Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Pilots Union Wants Transport Canada to Check Foreign Pilot Credentials

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Pilots Union Wants Transport Canada to Check Foreign Pilot Credentials

Article excerpt

Pilots union wants Transport Canada changes


OTTAWA - A Canadian pilots union says Transport Canada should be responsible for checking the credentials of foreign pilots.

The call comes after Miroslav Gronych, who was employed by Sunwing Airlines on a work visa from Slovakia, was charged with being impaired in Calgary after allegedly passing out in a cockpit Dec. 31.

Greg McConnell, chairman of the Canadian Federal Pilots Association, said Transport Canada is shirking its responsibility by asking air operators to check foreign pilots' licences and their medical records.

"It used to be that when foreign pilots came into Canada to do work for airlines, that we would check their licence and medical validities with the foreign authorities," McConnell said Friday.

"That doesn't take place anymore. That responsibility is left up to the individual air operator."

The association represents licensed pilots who work as aviation safety inspectors at Transport Canada.

A foreign civil aviation authority might not be comfortable providing that information to somebody who isn't representing another aviation authority, he said.

"The fact that type of checking is no longer going on -- I don't think that's a very good idea."

The Sunwing flight was scheduled to leave Calgary last Saturday with stops in Regina and Winnipeg before continuing on to Cancun, Mexico. Police allege Gronych was found slumped over in his seat and then escorted off the plane.

Gronych was released on $1,000 bail and was ordered to turn in his passport. He was also prohibited from flying a plane in Canada while on bail.

The allegations against Gronych have not been tested in court.

In a letter to passenger airlines, Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he was very concerned by the Calgary incident. Airlines have until Feb. 15 to confirm their measures to ensure flight crew members are fit to fly, and that the procedures are strictly enforced, he said.

"The incident in Calgary reminds us all of the need to ensure that protocols are up to date and that they are being implemented with all the required resources, including measures designed to confirm pilots' fitness to fly,'' he wrote. …

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