There could be a big problem with the way Canada trains and tests its airline pilots. A recent spike in accidents has caused critics to point the finger at the country's policies for aviation safety. Those critics are claiming that the current rules place too much responsibility with airlines to monitor themselves. In addition, cuts to inspector training programs being run by Transport Canada are also potentially weakening the integrity of the country's aviation industry.
Canada's pilot proficiency test is what is at the heart of the growing concern over aviation safety in Canada. New data gathered by the country's House of Commons is revealing something interesting and troubling regarding the scores of this test. It turns out that failure rates for the test are lower if pilots are being evaluated by colleagues than if they are being evaluated by official Transport Canada inspectors.
The problem is that Transport Canada doesn't currently have enough inspectors to cover all of the testing that is required. This is why pilots who are employed by airlines are often approved to administer pilot tests. It is a practice that has been in place for 25 years. It has become so common that approved testers now conduct 15,000 tests annually. Transport Canada inspectors only conduct 300 tests per year. Many people are now growing concerned that the airline-employed pilots may be too lenient when testing their colleagues. The average failure rate of pilots who are tested by colleagues is half that of pilots who are tested by official Transport Canada inspectors.