Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Sting

Two Transport Canada officials came by one day, and planted themselves in a public area in our lounge, with a good view of the ramp. No one likes to see Transport swoop into the company unexpectedly, and it was amusing to see pilots swerve away from them, and find another direction to walk in.

"What are they doing here?" I asked a colleague.

"They're going to do an enforcement action on Air Raccoon," he replied.

"How do you know?"

"I heard them discussing it next door."

There they were, clearly keyed up with anticipation of triumph, grinning and sidling up to each other, as the Raccoon-marked airplane taxied in and parked. ID badges carefully adjusted, windbreakers zipped up and clipboards at the ready, they strolled out through the security doors to the tarmac, towards the offending aircraft. The mood evoked drawn guns and the bulk of bulletproof vests. We all craned our necks around the corner and hummed the theme song from COPS. Apparently the aircraft had been loaded so obviously over its gross weight that someone had reported it. I'm not sure what the fine or penalty was.

As I write this, I realize that it's really rather nice that aviation enforcement doesn't actually involve armed takedowns. Two badges and two stern looks almost certainly brought that pilot to the professional equivalent of being handcuffed face down on the pavement. Whatcha going to do when they come for you?


Anonymous said...

Being that Transport Canada from my understanding allows operations to so much as carry external loads without STCs (like uh, canoes and antlers) how exactly did they get the plane so loaded that someone thought it was obviously over gross?

And who would report such a thing, the aviation equivalent of "narcing" on another pilot? Is that taboo?

Your blog is great, thank you very much for the time you spend writing it and sharing it with everyone.

Aviatrix said...

I don't know the details. It could be something like a Transport Canada representative being at the point of departure for some other reason and observing loading of the aircraft that contradicted the signed loadsheet. Or maybe the pilot was rude to a fueller who filled the tanks, counted the number of people who got on board, and did the math.

It's not really taboo, as accidents sustained in a poor operation reflect on the whole industry, and operators who cut corners on safety undercut those who are trying to play by the rules, so it's in our interest to have safety issues addressed.

I worked for a sleazy operator once who was always calling Transport over alleged transgressions by his competitors.