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CUPE applauds the courage and commitment of federal safety inspectors and their union, the Canadian Federal Pilot’s Association, who are speaking out against proposed changes to federal legislation governing airline safety.

Nearly three-quarters of surveyed federal aviation safety inspectors think a major airline accident is likely to occur in the near future and 61% believe a new approach to regulating the industry will actually increase this likelihood, according to a survey released February 21, 2007.

The likelihood of air travel fatalities in the near future is growing as Transport Canada hands airlines more powers to self-monitor, says the Pollara survey of 247 licensed pilots employed as aviation inspectors by the federal government.

Canada’s aviation inspectors have serious safety concerns. Funding cuts are undermining Transport Canada’s capacity to ensure safety. Meanwhile, proposed legislation to amend the Aeronautics Act, Bill C-6, will make this bad situation worse.

Inspectors feel strongly that they’re being prevented from catching safety issues before something happens and they’re very concerned that this is being done because of a lack of resources,” said Greg Holbrook, national chair of the inspector’s union, the Canadian Federal Pilot’s Association, which commissioned the survey. “You don’t have an independent investigation arm anymore. It’s companies looking after themselves.”

Holbrook, who testified yesterday before a federal standing committee on proposed changes to the Aeronautics Act (Bill C-6), defined “major” accidents as those involving deaths.

Government inspectors whose job it is to keep the flying public safe are urging Transport Canada to reverse its new approach to safety oversight – a strategy which calls for less enforcement action by government inspectors and more self-monitoring by companies.

Inspectors surveyed said that cost pressures in the tight-margin airline industry will drive for-profit companies to weigh safety decisions, with financial implications in mind. And that, they say creates a disaster waiting to happen.

CUPE represents airline flight attendants.