm on one of your flights tomorrow morning heading up to Iqaluit.
Throughout your presentation you talked about the lack of infrastructure and the implications of that on an airline operating in the north. Throughout your submission you talk about the one-size regulations not fitting everything. I think that's one thing that most people don't understand, the uniqueness of flying in the north.
On the issue of fatigue, they're looking at changing the regulations for duty time and stuff such as that. I know specifically with the trans-Arctic route that you guys fly from Ottawa, all the way across the top over to Edmonton, there are some potential issues there. Could we first just get an idea of some of the issues and challenges around that for you, and also, as you pointed out, the complete lack of infrastructure in the north and how that relates to safety as well?
I will address the two questions. First, the flight and duty time regulations will have a very significant impact on us in terms of the limitations they impose on flight time. It's very much predicated on some larger operations. Our operations typically begin and end early in the morning or late in the evening, when people travel into our hubs and then we take them out, and likewise when we bring people in early to catch flights. During the middle portion of the day, we have good infrastructure in place to allow for rest. We recognize those limitations. We've invested heavily in facilities and accommodation to ensure our crews receive rest while they're out on the road. That doesn't seem to be recognized.
On the other implications of days versus nights, in terms of responses, again, we have very good facilities in place to provide for and mitigate fatigue. We've actually structured our schedules around the cycles of the individuals. We think we've very heavily addressed those, but our efforts have not been recognized in the regulations because they are atypical given our areas of operation.
In terms of the infrastructure and the safety implications, I would argue that it's the biggest thing that causes me grief at night. The facilities we see in the north are very much what we saw back in about 1960 or 1970. They haven't changed very much since then.
Ironically, we've had comments about lack of familiarity with hand flying the aircraft. Because of the infrastructure we have, we can't use autopilot very heavily for approaches and landings simply because the approaches don't allow us to fly down that close to the ground. Our crews are actually quite proficient at hand flying the aircraft.
We have very limited weather services and very limited approaches, with the result that quite frequently, with very limited infrastructure, we're not able to land. We spend a great deal of time travelling for three hours only to turn around and come back again because the approaches didn't let us land where they would have down south. It ends up generating lots of back-and-forth, which further adds more flying for us, eroding time and adding to our fatigue issues as well.
In terms of the Pangnirtung approach, I agree; that's probably our most challenging approach. I've spent many years personally involved in that. The company invested several hundreds of thousands of dollars in testing and certification, requiring three separate operational approvals beyond the standard just to make operations off a 2,900-foot gravel runway viable with our aircraft, which we can't keep doing with our new aircraft.
In terms of the unintended consequences, I look at many regulations. I'll use the approach ban as a good example. It's predicated almost with a concept that everyone understands the realities of Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto with long runways and excellent approaches, ILS approaches everywhere. However, by structuring that, there is some limited infrastructure that makes those rules not fit.
I've personally been in a case in Iqaluit where I've been stuck holding over the airport when I can see the runway, but with blowing snow in the area, I can't land because of the approach ban. I'm forced to divert off to a much shorter runway and fly an NDB approach, circling inside mountainous terrain at night, which is arguably the most difficult and most dangerous approach to flying. Because of the approach ban, I couldn't carry out the ILS approach in Iqaluit, arguably the simplest approach, to a runway that I could actually see. There was no recognition for some of those conditions.
Quite often I get forced. If I can't land at one airport, I then need to fly two to three hours, a long distance, to an airport that's even less equipped for my landing, just by virtue of the inability of those airports to provide the same infrastructure that exists everywhere down south as a norm. Those norms are not the norm across the country.
I thank our witnesses for being here with us.
I am sorry to take some of our time to introduce my motion, but it can't be avoided. The study on aviation safety is moving forward extremely quickly, and I would be remiss if I did not take the time to table it and submit it to a vote this morning. I am going to take a minute to do that, without explanations nor debate. It reads as follows:
That the committee invite the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, to testify as part of the study on aviation safety.
Just as with any study, points of view sometimes differ. And so before we draft our report, it would be interesting to also hear the minister's perspective.
That is the idea behind this motion, and I hope it will be supported by the majority.
I have a point of order, Mr. Chairman.
Through you to the clerk, we went through two processes here with two motions where I put together a motion to adjourn debate. I understand that when you adjourn debate, after you vote on adjourning debate, under that process or regulation, it then moves on to the next agenda item. I guess the interpretation is, is the next item the motion that was introduced, or is the next item what is on the actual agenda before us, presented to us before the meeting?
I don't need an answer now, but if I would like to have that clarified. After the last motion by Mr. Clement, I had expected that we would move on to the next agenda item, and that would then take place at the next meeting to vote for that motion. Obviously it was ruled by you that the next agenda item was the motion that was placed on the table. If we could have clarification on that, I'd appreciate it.
Under the dilatory motions, it does state that, when you move to adjourn, this temporarily suspends debate under way on a motion. If the motion is carried, debate on the motion ceases, and the committee moves on to the next agenda item. The motion has been adjourned and can no longer be brought up for the remainder of the meeting. I need clarification on that.
On aviation safety lectures, we feel, as I've said before, that doctors, dentists, and stockbrokers have to put in so many hours annually of continuation training to make sure they're up to speed on what's going on in their domain. Well, we know that human factors—attention, attitude, awareness, anticipation, alertness, and alternatives—are not talked about sufficiently in training, whether it be an issue of training at the flying school and all the way up, with the exception of certain of the larger airlines that have in-house people doing this.
We would like to see the regulatory authorities establish rules, directives, concerning how many hours of training a person must attend per year. It can be dispensed at their own location. They can send an instructor to us and we'll teach that instructor, and he'll go back at the most efficient time and place to give those lectures. They include, not just the human factors that I mentioned, but also cockpit resource management; safety management systems; ALAR, approach and landing accident reduction system; and CFIT, controlled flight into terrain. There are a whole host of things that are not sufficiently emphasized out there, and we, within our purview, have the ability to do that.
What I talked about earlier was about general aviation throughout this universe. We can't be looking over everyone's shoulder, but with ICAO here in Montreal, through them, we can talk a lot about the necessity of hands-on flying.
However, this aviation safety lecture business is something that we can control right here, in-house. We can have people from the various organizations send an instructor to us here in Montreal, and we will teach him all of the things I just mentioned. I don't want to repeat them, but they're very important, especially when it comes to crew resource management, for instance.
We are going to resume the meeting immediately please, since people are here and are quite anxious to testify before the committee.
During this second hour, it is our pleasure to welcome Mr. Greg McConnell, national chair of the Canadian Federal Pilots Association, Mr. Jean-Marie Richard, aviation safety consultant, as well as Mr. Dan Adamus, Canada Board president of the Air Line Pilots Association International.
Gentlemen, thank you for being here.
Mr. McConnell, you now have the floor for five minutes. We are going to be very strict with allotted time.
Thank you and good afternoon.
CFPA members work as Transport Canada's most highly skilled aviation inspectors. I am here to add their front-line perspective to this very important study.
Our message is sobering. We are witnessing the dismantling of aviation safety oversight in Canada and the progressive weakening of Transport Canada's inspectorate. This state of affairs has been years in the making. Piece by piece, the checks and balances that have delivered one of the safest aviation systems in the world are falling victim to cost-cutting and misguided management. Meanwhile, the perishable skills and competencies of inspectors are deliberately being allowed to wither.
All the while, Transport Canada officials reassure you that all is well. But consider this: a dangerous culture of non-compliance and secrecy has set in over the years. Transport Canada has come to regard safety regulations and international safety requirements as little more than inconveniences that can be ignored to satisfy budget limitations or industry pressure, without regard to public safety. I say “dangerous” because this culture affects aviation in Canada at large.
In a recent example, last August, without consultation and in secret, Transport Canada completely withdrew or reduced safety oversight from significant portions of aviation, including all airports in the country, business aircraft like those in which Jim Prentice and Jean Lapierre died, urban heliports, and aircraft that do dangerous work like fire bombing.
While reassuring you that inspection is robust, Transport Canada watered down its inspection process in order to boost its 2016 performance metrics. These and other decisions have been taken without notice to Parliament, MPs, or the public, through a bureaucratic tool called an internal process bulletin, a practice the department is using with increasing regularity.
Transport Canada is quietly planning to roll back oversight even further by completely washing its hands of monitoring the proficiency of pilots, delegating professional pilot exams to industry, and allowing airlines to set their own operational safety standards without checking. With the cancellation of the inspection and audit manual, Transport Canada gave up its ability to ensure compliance with the safety regulations. The singular reliance on SMS puts Canada offside with ICAO, which requires member states to establish and maintain safety through direct operational oversight. In fact, Canada fails to meet more than half of ICAO's mandatory minimum safety requirements. That's right: Transport Canada is offside with eight out of 13 of ICAO's mandatory minimums. These are requirements, not suggestions. Our assessment of Canada's performance in this regard can be found at tab four of our handout.
In keeping with its default towards secrecy, Transport Canada hasn't notified ICAO of these deficiencies, as member states are required to do.
You may be wondering how it is possible for my remarks to be so different from the story you heard earlier from Transport Canada. I was struck by the misleading nature of the testimony you heard from officials. It deserves a reality check, which we have produced for your information. This can be found at tab five.
We should be able to provide the minister with a signed written statement that the inspected airline is fully compliant with all safety regulations. Right now, an inspector is not able to do that. That is why I urge your committee to recommend that the government reinstate compliance audits to determine whether or not an airline is in compliance with safety requirements.
On behalf of the public, the minister needs to know if the airlines are meeting safety requirements, not whether or not they have a good SMS. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the public is expecting the minister to trust the airlines to act in their own self-interest but also to verify that safety standards and requirements are being met. Without this change, an aviation disaster on the scale of Lac-Mégantic is very likely.
Transport Canada must be put on a tighter leash. There should be no more sweeping decisions to dismantle oversight made in secret. Transport Canada should be required to justify in a public forum, such as this committee, why less oversight means more safety.
It has been more than a decade since ICAO last audited Transport Canada's safety oversight system; this happened in 2005. Your committee should recommend that Transport Canada invite ICAO to complete a full assessment of Canada's compliance with minimum international safety requirements.
Finally, we concur with Justice Virgil Moshansky's recommendation for a commission of inquiry into aviation safety oversight. We agree that it's long overdue.
Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee, for your invitation to appear today.
My presentation will be from a regional perspective, more down-to-earth and less strategic than the other witness presentations.
I worked for 26 years in management at the Civil Aviation Directorate of Transport Canada. Since 2010, I have been providing training on aviation safety in different institutions.
We are in a period of continuous aviation safety improvement, and we must make the necessary efforts to ensure that this situation continues. Nine years after the implementation of the Transport Canada Civil Aviation Oversight Program, its relevance and effectiveness are still being questioned.
My presentation covers three areas. First, the oversight of Transport Canada, in effect since 2008. The simultaneous implementation of the new surveillance procedures, including increased surveillance, program validation inspections or PVIs, SMS assessments, and the civil aviation internal organization, have had a significant impact on the industry oversight. At first, PVIs revealed that operations managers lacked operational control, which could have been avoided if they had the necessary tools, like quality assurance, to exercise that control. Thus, the SMS airlines' implementation undertaken in 2005, should be completed by the addition of the quality assurance element. For enterprises that do not have an SMS, the implementation could be done over a longer period, starting with quality assurance.
Secondly, I'd like to speak to the training of civil aviation personnel. In the Quebec region, training gaps were identified in 2013. Corrective actions require a regional investment and appropriate headquarters support.
My third topic is training within the industry. Since December 2014, the public no longer has access to all Transport Canada documentation, and this has made the preparation of training courses far more difficult. We are missing a lot of information. I provide further details in the brief I prepared for you.
I will do my best to answer your questions to the best of my abilities.
Thank you, Mr. Chair and members.
ALPA is the largest non-governmental safety and security agency in the world. This allows us a unique ability to provide professional pilot expertise.
Our brief, which we submitted earlier, highlights several important areas where aviation safety could be enhanced. For the sake of time today, I would like to highlight one issue: fatigue management.
For many years, Canada has lagged far behind the rest of the world in adopting science-based fatigue rules. While work began in the 1990s, no progress was made until a 2010 working group, composed of representatives from industry and government, developed recommendations for meeting ICAO standards.
In 2014, Transport Canada issued a notice of proposed amendment, NPA, dealing with fatigue management. This NPA very closely mirrored the working group report that, in our view, was very much a reasonable and responsible compromise in order to move the process forward. Although not all of ALPA's concerns were addressed in the report, it was as step in the right direction.
Unfortunately, the 2014 NPA has since been diluted, as witnessed in the notice of intent, NOI, that was recently issued by Transport Canada. While one can only speculate why this has happened, we are aware of many operators that have been lobbying for change to the NPA based on economic or operational concerns, not safety concerns.
In the current proposal, we have five key areas of concern.
One, these rules would not apply to all commercial pilots.
Two, the implementation period for smaller operators is way too long.
Three, if the current proposal proceeds, Canada will have one of the highest monthly flight hours and the highest monthly duty hours in the world.
Four, Transport Canada stated in the 2014 NPA that aerial work, air taxi, and commuter operations accounted for 94% of all commercial air accidents. However, the current proposal not only exempts aerial work entirely, but also gives air taxi and commuter operators four years to comply.
Five, fatigue risk management systems, FRMS, as outlined in the recent NOI, will allow operators to bypass the prescriptive rules without formal approval or oversight from the regulator. What perplexes us even more is that the draft proposal also permits aerial operators—and as I mentioned, the sector that has the highest accident record and that will be exempt from the rules—to obtain further relaxation of the current inadequate rules Canada has in place.
While the rest of the world has progressed in line with international standards, Canada's current rules continue to fall behind. In order to help advance Canadian aviation safety, ALPA recommends that Transport Canada proceed with the prescriptive rules as it proposed in the 2014 NPA, while taking into account ALPA's comments. Additionally, it is important that a one-year implementation period, applicable to all sectors of commercial aviation, be enacted.
Furthermore, we need to hit the pause button on FRMS. We believe in FRMS, but rushing this product to market without proper consultations with industry is setting up for failure. Over the course of your study, you have heard claims that the new regulations would be financially devastating to some operators. Our analysis does not support that.
Let's look at the U.S. as an example. It transitioned to new science-based rules just a few years ago. Initially, the large operators anticipated that they would require 3% more pilots and small operators 7% to 10% more pilots. However, a post-implementation study conducted by the RAND Corporation found that the impact of the new rules on pilot supply and demand was about half of what was anticipated.
To further demonstrate ALPA's concerns, we have provided you with a chart so you can see how Canada compares with several other countries. Green indicates where Canada would be ahead, yellow is for where it would be on par, white is for where data is missing or there's no comparable rule, and red is where Canada would remain behind. As you can see, there's a lot of red.
On behalf of not only our 55,000 members, but all Canadian pilots, we thank the committee for carrying out this very important study. I look forward to your questions on this and on other aviation safety issues.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to thank all of you, especially for adapting to today's irregular schedule, due to the votes and motions that were introduced.
My first question is for you, Mr. McConnell.
The comments you made are almost frightening. A few weeks ago, some officials from Transport Canada appeared before the committee and stated that oversight was very active.
Do you agree with that statement?
I might even go a little further and ask you whether, in your opinion, the number of inspectors in the field has increased or decreased.
There are a number of facets to your question. With respect to the number of inspectors, it's remained relatively stable. However, with attrition, new inspectors come in, and they're not being trained.
With respect to the activity of which Transport Canada has spoken, the number of inspections that they're conducting, rest assured that those numbers are not being met. I'm talking about the planned numbers that Transport Canada uses when they plan on a yearly basis to inspect the airlines. As a matter of fact, arguably 50% to 65% of their targets are not being met.
Due to the use of a secretive internal process bulletin, what they have done is reduce the complexity of inspection that they are now going to do. To understand that, you have three types of inspections: a full-scale assessment, which is a large assessment; a process validation inspection, which is a lesser degree of inspection; and the process inspection. They are moving toward process inspections only to keep their numbers up, so if that's the activity to which you are referring, then I guess they are increasing their activity.
I have to ask the question about what was mentioned earlier and, again, the contrast between Mr. McConnell and Mr. Richard. It was confusing in respect to the comment made about entering an aircraft and sometimes it can be a devastating expectation versus aircraft safety improving and continuing to improve.
We're expecting that the minister or the ministry is going to move forward within the next year, I would assume, with improvements to air safety, aviation safety, hence, the reason we're going through this exercise.
What are some of the things, Mr. Richard, that we're improving on? Then I'm going to go to Mr. McConnell on some of the things that we can improve more on.
Mr. Chair, echoing others' comments seems to have become the way to do things. I would still like to clarify, for the record, that during the same hour, on May 9, we will hear from not only Minister Garneau, but also the and officials. If you are telling me that I will have time to ask all my questions in one minute, I really don't see how I will manage. It seems to me that we are stretching the limits a bit.
Gentlemen, thank you for being with us. The last thing you could be accused of this morning is using doublespeak. So I thank you for shedding light on this issue, which has been a concern for us for months.
I always think about the well-known saying that we can always do more with less. Over the past two years, the budget has not contained a single line on aviation safety. The funding has decreased by $7 million. In addition, there have been no reinvestments and no announcements. That is why I have a hard time believing that this will not have an impact on aviation safety.
Mr. McConnell, do you have an idea of how many safety management system inspections your members carried out last year?