OTTAWA - New safety requirements announced Wednesday by the transport minister will help pilots navigate through rough weather and reduce chances of colliding with unseen obstacles.
The new regulations require private turbine-powered and commercial planes with six or more passenger seats be equipped with the Terrain Awareness Warning System (TAWS), which alerts flight crews to obstacles in time to avoid collisions.
"Terrain awareness and warning systems will help save lives," Transport Minister Denis Lebel said.
Daniel Slunder, chairman of the Canadian Federal Pilots Association, called TAWS a "wonderful tool" and said his organization has been pushing to make TAWS a requirement since 2003.
"Frankly, from 2003 until today, and then it¹s going to take another two years to install? That¹s unacceptable."
A spokesman for the transport ministry said the regulation will bring Canada in line with the International Civil Aviation Organization standards and closer to those in the U.S. and EU.
Slunder sees this as evidence of how far is behind Canada.
"We're behind the times," Slunder said. "I think there was a backlash because of the cost. To install TAWS will cost money, but the price of equipment has been going down."
Wendy Tadros, chair of the Transportation Safety Board, said TAWS will be especially helpful to small aircraft, which she said are more vulnerable in low-visibility conditions.
"Given Canadian geography, these accidents happen," she said. "This system provides a last line of defence."
TAWS specifically addresses "controlled flight into terrain" (CFIT) accidents, when a plane crashes into an undetected surface.
Todros said CFIT accidents make up 5% of all aviation accidents in Canada, but 25% of the fatalities.