Canada Flight Supplement

Certified and Registered Airports

Landing Reports

Runways and Taxiways

Closed Runways

Runway Touchdown Zone

Runway Lighting

Runway Thresholds

Mandatory Instruction Signs

Direction Signs

Manoeuvring Areas

People, Vehicles, and Animals


The Circuit

Uncontrolled Airports

Mandatory Frequency Airports

MF and MFA Airports

Controlled Airports

NORDO Operations (light-gun signals)

Clearances and Instructions

Airspace Classification

Northern and Southern Domestic Airspace

Class A

Class B

Class C

Class D

Class E

Class F

Class G

VHF and LF Airways

Control Zones

Terminal Control Area

Control Area Extensions and Transition Areas

VFR Weather Minimum

Special VFR

VFR Over-the-Top

Cruising Altitudes

Altimeter Rules

VFR Flight Plans


National Security

Emergency Location Transmitters (ELT)

Priority Radio Communications

Transponder Requirements

Fuel Requirements

Passenger Briefings

Pilot Privilege



Wake Turbulence

Wake Turbulence Regulations

Wake Turbulence Rules of Thumb

Jet Blast Hazzard

Seat Requirements


Required Aircraft Documents

Operational and Emergency Equipment Requirements



Night VFR

Additional Equipment Requirements

Checklists and Placards

Charts and Publications

Fire Extinguisher

Timepiece and Flashlight

First Aid Kit

Survival Equipment

Lifejackets and Life Raft

Aircraft Icing

Minimum Altitude

Right of Way

Landing and Takeoff Safety

Animal Conservation

Dropping Objects from Aircraft

Formation Flying


Compliance with Air Traffic Control

Final Authority of the Pilot-in-command

Speed Limits

Altimeter Rules

Night Landings and Takeoffs

Flight Preparations

Airport Operations—General


Two types of airports exist in Canada: an aerodrome: which is “any area of land or water designed for arrival, departure, and movement of aircraft,” and an airport, which is an aerodrome that is certified by Transport Canada for either public or private use.


Canada Flight Supplement

The Canada Flight Supplement (CFS) is essentially a published directory of all registered and certified airports in Canada and describes the physical layout of runways and taxiways, radio frequencies, etc.—information that is crucial for the pilot to refer to when flying to an airport or aerodrome.  (Unless otherwise indicated, reference in this manual to “airports” will generically imply both certified airports and non-certified aerodromes.)

Certified and Registerd Airports

Certification of an airport by Transport Canada ensures that the airport meets the enhanced safety and operational standards, and that it is inspected regularly by Transport Canada.  Certification is required when an aerodrome is located in a build-up area of a town or city, or when scheduled passenger service is provided. 


In contrast, when an aerodrome is registered, basic standards are still met, but there no involvement by Transport Canada with respect to the oversight of safety standards.  The registration of an aerodrome simple means the operator has provided aerodrome information to Transport Canada so that airport data will appear in the Canada Flight Supplement and other published documents, such as maps (AIM, AGA, 1.0).

Landing Reports

The pilot of an aircraft must report the aircraft’s landing to the operator of the airport (or the operator’s representative), listed in the Canada Flight Supplement (CFS).


Also, when you land at an airport with a control tower or a Flight Service Station (FSS), the landing is automatically reported to the operator.  When you land at an airport where no such representative exists, the pilot must sign a “registry”—usually posted in the main terminal or office.  This is required if you should land at Chilliwack, for example.  The registry records the aircraft and pilot information, as well as the arrival and departure time of the aircraft, as well as its proposed destination.  In the event that an aircraft is missing, the registries will be used during the search response, so it is important to use them properly.

Runways and Taxiways

As is indicated in the diagram above (Victoria Airport), runways are numbered in accordance with magnetic track in Southern Domestic Airspace (as opposed to true track in the Northern Domestic Airspace—we will discuss the difference below), the number is rounded to the nearest 10° increment and the third digit is dropped (340° equals 34).


Taxiways are lettered (Alpha for A, Bravo for B, etc.).  Aprons (aircraft loading and servicing areas) are numbered.  Yellow lines track the centre of taxiways, and broad double yellow lines (one solid, and one dashed) indicate the “hold-short” positions.

Closed Runways

A closed runway or taxiway is indicated by a white or yellow “X” that is 20 ft. in length.


Where a runway at an airport does not have a prepared landing surface, the takeoff and landing area will be delineated by international orange and white markers; at an aerodrome, the same area will be shown by international orange markers (no white).

Runway Touchdown Zone

Hard-surface runways have touchdown zone markings that are one or more paired stripes that appear on either side of the centreline markings at specified distances.  The number of touchdown zone markings depends on the length of the runway (landing distance available—LDA), and with runways 800 metres in length or longer, include a larger aiming point marker that appears at a specified distances (250, 300, and 400 metres as indicated below).

Runway Lighting

The minimum runway lighting required for night operations at an airport is two parallel lines of fixed white lights visible for two miles and which marks the landing and takeoff areas.  Some registered aerodromes are approved to use retro-reflective markers instead of runway lights.

Runway Thresholds

The location of a runway threshold can be adjusted two ways, the first is by what is referred to as a displaced threshold, and the second is referred to as stopways.  Displaced thresholds are used when natural or human-made obstacles penetrate the obstacle clearance standards for the approach—they can be temporary or permanent.  Stopways, in contrast, are prepared areas located at the end of some runways that can be used for stopping in case a takeoff is abandoned or rejected.


A displaced threshold is marked with white arrows pointing to the displaced threshold marker, and can be used for taxiing, and the takeoff and landing roll.


Stopways, by comparison, are marked with yellow chevrons and are not to be used for taxiing, nor the takeoff and landing rolls.

Mandatory Instruction Signs

Mandatory Instruction Signs are signs located where a taxiway leads onto a runway and instructs the pilot to hold short and clear the runway; these signs are indicated by white letters, numbers, or symbols against a red background, and they mark the "taxi holding position."  



In the depiction below indicates Mandatory Instruction Signs for Taxiway A (on the left), and B (on the right) for runway 34/16 (AIM AGA Fig. 5.14).

Mandatory Instruction Signs with Taxiway


Where aircraft movements are supervised by a Control Tower, Mandatory Instruction Signs require that a clearance be received by the pilot before proceeding further; where aircraft movements on a runaway are not controlled by a control tower, the pilot can only proceed beyond a Mandatory Instruction Sign if he or she has determined it safe to do so.  If the Mandatory Instruction Sign is not visible, the aircraft requires a clearance before proceeding closer than 200' from the edge of the runway (AIM RAC 4.2.6).

Direction Signs

Direction (location) Signs do not display the colour red, but are based on either a black or yellow background, and give the present location of the aircraft (black background), and the approaching taxiway (yellow background).

Manoeuvring Areas

The Manoeuvring Area of an airport or aerodrome refers to the areas used for the taking off and landing, as well as taxiing of aircraft, but excludes the aprons.  Aprons denote areas were passengers and cargo are loaded and unloaded, and where aircraft are serviced or parked.  (Note that questions related to the definitions of manoeuvring area and apron commonly appear on Transport Canada examinations.)

People, Vehicles, and Animals

It is prohibited for persons to walk, stand, drive or park any vehicle, or cause any obstruction of aircraft movement at an airport without permission from a control tower or from the operator of the airport where a control tower does not exist.  Additionally, no person may allow any animal in their care to run at large within the boundaries of an airport.


Windsocks indicate wind direction and speeds.  The sock is horizontal for winds greater than 15 KTS (KT), 5° below horizontal for 10 KT, and 30° below for 6 KT.

The Circuit

Traffic circuits (referred to as “traffic patterns” in the US) are standard patterns located 1000’ AGL (above ground level) flown by aircraft for the purposes of landing and taking off.  They are composed of two sides: downwind and upwind.  In a standard circuit, the downwind side is the active side, while the upwind side is the non-active or “dead” side.  The active side is comprised of four “legs”: crosswind leg, downwind leg, base leg, and final leg.  A fifth leg commonly referred to is the crosswind midfield leg.


Uncontrolled Airports

Uncontrolled airports lack Air Traffic Control (ATC); instead, pilots broadcast their positions on a UNICOM VHF frequency.  (“Unicom” is derived from “universal communication,” and these frequencies are listed in the Canada Flight Supplement.) We refer to such airports as ATF airports—Aerodrome Traffic Frequency.



When departing from an uncontrolled airport, pilots broadcast prior to moving onto a runway, when commencing takeoff roll, and when clear of the circuit.


When arriving, they report their position (including altitude), intentions, and ETA when 5 minutes from the airport area; they report when joining the circuit, when established on final approach, and when clear of the runway after landing.


Pilots flying continuous circuits report midway point on the downwind leg, when on final, and when clear of the runway after landing.


NORDO (no radio) aircraft operate freely at uncontrolled airports.


To reduce the risk of traffic conflict, the rules for joining the circuit are restrictive.  At ATF airports pilots must position themselves on the upwind side of the active runway (runway in-use) and cross over to the downwind side at circuit altitude.  Crossing over the runway in this manner, the track of the aircraft is essentially perpendicular to the downwind leg.  When the pilot has sufficient distance from the runway to provide room to manoeuvre the aircraft, a left turn or right turn (depending on the direction of the published circuit) is made to enter the downwind leg abeam the mid-point of the runway.  A pilot may also join straight-in on the downwind leg (at circuit altitude), but only if this does not create a hazard to other aircraft.  Whenever joining the circuit, the pilot should report over the radio if able when turning on to the downwind leg.

 If the departure requires a turn back toward the airport, this should not be initiated until the aircraft is at least 500’ above circuit altitude (AIM RAC 4.5.2).

Mandatory Frequency Airports

Busy uncontrolled airports have mandatory frequencies (MF), as published or indicated in the Canada Flight Supplement.


Typically MF airports are those which are busier than ATF airports, but not busy enough to warrant a control tower.  They are also typically found at airports with frequently used “instrument approaches,” where pilots use navigation equipment to make an approach for landing while still in the clouds (without visual reference to the ground). 


At an MF airport, position reporting by pilots over a prescribed VHF frequency is mandatory, and all pilots must maintain a listening watch. 


Many MF airports have ground stations in operation, which provide an air traffic advisory service.  These ground stations can take the form of a Flight Service Stations (FSS), a Remote Communication Outlet (RCO) through which a Remote Aerodrome Advisory Service (RAAS) is provided, a Community Aerodrome Radio Station (CARS), or an Approach UNICOM operators (AU).  Essentially, personnel operating these various ground stations are trained and qualified to provide advisory information to pilots—the FSS personnel are professionals employed by NavCanada and provide Air Traffic Services, while CARS and AU operators are qualified personnel employed by private entities.  If there is a ground station operational at an MF airport—irrespective of whether it is a FSS, CARS, or AU, pilot must direct there reporting to the ground operator; if there is no ground station, pilots must broadcast position and intentions on the MF frequency (CAR 602.98).


FSS units are referred to using the designator “Radio”—for example, the FSS unit which operates at Abbotsford airport during the late evening and early morning hours when the Abbotsford Control Tower is closed is Cranbrook FSS is referred to as “Cranbrook Radio.” 


Importantly, an FSS unit does not issue clearances to aircraft as a control tower does; instead, FSS simply provides an advisory service to pilots whereby pilots must keep FSS staff advised of their intentions and aircraft positions and movements.

MF and MFA Airports

There are two types of MF airports, the first is referred to as simply an MF airport, and the second is referred to as an MF Area airport (MFA).  MFA airports are essentially ATF airports where position reporting and radio monitoring is required; the rules for joining the circuit are identical to those for an ATF airport.  At an MF airport (not an MFA airport), there is a ground station through whom radio broadcasts are directed, and the rules for joining the circuit are more flexible to facilitate aircraft manoeuvring for landing after performing an instrument approach—pilots may join the circuit straight-in on the final or base legs, at a 45° angle to the downwind leg, or in addition to the procedures prescribed for ATF airports.  The ground station commonly relays traffic and wind information to inbound aircraft.  At an MFA airport, in contrast, there is no ground station, and radio communications are identical to ATF airports.

Controlled Airports

Controlled airports are surrounded by control zones which are controlled by an Air Traffic Control Unit (ATCU), usually a control tower (control zones are discussed later in this chapter).  However, some control zones, such as those which surround Nanaimo and Kamloops Airports, are administered by FSS where MF rules are in effect.  As a rule, control zones with control towers are considered to be Class C or D Control Zones, while control zones with FSS using MF rules are considered Class E Control Zones (classifications are discussed later in this chapter).


Prior to entering the control zone a pilot must contact the ATCU, usually a control tower, report his aircraft type, position and intentions.  The pilot is then normally provided with a clearance.  While in the control zone he must maintain a listening watch.


The tower controller may provide specific clearances, or he may say “cleared to the circuit” whereby the pilot is expected to join the downwind leg at circuit height.


Controlled airports have ATIS broadcasting frequencies (Automatic Terminal Information Service) which are monitored by pilots prior to entry.  (The ATIS frequencies are published in the Canada Flight Supplement.)

  1. The ATIS messages have a standard format (AIM RAC 1.3) that typically contain the following:

  2. Airport name

  3. ATIS message identifier letter (alpha, bravo, charlie, etc.) 

  4. Weather information, including:

    • time,

    • surface wind,

    • visibility, 

    • weather and obstructions to vision,

    • ceiling

    • sky condition

    • temperature,

    • dew point,

    • altimeter setting,

    • other pertinent remarks

  5. Type of instrument approach in use (for IFR aircraft)

  6. Landing runway in use (both VFR and IFR if applicable, as well as a description of any hold-short operations in effect with available stopping distance)

  7. Departure Runway (both VFR and IFR if applicable)

  8. NOTAM or any other operational information for the airport

  9. Instruction to pilots to acknowledge receipt of the ATIS upon initial contact with ATC.

Here is a sample ATIS (AIM RAC 1.3):


Hi is how the ATIS is referred to in the intial contact with ATC (AIM RAC 4.4.2) :

When the pilot reaches the circuit as cleared (clearance limit), the tower controller must be advised.  Note the common phraseologies associated with the tower controller's response (AIM RAC 4.4.2):

Courtesy: Transport Canada's AIM, RAC 4.4, Arrival Procedures - Controlled Airports

On occasion, owing to delays, a tower controller may require the pilot to remain clear of the control zone by circling visually over a know geographic landmark (AIM RAC 4.4.2).


Joining the Circuit Report

When an aircraft is established in the circuit as cleared by ATC, the pilot must advise the tower controller.  The tower will respond with the approach sequence number, and if the aircraft is not Number 1 in the sequence, tower will advise accordingly.  The AIM (RAC 4.4.2) reads as follows:


Landing Clearance

Pilots must obtain a landing clearance prior to landing, and this is normally initiated by the tower controller; if this does not occur, however, the onus is on the pilot to request a landing clearance (AIM RAC 4.4.3).


Simultaneous Runway Operations

Many controlled airport with multiple crossing runways are permitted simultaneous runway operations whereby two aircraft are permitted by ATC to have simultaneous landing clearances.  The hold-short clearance is issued to only one aircraft (typically the smaller of the two).  When a hold-short landing clearance is issued, the language used by the controller is specific, an the clearance must be read back by the pilot:


                             Controller:  “ABC, cleared to land Runway 27, hold short of Runway 36”

                                       Pilot:   “ABC is cleared to land Runway 27, hold short of Runway 36”


When the hold-short clearance is accepted, the pilot is obliged to remain 200’ short of the closest edge of the runway being intersected.  Also, if a pilot is unsure of being able to comply with a hold-short clearance, they must advise ATC immediately of the non-acceptance of the cleared—it is far betting to be safe than sorry (AIM RAC 4.4.9).

Hold Short Landing Clearance.JPG


Pull-up Instruction

On occasion, it may be required for the tower controller to require you to discontinue the landing; in such cases, the expression"pull-up" is used (AIM RAC 4.4.3).  This requires that the pilot abandon the approach and begin another circuit:


Common Approach/Landing Phrases

There are a variety of phases commonly used by tower controllers during the approach and landing phases (AIM RAC 4.4.3):


Cleared for the Option

To facilitate training, pilots can request “the option” to permit a variety of runway options—a “clearance for the option” issued by the tower controller means the pilot has the option to conduct a touch-and-go, low approach, missed approach, stop-and-go, or a full stop landing (AIM RAC 4.4.3).


Exiting the Runway

Pilots must obtain authorization from ATC to taxi maneuvering areas at controlled airports.  Unless specific instructions are issued by the tower controller, pilots are expected to continue in the landing direction to the nearest suitable taxiway and exit with out delay.  It is prohibited to exit a runway on to another runway without specific ATC authorization (AIM RAC 4.4.4).

NORDO Operations

NORDO traffic is restricted from entering control zones unless they receive special permission.


When NORDO flights are permitted, or in case of communication failures, ATC uses a light gun to communicate clearances, the interpretation of which is indicated in the table.


Light communications are acknowledged by the pilot by rocking the wings (day) or a single flash of the landing light (night).

The following is a video originally published by King Schools based in San Diego—since the video reflects the US FAA rules, you have to ignore the light signal requiring alternating red and green lights following a red flash—this is not in the Canadian signal series.  The video does give a good idea of how the light gun functions.  The second video demonstrates the appearance of the light gun during the day.



Below is a brief—but excellent—examination of the ATC procedures as Toronto Pearson Airport:

Clearances and Instructions

While in controlled airspace where ATC has authority for the operation of aircraft, controllers can issue two types of directives: a clearance, and an instruction.  An ATC clearance is an authorization issued by an ATC unit for an aircraft to proceed within controlled airspace in accordance with the conditions specified by that unit.  In contrast, an ATC instruction is a directive issued by an ATC unit for ATC purposes.


When a pilot has received and accepts a clearance, the clearance must be complied with, unless the pilot feels it unacceptable for reasons of operational safety.  If the pilot feels it is unacceptable, he or she must immediately inform ATC of this fact.


Acknowledgement of a clearance by a pilot is viewed by ATC as the pilot’s acceptance.


In contrast, an ATC instruction requires that a pilot comply unless aircraft safety is jeopardized.


An ATC clearance will be identified by the word “clear” somewhere in its contents.  An ATC instruction will be readily identified, but need not include the word “instruct.”


IMPORTANT:  Complying with a clearance or instruction does not relieve the pilot from any responsibilities for maximum flight safety and good Airpersonship (including obstruction clearance and distance from cloud or other aircraft).

Airspace Classification

The geographic classification of Canadian Airspace is specified in the Designated Airspace Handbook, something that is rarely seen in pilot bags, but which is available should detailed reference to airspace dimensions be required.

Northern and Southern Domestic Airspace                                                                  

Canadian Airspace is divided into two fundamental areas: Northern Domestic Airspace (NDA) and Southern Domestic Airspace (SDA).  The division has a few important rules: While the proper cruising altitude in the SDA is based on magnetic track, cruising altitude in the NDA is based on true track (discussed below).  Additionally, runway headings are also based on magnetic track in the SDA, while true track is used in the NDA.  Finally, rules for altimeter settings are also based on the SDA/NDA division (also discussed below).  


Canadian Airspace is further divided into seven classes, each providing individual rules of access, flight regulations, and Air Traffic Control (ATC) responsibility.


IMPORTANT:  Do not confuse the seven classes with rules of weather minimum regulations that are quite different.  Weather minima are established based on the fundamental difference between controlled and uncontrolled; for practical purposes, of the seven classes, only Class G is uncontrolled airspace.


The characteristic of the seven classes may be summarized as follows:

Class A
  • All airspace from 18000’ to Flight Level (FL) 600 (60,000’).

  • Controlled airspace (referred to as High Level Controlled Airspace) whereby all aircraft must have a clearance.

  • Only IFR flight is permitted.

  • Altimeters are set to 29.92” Hg. (Standard Pressure).

Class B          
  • All low-level controlled airspace from above 12500’ up to, but not including, 18000’.

  • Controlled airspace (referred to as Low Level Controlled Airspace) whereby aircraft must have a clearance.

  • Only IFR and Controlled VFR flight is permitted.

  • Altimeters are set to local pressure settings.

  • Transponders are required with Mode C (altitude encoding) capability.

  • Altimeter must have been tested within last 24 months.

  • Adequate navigation equipment required for flight planned route.

Class C          
  • Specifically defined airspace around designated airports described as terminal control areas and associated control zones.

  • Controlled airspace whereby both IFR and VFR are permitted but where VFR flights cannot enter until they receive a clearance from ATC.

  • ATC provides traffic separation to IFR flights, while VFR receive traffic information (and conflict resolution upon request).

  • The Pilot-in-command has the responsibility to avoid other aircraft, maintain terrain and obstruction clearance, and remain in VFR weather.

  • NOTE:  a pilot must communicate to ATC any concerns related to pilot responsibilities.

  • While operating in Class C, aircraft must be equipped for two-way radio communication, and must maintain a continuous listening watch.

  • Transponders are required with Mode C (altitude encoding) capability.

  • Class C airspace reverts to Class E status when ATC services are not operating.

Class D
  • Specifically defined airspace around designated airports described as terminal control areas and associated control zones.

  • Controlled airspace whereby both IFR and VFR are permitted, but where VFR flight must establish two-way communication with an appropriate ATC authority prior to entry.

  • IFR flights are provided with separation, while traffic information is provided to VFR flights.

  • While operating in Class D, aircraft must be equipped for two-way radio communication, and must maintain a continuous listening watch.

Class E
  • Specifically defined airspace normally associated with airways, control area extensions, and transition areas, including designated airports without an operating control tower.

  • Controlled airspace in which both IFR and VFR flight may operate; separation is provided to IFR flights, but there are no special requirements for VFR flights.

Class F
  • Airspace in which special activities take place, which may or may not restrict air traffic.

  • Class F airspace is specifically described in VFR Navigation Charts (VNCs), as well as a publication entitled Designated Airspace Handbook (Transport Canada).

  • The type of Class F airspace is indicated in the identifier published in charts, of which the following is a typical example: CYA123(T).  “CY” indicates that the airspace is in Canada. 

  • The third letter, in this case “A,” indicates the type of airspace; there are three types—”R” meaning “restricted” and “D” meaning “danger,” both of which cannot be entered as specified on the chart (“D” only appears in relation to restricted airspace in international waters), and “A” meaning “advisory,” which can be entered. 

  • Class F areas designated CYA are associated with special flight activity and caution should be used. 

  • The type of activity is indicated by the letter in parentheses “(T)” where “T” indicates flight training. 

  • Others are acrobatics (A), test flight areas (F), military training (M), hang gliding (H), parachuting (P), and soaring by gliders (S).

  • Unless otherwise specified, the radio frequency 126.7 MHz. should be monitored in Class F areas.

  • Class F restricted areas (CYR) may be created by Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) and may therefore not appear on charts.


Class G

  • Airspace not designated A, B, C, D or F, within which ATC has no authority or responsibility.

  • Uncontrolled airspace for both IFR and VFR traffic.

  • IMPORTANT: Unless, controlled airspace is specified on a chart, Class G uncontrolled airspace extends up to, but not including, 18000’.


Here, then, is a summary of the airspace classes:

VHF and LF Airways

Class E airspace between VHF Omni Range (VOR) transmitters and LF/MF (Non-Directional Beacon or NDB) transmitters form airways.


Airways have specified dimensions indicated on charts; they are always controlled airspace and therefore specified weather minima apply to VFR flight.


At or above 12500’ (i.e., up to 18000’) airways are automatically defined as Class B airspace, and therefore the requirements of Class B apply.


Where airways penetrate designated airports surrounded by Class C or D airspace, as indicated on charts, the respective rules of Class C or D airspace also apply.


Unless otherwise indicated on charts, airways are automatically based at 2200’ AGL.


Airways between VORs are referred to as Victor Airways (V21 for example).  They have a minimum width of 4 NM on either side of the VOR, which expands by 4.5° from the centre line.


Airways between NDBs have the same base and ceiling, but their minimum width is 4.34 either side of the beacon, and expands at the rate of 5° from the centre line.  The special weather minima for airways are described below (see other controlled airspace).


Control Zones

Control Zones surround specified airports indicated on charts. 


They usually have a 7 NM (nautical mile) radius and extend from the surface to 3000’ AAE (above aerodrome elevation) unless otherwise indicated (AIM, RAC, 2.7.3). 


They may be designated Class B, C, D or E airspace. 


Class B, C, and D Control Zones have control towers, while Class E control zones do not. 


Control zones are the only instance where control airspace—as well as the associated higher weather minima described below—extend to the surface. 


The purpose of control zones is to restrict VFR aircraft from operating in the vicinity of the airport when IFR traffic is making instrument approaches in conditions of low ceilings and poor visibility.


Terminal Control Area




Control Zones associated with larger airports are commonly surrounded by Terminal Control Areas (TCA).  


Keep in mind that large transport aircraft—as are operated by WestJet or Air Canada, for example—fly in accordance with Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), which enable them to safety penetrate cloud formations that commonly surround departure and destination airports.  (In contrast, Visual Flight Rules—VFR—requires pilots to keep visual contact with the earth’s surface, so pilots must fly around clouds.)  The expanded controlled airspace of a TCA is designed to provide separation between aircraft in high-density traffic areas or separation between IFR and VFR traffic. 


This especially makes sense when you consider that IFR pilots, when in cloud, cannot see other aircraft, but instead rely on Air Traffic Controllers to provide safe separation and therefore safe transition in and out of larger airports, so the TCA provides the means to keep VFR traffic away from departure and arrival streams of transport aircraft in the vicinity of these airports.


Also, remember that large transport aircraft required longer final approach and departure tracks in and out of airports—for bigger than the protected airspace of a 7 NM Control Zone.  Large transport aircraft, for example, will require more than 7 NM to descend for landing. 


An interesting demonstration of the work of TCA controllers is demonstrated in the video clip below, which uses time-lapse footage to capture shifting approach patterns of aircraft flying into Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport with vicinity thunderstorm activity:

At Edmonton International Airport there is a 7 NM Control Zone; but surrounding the Control Zone is 35 NM radius Terminal Control Area (TCA) which has the dimensions of an inverted “wedding cake”; as you get closer to the Control Zone, the floor of the TCA gets closer to the ground in accordance with numerous “step down” sectors. 


The rules of the TCA operations (Class C Airspace) are standard—a clearance from ATC is required prior to entry, Mode C Transponder, etc. 

Control Area Extensions and Transition Areas

While TCAs are either Class C or B (normally Class C), Control Area Extensions and Transition Areas are a lower grade of expanded controlled airspace—Class E.  As Class E controlled airspace, a clearance is not required to enter Control Area Extensions or Transition Areas, but higher weather minimum are required when flying in these areas.



Here, then, is a summary:

VFR Weather Minimum

Flight in all airspace is restricted to conditions above established weather minima—distance from existing clouds and flight visibility.  Pilots must know the minima.


As you can see above, there are two rules—weather minima for controlled airspace, and minima for uncontrolled airspace.  Within controlled airspace, a further distinction is made for flight within Control Zones, and, within uncontrolled airspace, a further distinction is made for flight at or above 1000’ AGL and flight below 1000’ AGL, and, with respect to uncontrolled airspace, a final distinction between day and night minimum.

Special VFR

When the weather in control zones (described above) is below VFR conditions (3 miles visibility and a 1000’ ceiling), VFR pilots can still conduct arrivals and departures, but only if they receive what is referred to as a special VFR clearance.


Special VFR is never offered—it must be requested by the pilot.  The request is normally granted, except when the VFR aircraft may be in conflict with IFR aircraft.  The minimum for Special VFR is 1-mile flight and ground visibility (when reported).  At night Special VFR will only be authorized for the purpose of landing at a destination airport.

VFR Over-the Top

This requires the pilot to be VFR-OTT rated and the weather minima are based on both the destination airport and the “cruise” portion of the flight. 


VFR-OTT is only permitted during the day. 


At all times the aircraft must be operated at least 1000’ vertical distance from cloud, and the flight visibility must be at least five miles. 


When operating between two layers, those layers must be at least 5000’ apart. 


On the basis of a Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF) or a Geographic Area Forecast (GFA)—to be discussed later in the course—the weather at the destination airport must be scattered or clear, with no forecast of precipitation, fog, thunderstorms, or blowing snow; where a TAF is used, these conditions must be forecast for a period no less than 1 hour before and 2 hours after the ETA; where an GFA is used, these conditions must be forecast no less than 1 hour before and 3 hours after the ETA.

Cruising Altitudes

When flying the Southern Domestic Airspace above 3000’ AGL, VFR flights flying west-bound (magnetic track of 180° to 359°) must fly at even 1000’ altitudes plus 500’; when flying east-bound (magnetic track of 360° to 179°) VFR flights must fly at odd 1000’ altitudes plus 500’.  Remember that true tracks are used in the Northern Domestic Airspace.

Altimeter Rules

The rules for altimeter use vary between the Southern Domestic Airspace and the Northern Domestic Airspace.  The Southern Domestic Airspace is referred to as the Altimeter Setting Region, and in this region the altimeter must be continually set to the nearest reported altimeter setting.  Before takeoff, the altimeter must be set to the airport reported setting, or, if not available, the airport elevation.  During flight, it must be set to the setting of the nearest reporting station (FSS or control tower).  Prior to landing, it must be set to the destination airport if available.


Northern Domestic Airspace is referred to as the Standard Pressure Region, where it is required that the Altimeter be set to 29.92”Hg—known as standard pressure.  The exception to this is prior to descent for landing and before taking off, when the airport setting, if available, or elevation is required.  When standard pressure is used by the pilot, he must refer to his altitude as “flight level” where, for example, 5,500’ is Flight Level 55 (FL055).


VFR Flight Plans

A flight plan must be filed with Air Traffic Services (ATS) for every flight except when:

  1. the flight is conducted within 25 nautical miles of the airport or departure or;

  2. a flight itinerary is filed with ATS or a responsible person


A Flight Plan must be closed by way of filing an Arrival Report with ATS no later than the Search and Rescue Action Initiation Time (SRAIT) specified in the flight plan, or, in the event an SRAIT was not specified by the pilot, no later than 60 minutes after last reported estimated time of arrival (ETA).  After these times search and rescue action is started (CAR 602.70).


Flight Itineraries can be used instead of Flight Plans.  The Flight Itinerary can be filed with ATS or left with a “responsible person”—i.e., any person who agrees to notify ATS if the aircraft does not arrive within the required time limits.  Where a Flight Itinerary is used, the pilot must report his or her arrival prior to the SRAIT (where an SRAIT has been specified) or within 24 hours of the last reported ETA (CAR 602.70).  The SRAIT or 24 hours is also the time at which the responsible person must report the overdue status to ATS.  The content of a Flight Itinerary is identical to the content of a Flight Plan.  Note that the responsible person must be advised how to advise ATS of overdue status.

Change to a Flight Plan

In the case of filed flight plan where there is an intended change in the route, duration, or destination airport, the pilot shall notify as soon as practicable an air traffic control unit, a flight service station, a community aerodrome radio station, or the responsible person, of the intended change (CAR 602.76 [3,4]).

Responsible Person

A “responsible person” means a person who has agreed to contact an air traffic control unit, a flight service station, a community aerodrome radio station, or a Rescue Co-ordination Centre, in the event the pilot’s aircraft is overdue. (CAR 602.70).


NOTAMS—which stands for Notices to Airpersons—are notices issued to pilots concerning the establishment, condition or change in any aeronautical facility, service, procedure or hazard.  The system of NOTAM distribution is designed to be timely, and it is accessed by pilots through personnel employed at Flight Service Station (FSS).  Normally, NOTAM information is provided to pilots when they obtain a weather briefing from FSS.  The idea is that a pilot who obtains a pre-flight briefing that includes NOTAMS will be informed of all up-to-the-minute information related to the flight.


When pilots obtain NOTAMs from FSS, they are interpreted and summarized by the FSS Specialist.  If you are required to read NOTAM text (which is quite rare), it is important that you understand the validity times.  In the example presented above, the NOTAM—which informs pilots of the closure of the grass runway at Langley Airport (CYNJ)—has a continuity number (the first two numbers in this sequence being the year of issue, and the remaining numbers being the number sequence within that year).  The grass runway is scheduled to be closed until approximately 1600 UTC on May 6th.  Because the expression “approximately” has been used, it is required that a cancelling NOTAM be issued before the runway is re-opened.


National Security

Air Defence Identification Zones, or ADIZ, are established in the coastal regions of Canada (CAR 602.145).   A Flight Plan or Flight Itinerary must be filed with ATS for any flight in an ADIZ (there is facility for “air filing” where ground communication is not possible at the departure airport). 


For VFR flights the Flight Plan or Flight Itinerary must indicate the estimated time and point of entry into the ADIZ.  If there is a change in the routing or ETA of ADIZ penetration, ATS must be advised. 


Specifically, the pilot must advise ATS if the aircraft is not expected to arrive within plus or minus five minutes of any specified reporting point, point of ADIZ entry, or destination with the ADIZ. 


ATS must be similarly advised if the aircraft is not within 20 NM of the planned point of ADIZ entry, or the planned routing centre line.


Also, within an ADIZ or other Canadian Domestic Airspace, pilots must be aware of security state referred to as ESCAT, which means Emergency Security Control of Air Traffic Plan.  When ESCAT is established, all takeoffs must have prior approval from ATS and pilots must land when required to do so by ATS.  ESCAT procedures are tested from time to time by way of a radio broadcast and will not disrupt normal flight other than the requirement to provide an acknowledgement to the test message. (By the way, ESCAT rules—previously referred to as SCATANA rules—came into effect for the first time following the tragic events of September 11th, 2001.

Emergency Location Transmitters (ELT)

All aeroplanes must be operated with an ELT on board (CAR 605.38—an exception is multi-engine, turbo-jet aeroplanes operating IFR south of 66° 30’ North Latitude.)  Aeroplanes may be operated for up to 30 days without a serviceable ELT provided the ELT is removed for repair and is sent to a maintenance facility, and a readily visible placard is placed in the cockpit indicating the ELT has been removed and the date of removal (CAR 605.39).



ELTs are impact monitors, and so the distress signal is activated by G-force; they can also be activated manually with a switch located directly on the ELT, or by way of a switch remotely accessed from the cockpit.  Passengers in general aviation aircraft are always briefed on ELT functions and use prior to a flight.


Two types of ELTs are in general use in Canada, identified generally by the radio frequency used to transmit the emergency signal—406 ELTs (406 MHz), and 121.5 MHz.  The 406 ELTs are automatically detected by a satellite network known as COSPAS-SARSAT; 121.5 ELTS are being phased out and 121.5 signals are now only detected by ground-based monitoring (aircraft and ATC monitoring).   


Testing of an ELT must be conducted only during the first five minutes of any hour and the test time must not exceed 5 seconds.

Priority Radio Communications

There are three types of priority radio communication that are recognized which are related to safety in air operations.


Distress: A condition of being threatened by grave and/or imminent danger and requiring immediate assistance.


Urgency: A condition concerning the safety of an aircraft or other vehicle, or of someone on board or within sight, but which does not require immediate assistance.


Safety: An indication that the station calling is about to transmit a message concerning the safety of navigation or important meteorological warnings.


At the top of the list is what are referred to as distress radio transmissions.  The radio format for a distress is the MAYDAY repeated three times, followed by the aircraft identification repeated three times, and is to be used when the aircraft sending the message is threatened by grave and imminent danger and requires immediate assistance.  A distress message can only be sent under the authority of the Pilot-in-command, and all stations—air and ground—must cease any transmission so as to ensure communications from the distressed party are not blocked or interrupted.  An example of the use of a distress message is shown below in Simon Lowe's 2007 video recording of engine failure during the takeoff of Thompson Airways Boeing 757.


Next are urgency radio transmissions.  The radio format for an urgency is the work PAN repeated three times, and it is to be used whenever the aircraft sending the message has an urgent communication related to the safety of a ship, aircraft, or some person on board one of these, or a person in sight.  Normal communications must be suspended until the matter is resolved.


The third priority in radio communication is referred to as safety messages.  The radio format for a safety message is the word SECURITY repeated three times, and this is used when the transmitting station is about to broadcast a message to aircraft during flight pertaining to the safety of navigation or weather (warnings).

Transponder Requirements





A transponder is a device sometimes required on aircraft that emit an identifying signal in response to being interrogated by a ground radar sweep from a secondary surveillance radar ground station. The transponder can transmit a four-digit octal numbers (each digit can be set between 0 and 7), as well as altitude data (referred to as Mode C, and which is based on standard pressure readings), while more sophisticated transponders equipped on larger transport aircraft have Mode S (Select) capability that provides an exchange of collision-avoidance data between aircraft collision-avoidance alert systems on board the aircraft.


Transponders with Mode C (automatic altitude reporting capability) are always required in Class A, B, and C airspace as discussed above, but are also required in Class D and E airspace as specified in the Designated Airspace Handbook and as indicated on VFR navigation charts.  Mode C, for example, is required in such Class D TCAs such as Winnipeg International and Halifax International, and the Class E airspace surrounding Regina and Moncton.  More sweepingly, however, Mode C is required in all Class E airspace between 10000’ and 12500 ASL with any area with ATC radar coverage.  While this does not appear on VHF navigation charts, this area includes much of the airspace in the provinces (AIM, COM 8.2):


Unless otherwise advised by ATC, transponder should be selected on Code 1200 for VFR flight at or below 12500’ ASL; above 12500’ ASL, Code 1400 should be selected.


Dedicated codes also exist for communication loss and flight emergencies; in the event of a communication failure, Code 7600 should be selected; in the event of an emergency, Code 7700 should be selected.

Fuel Requirements

Taking into account flying conditions, a VFR flight must have fuel sufficient to fly during the day to the intended place of landing, plus an additional 30 minutes at normal cruising speeds.  For night flight, the fuel reserves must be extended to 45 minutes.  In calculating fuel requirements, the pilot is required to make allowance for taxiing and foreseeable delays prior to takeoff, meteorological conditions, foreseeable air traffic routings and traffic delays, and, as is written in CAR 602.88(5)(e), “any other foreseeable conditions that could delay the landing of aircraft.”


It is illegal to refuel an aircraft with the engine running and while passengers are on board (this is specified in CAR 602.09, but note this restriction doesn't exist for commercial flight operations when stringent operational conditions are met).

Passenger Briefings

In accordance with CAR 602.89, the pilot must brief all passengers prior to takeoff with respect to the following:

  1. the location and means of operating emergency and normal exits, seat belts;

  2. the positioning and securing of seats, seat backs, and chair tables;

  3. the stowage of carry-on baggage;

  4. the location and means of operating oxygen equipment when required;

  5. the location and use of personal flotation devices when required;

  6. the location and use of first aid kits;

  7. the location and use of survival equipment when required;

  8. any prohibition against smoking.

Pilot Privilege

For the purpose of training, a private pilot can fly any aircraft provided no passengers are being carried and he/she is under direct supervision of an authorized person. 


The holder of a flight crew permit, licence, or rating can only exercise the privileges of their permit, licence, or rating if they have acted as Pilot-in-command of an aircraft within the preceding five years (CAR 401.05).


If a private pilot wishes to fly with passengers, he or she can only fly an aircraft category, class, or type that is endorsed on his licence.


To fly with passengers, a pilot must have flown at least five takeoffs and landings in aircraft of the same category and class within the preceding six months to fly with passengers at night, the required five takeoffs and landings must have been flown at night within the preceding six months [CAR 401.05 (2)(i)].


The Minister of Transport has the authority to cancel or suspend your licensed privileges under two conditions: he has reasonable grounds to believe you have violated any provisions of the rules and regulations that govern flying, or he has reasonable grounds to believe you are incompetent or medically unfit to fly.


A pilot is required to desist from flying when he is aware of acquired physical disabilities that make him unable to pass his medical.



No person will fly while under the effect of a drug that compromises the safety of flight, while under the influence of alcohol, or within 8 hours of consuming an alcoholic beverage.


With regard to Alcohol and flying, the AIM (AIR, 3.9) states as follows:


Never fly while under the influence of alcohol. It is best to

allow at least 24 hr between the last drink and take-off time.

Alcohol is selectively concentrated by the body into certain

areas and can remain in the fluid of the inner ear even after all

traces of alcohol in the blood have disappeared. This accounts

for the difficulty in balance that is experienced in a hangover.

Even small amounts of alcohol (0.05 percent) have been shown

in simulators to reduce piloting skills. The effect of alcohol

and hypoxia is additive, and at 6 000 ft ASL (1 830 m), the

effect of one drink is equivalent to two drinks at sea level.

The body metabolizes alcohol at a fixed rate and no amount of

coffee, medication or oxygen will alter this rate. ALCOHOL



With spinal or general anaesthetics, a pilot should not fly until a doctor says it is safe to do so.  With respect to local anaesthetics involving extensive procedures (such as the removal of several wisdom teeth), a pilot should not fly for 24 hours.

Wake Turbulence

Wake turbulence is caused by wing tip vortices that are produced by the air pressure differential above and below the wing.



The vortex can produce structural loads as high as 10g.  Additionally, it can rotate at a rate of 80° per second—twice the roll rate of some light aircraft—and produce downdrafts of 1,500 feet per minute—twice the climb rate of some light aircraft (AIM, AIR, 2.9.2).


The strongest vortices are generated by heavy-weight, clean-configuration aircraft, at slow speeds.  Accordingly, the worst is a heavy jet during touchdown and takeoff phases.  Helicopters produce dangerously concentrated vortices.

It takes 2 minutes for the strength of vortices to dissipate (the smoother the air [non-turbulent], the slower the dissipation).


During touchdown, the generation of vortices does not stop until the jet’s nose-wheel touches down.

During takeoff, the vortices are generated as soon as the jet rotates.


Vortices tend to spread out at a speed of 5 KT.  A 5 KT crosswind can therefore hold one of the vortices over the touchdown or takeoff area, or cause them to migrate to adjacent runways.

Wake Turbulence Regulations

In Canada, aircraft are classified with respect to wake turbulence as per the following:


(AIM, RAC 4.1.1     )



If a departure occurs at an airport where the ATC tower unit does not have access to radar (a “non-radar departure”), controllers will apply a two-minute separation interval to any aircraft that takes off into the wake of a known heavy aircraft if

  1. the aircraft concerned commences the takeoff from the threshold of the same runway; or

  2. any aircraft departs from the threshold of a parallel runway located less than 2,500’ from the runway just used by a heavy aircraft.


Caution: ATC does not apply this two-minute spacing interval to light aircraft following a medium aircraft in the event of the above circumstances, but simply issues wake turbulence advisories—“CAUTION—WAKE TURBULENCE.”


Be aware (but you need not memorize) that a three-minute separation interval is applied by controllers in a non-radar environment to any aircraft that takes off following a heavy aircraft, or any light aircraft following a medium if

  1. the following aircraft begins its takeoff roll from an intersection or from a point further along the runway than the preceding aircraft; or

  2. the controller has reason to believe that the following aircraft will require more runway length for takeoff than the preceding aircraft.


In all cases, ATC tower controllers will advise affected pilots when the interval has been applied; for example:


Tower:   “Negative, hold short for wake turbulence.  Heavy Boeing 747, Rotating at 6000’,” or

Tower:   “Line up and wait.  Wake turbulence, Heavy DC10 Airborne at 2 miles.”


To facilitate occasions when the threat of wake turbulence is reduced—as may be the case with a steady crosswind—pilots may waiver the applicable time spacing interval.  There are instances where a waiver request cannot be granted—when a light or medium behind a heavy is planning an intersection departure (or a departure down-runway), or—in all cases—when the heavy has conducted a missed or low approach over the runway surface.


Below is the FAA's 1995 pilot training video Wake Turbulence Avoidance (24 minutes):

Wake Turbulence Rules of Thumb

On the Ground

  • Before requesting clearance to cross a live runway, wait a few minutes if a large aircraft has just landed or taken-off.

  • When holding near a runway, anticipate wake turbulence.



  • When cleared to takeoff after a departing large aircraft, plan to become airborne prior to that aircraft’s rotation path, staying above or turning away from its departure path.

  • When cleared to take off after a landing large aircraft, plan to become airborne after its nose-down point.


Climb after takeoff

When faced with the risk of an encounter during the climb after takeoff, offset your track upwind fromthe aircraft in trail:

In flight

  • Avoid flight below and behind large aircraft.  Note the vorticies are active 5 miles in trail of the aircraft and descend to almost 1000' at that distance.

Approach for landing

When faced with the risk of an encounter during the approach for landing, offset you track upwind from the aircraft in trail:


  • When cleared to land behind a departing large aircraft, plan to touchdown before the rotation point.

  • When cleared to land behind a landing large aircraft, remain above its flight path, and plan to touch-down after its nose-down point.

  • Plan approach to avoid vortices generated by aircraft operating on parallel or cross runways.

  • It is crucial for safety that all pilots realize that, while ATC is required to issue wake-turbulence cautions, avoidance is solely the pilot’s responsibility.

Jet Blast Hazzard

Extreme caution must be used when manoeuvring on the ground at airports where jet operations occur.

As a rule, never taxi behind a jet aircraft unless you can be assured that the engines are not operating; if operating, the following are published distances that can be used for reference (AIM, AIR 1.7):



A taxiing jet or turbo-prop aircraft can produce winds in excess of 60 KTS.


The pilot has sole responsibility for jet blast avoidance.


Checkout United Airlines' short training demonstration:

Seat Requirements

The Pilot-in-command must direct all persons on board to fasten safety belts when the aircraft is moving on the surface, during takeoffs and landings, and at any other time deemed necessary by the Pilot-in-command (CAR 605.25).


In the case of infants less than 2 years of age, the infant must be securely held in the arms of adult when seat belts are required to be worn.


The Pilot-in-command or a qualified pilot must remain in his seat belt during flight time (CAR 605.27 [3]).


The following apply primarily to unpressurized aircraft, but are applicable to the cabin-pressure altitude of pressurized aircraft.


A pilot cannot fly an aircraft for more than 30 minutes above 10000’, or above 13000’ for any length of time unless he or she is wearing and using oxygen equipment (CAR 605.31).


When flying for more than 30 minutes above 10000’ sufficient oxygen and equipment must be available for 10% of the passengers (not less than one passenger) for the entire period exceeding 30 minutes.


When flying above 13000’ there must be available oxygen and equipment for each passenger sufficient for the entire period above 13000’.


Above 13000’ all passengers must wear and use oxygen equipment.


Required Aircraft Documents

It is required that the following be carried on board aircraft: flight crew licences, including Medical Certificate and radio licence (required only outside Canada and the US); Certificate of Registration and Certificate of Airworthiness; aircraft Journey Log (when it is planned that an aircraft will land and shut-down at an airport other than the airport of departure). 


The Certificate of Registration is issued by Transport Canada and sets out the aircraft registration letters (which in Canada begins with the prefix C-G____ or C-F____), the registered owner of the aircraft, and whether the aircraft is operated privately or commercially.


The Certificate of Airworthiness is also issued by Transport Canada and—in the case of a standard Certificate of Airworthiness—provides a verification by Transport Canada that the aircraft conforms to the type certificate provided to the aircraft manufacturer.


The Pilot Operating Handbook, interception orders (a copy of which also appears at the back of the Canada Flight Supplement), and aircraft weight and balance report must also be on board.


The Pilot Operating Handbook must be accessible to the pilot at his or her station—the idea being, of course, that the pilot can refer to it at any time during a flight.

Operational and Emergency Equipment Requirements

The references below apply to power-driven aircraft.


Day VFR (CAR 605.14)

No person shall conduct a take-off in a power-driven aircraft for the purpose of day VFR flight unless it is equipped with

  1. where the aircraft is operated in uncontrolled airspace, an altimeter;

  2. where the aircraft is operated in controlled airspace, a sensitive altimeter adjustable for barometric pressure;

  3. an airspeed indicator;

  4. a magnetic compass or a magnetic direction indicator that operates independently of the aircraft electrical generating system;

  5. a tachometer for each engine and for each propeller or rotor that has limiting speeds established by the manufacturer;

  6. an oil pressure indicator for each engine employing an oil pressure system;

  7. a coolant temperature indicator for each liquid-cooled engine;

  8. an oil temperature indicator for each air-cooled engine having a separate oil system;

  9. a manifold pressure gauge for each

    1. reciprocating engine equipped with a variable-pitch propeller,

    2. reciprocating engine used to power a helicopter,

    3. supercharged engine, and

    4. turbocharged engine;

  10. a means for the flight crew, when seated at the flight controls to determine

    1. the fuel quantity in each main fuel tank, and

    2. if the aircraft employs retractable landing gear, the position of the landing gear;

  11. subject to Subsections 601.08(2)[1] and 601.09(2),[2] a radio-communication system adequate to permit two-way communication on the appropriate frequency when the aircraft is operated within

    1. Class B, Class C or Class D airspace,

    2. an MF area, unless the aircraft is operated pursuant to Subsection 602.97(3),[3] or

    3. the ADIZ;

  12. where the aircraft is operated under Subpart 4 of this Part,[4] or under Subpart 3, 4, 5 of Part VII,[5] radio-communication equipment adequate to permit two-way communication on the appropriate frequency;

  13. where the aircraft is operated in Class B airspace, radio navigation equipment that will enable it to be operated in accordance with a flight plan; and

  14. where the aircraft is operated under Subpart 4 of this Part or under Subpart 5 of Part VII, radio navigation equipment that is adequate to receive radio signals from a transmitting facility.


References for above:

[1] CAR 601.08 (2) states as follows: “The pilot-in-command of a VFR aircraft that is not equipped with radio-communication equipment capable of two-way communication with the appropriate air traffic control unit may, during daylight in VMC, enter Class C airspace if the pilot-in-command receives authorization to enter from the appropriate air traffic control unit before entering the airspace.”


[2] CAR 601.09 (2) provides the same text as CAR 601.09 (2), except is applicable to Class D airspace.


[3] This CAR provides provision for NORDO (no radio) aircraft to operate in a MFA when the designated ground station is operating and there is prior co-ordination.


[4] Subpart 4 governs “Private Passenger Operations” for turbine aircraft—corporate aircraft, etc.


[5] Part VII denotes commercial operations—specifically, Air Taxi (Subpart 3), Commuter (Subpart 4), and Airline (Subpart 5) operations.

VFR OTT (CAR 605.15)
  1. No person shall conduct a take-off in a power-driven aircraft for the purpose of VFR OTT flight unless it is equipped with

    1. the equipment referred to in paragraphs 605.14(c) to (j);

    2. a sensitive altimeter adjustable for barometric pressure;

    3. a means of preventing malfunction caused by icing for each airspeed indicating system;

    4. a gyroscopic direction indicator or a stabilized magnetic direction indicator;

    5. an attitude indicator;

    6. subject to Subsection (2), a turn and slip indicator or turn co-ordinator;

    7. where the aircraft is to be operated within the Northern Domestic Airspace, a means of establishing direction that is not dependent on a magnetic source;

    8. radio communication equipment adequate to permit two-way communication on the appropriate frequency; and

    9. radio navigation equipment adequate to permit the aircraft to be navigated safely.

  2. Where the aircraft is equipped with a standby attitude indicator that is usable through flight attitudes of 360 degrees of pitch and roll for an aeroplane, or ± 80 degrees of pitch and ± 120 degrees of roll for a helicopter, the aircraft may be equipped with a slip-skid indicator in lieu of a turn and slip indicator or turn co-ordinator.


Night VFR (CAR 605.16)

NOTE: Night begins when the centre of the sun is more than 6° below the horizon (generally, not less than 25 minutes after sunset or before sunrise).

  1. No person shall conduct a take-off in a power-driven aircraft for the purpose of night VFR flight, unless it is equipped with

    1. the equipment referred to in paragraphs 605.14(c) to (n);

    2. a sensitive altimeter adjustable for barometric pressure;

    3. subject to Subsection (2), a turn and slip indicator or turn co-ordinator;

    4. an adequate source of electrical energy for all of the electrical and radio equipment;

    5. in respect of every set of fuses of a particular rating that is installed on the aircraft and accessible to the pilot-in-command during flight, a number of spare fuses that is equal to at least 50 per cent of the total number of installed fuses of that rating;

    6. where the aircraft is operated so that an aerodrome is not visible from the aircraft, a stabilized magnetic direction indicator or a gyroscopic direction indicator;

    7. where the aircraft is to be operated within the Northern Domestic Airspace, a means of establishing direction that is not dependent on a magnetic source;

    8. where the aircraft is an airship operated within controlled airspace, radar reflectors attached in such a manner as to be capable of a 360-degree reflection;

    9. a means of illumination for all of the instruments used to operate the aircraft;

    10. when carrying passengers, a landing light; and

  2. position and anti-collision lights that conform to the Aircraft Equipment and Maintenance Standards[1]


References for above:


[1] The specifications that govern position and equipment lights.

Additional Equipment Requirements

Operational and Emergency Equipment Requirements for Aeroplanes are set out in CARs 602.60 through 602.63.

Checklists and Placards

All aircraft must have a checklist and/or placards to facilitate operation in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements.


The checklist and/or placards must provide for proper operation in normal, abnormal, and emergency flight conditions, and must specifically include pre-start checks, pre-takeoff checks, post-takeoff checks, pre-landing checks, and emergency procedures checks.


Emergency checks must specify emergency operation of hydraulic, electrical, and mechanical systems, emergency operation of instruments and controls, engine inoperative procedures, and any other procedures necessary for aviation safety.  All checks and emergency procedures must be performed and followed by the flight crew.

Charts and Publications

When operating VFR OTT, night VFR, or IFR, the aircraft must have all necessary charts and publications for the route flown, including any probable diversionary route; the charts and publications must be current.

Fire Extinguisher

All aircraft must have accessible in the cockpit a suitable, non-toxic, and readily available fire extinguisher.

Timepiece and Flashlight

Each crewmember (excluding passengers) must have access to a functioning timepiece and, when operating at night, a functioning flashlight.

First Aid Kit

All aircraft must have a first aid kit, the content of which is specified in the Aviation Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (CAR 604.117).

Survival Equipment

Except when undertaking flight within 25 nautical miles of the airport of departure where continuous radio contact with base station is possible for the duration of flight, no person can operate an aircraft without specified survival equipment (CAR 602.61)  The survival equipment must be adequate for the survival on the ground of each person on board the aircraft with due consideration for geographic area, seasonal and climatic variations; all survival equipment must provide a means for the following:

  1. starting a fire

  2. providing shelter;

  3. providing or purifying water; and

  4. visually signalling distress.

Lifejackets and Life Raft

With respect to flight over water, a single-engine aircraft operating beyond gliding distance from shore must be equipped with one lifejacket for each individual on board (CAR 602.62) The lifejackets must be stored on board in a fashion so as to be easily accessible to the person for whom it is intended when that person is seated.


If a single-engine aircraft is operated over water beyond 100 nautical miles from a suitable emergency landing site, or if the aircraft is operated over water beyond a distance at which the emergency landing site cannot be reached within 30 minutes at the cruising speed specified in the flight plan or flight itinerary, the aircraft must be equipped with life raft sufficient in total rated capacity to accommodate all persons on board (CAR 602.63).


With respect to a multi-engine aircraft unable to maintain flight with any engine failed, the above 100 NM or 30 minute above rule applies.  In the case of multi-engine aircraft capable of maintaining flight with any engine failed, the distance is extended to 200 NM and the time is extended to 60 minutes.

Aircraft Icing

It is illegal to conduct or attempt to conduct a takeoff in an aircraft that has frost, ice, or snow adhering to any of its critical surfaces (i.e., wings, control surfaces, rotors, propellers, horizontal stabilizers, vertical stabilizers, or any other stabilizing surface of the aircraft) (CAR 602.11).

Minimum Altitude

Over a built-up area (City, Town, Village, or assembly of persons), an aircraft must be flown at a sufficient altitude to allow a safe emergency landing, and at no time should that be below 1000’ above the highest obstacle within a 2000’ radius (except for the purposes of landing or taking-off) (CAR 602.14).


Over non-populous areas, an aircraft must be flown at an altitude that does not present a hazard to person or property, and at no time less than 500’ distance from any person, vessel, vehicle or structure (except for the purposes of landing or taking-off) (CAR 602.14).


Aircraft cannot fly less than 2000’ above an aerodrome, except for the purpose of landing or taking off (CAR 602.96 [4]).


Right of Way

The pilot-in-command of an aircraft that has the right of way shall, when there is a risk of collision, take whatever action is necessary to avoid a collision (CAR 602.19 [a]).


Where the pilot-in-command is aware that another aircraft is faced with an emergency, he or she should give way to the other aircraft (CAR 602.19 [b]).


Based on manoeuvrability, aircraft have priority of right of way in the following order: Fixed or free balloons, gliders, airships, and fixed or rotary wing aircraft (CAR 602.19 [2]).


Where the pilot-in-command is required to give way to another aircraft, he or she shall not pass over or under, or cross ahead of, the other aircraft, unless those action will not create a risk of collision (CAR 602.19 [4]).


When two aircraft are approaching head-on, or approximately so, each shall alter course to the right (CAR 602.19 [5]).


When an aircraft is overtaking another—whether climbing, descending, or in level flight—the pilot-in-command of the overtaking aircraft shall alter the course to the right, and no subsequent change in the relative position of the two aircraft shall absolve this obligation of the pilot of overtaking aircraft until the aircraft is entirely passed or is clear of the other aircraft (CAR 602.19 [6]).


The pilot-in-command of an aircraft maneuvering on the ground, or in the air, shall give way to an aircraft that is landing or about to land (CAR 602.19 [7]).


The pilot-in-command of an aircraft approaching an airport for the purpose of landing shall give way to any aircraft at a lower altitude that is also approaching the airport for the purpose of landing (CAR 602.19 [8]); nevertheless, the pilot-in-command of the aircraft of the lower aircraft shall not overtake or cut in front of the higher aircraft that is in the final stages of an approach to land (CAR 602.19 [9]).

Landing and Takeoff Safety

No pilot-in-command shall conduct, or attempt to conduct, a takeoff or landing unless there is no apparent risk of collision with any aircraft, person, vessel, vehicle, or structure in the takeoff or landing path (CAR 602.19 [10]).

Animal Conservation

Flight over fur and poultry farms should be avoid at altitudes below 2000' AGL, as crowded animals can display destructive behavour when frightened.  Fur farms may be marked with chrome yellow and black stripes painted on pylons or roofs—In addition, a red flag may be flown during whelping (birthing) season (AIM, RAC 1.11.1).

In the interest of wildlife, pilots must not fly at an altitude of less than 2 000 ft AGL when in the vicinity of animal herds  or above wildlife refuges/bird sanctuaries, depicted on affected aeronautical charts (AIM, RAC 1.11.2).

Dropping Objects from Aircraft

No person shall create a hazard to persons or property by dropping an object from the aircraft during flight (CAR 602.23).

Formation Flying

No person shall operate an aircraft in formation unless there has been a prior arrangement between the pilots-in-command of the aircraft, and—in the even the formation flight is conducted within a control zones—the pilots and the appropriate air traffic controllers (CAR 602.24).


No person shall conduct aerobatic over a built-up area or an open-air assembly of person, in controlled airspace (accept in accordance with a special flight operations certificate), when flight visibility is less than three miles, or below 2000’ (accept in accordance with a special flight operations certificate) (CAR 602.27).


No person shall conduct aerobatics with passengers on board unless the pilot-in-command has completed at least 10 hours of dual flight instruction in aerobatic maneuvers or completed 20 hours solo conducting aerobatic maneuvers, and has completed at least one hour of conducting aerobatic maneuvers in the preceding six months (CAR 602.28).


An "aerobatic maneuver" is defined as a maneuver "where a change in the attitude of an aircraft results in a bank angle greater than 60 degrees, an abnormal attitude or an abnormal acceleration not incidental to normal flying (CAR 101.01 [1])."

Compliance with Air Traffic Control

The pilot-in-command of an aircraft shall comply with and acknowledge all ATC instructions, and comply with all ATC clearances received and accepted (CAR 602.31 [1] [a] [b]).


A VFR pilot to ATC any clearance received when requested to do so my ATC (CAR 602.31 [1] [b] [ii]).


Final Authority of the Pilot-in-command

The pilot-in-command of an aircraft shall have final authority as to the disposition of the aircraft while in command (ICAO Annex 2, Rules of the Air—Chapter 2, Section 2.4).

The pilot-in-command of an aircraft shall—whether manipulating the controls or not—be responsible for the operation of the aircraft in accordance with the rules of the air, except that the pilot-in-command may depart from these rules in circumstances that render such departure absolutely necessary in the interests of safety (ICAO Annex 2, Rules of the Air—Chapter 2, Section 2.3.1).

Speed Limits

No person shall operate an aircraft more than 250 KTS below 10,000’ ASL, or more than 200 KTS below 3000’ AGL within 10 NM of a controlled airport, unless authorized by ATC, or unless a faster speed is the minimum safe airspeed for the aircraft’s configuration (CAR 602.32).

Altimeter Rules
Altimeter-setting Rules—Altimeter-setting Region

Immediately before takeoff, the altimeter must be set to the current altimeter setting of the airport, or—if not available—the elevation of the airport (CAR 602.35 [a]).


While in flight in the Altimeter-setting Region, the altimeter must be set to the nearest station along the route; in the case that stations are separated by more than 150 NM, to the altimeter setting near the route (CAR 602.35 [b]).


Immediately before starting a descent for the purpose of landing, the altimeter must be se to the altimeter of airport if available (CAR 602.35 [c]).


Altimeter-setting Rules—Standard Pressure Region

Immediately before takeoff, the altimeter must be set to the current altimeter setting of the airport, or—if not available—the elevation of the airport (CAR 602.36 [a]).


Before reaching the cruising altitude (referred to as “flight level” in the Standard Pressure Region), the altimeter shall be set to 29.92”Hg (“inches of mercury”—equivalent to 1013.2 millibars) (CAR 602.36 [b])..


Immediately before starting a descent for the purpose of landing, the altimeter must be se to the altimeter of airport if available (CAR 602.36 [c]).


When transitioning between the Altimeter-setting Region (ASR) and the Standard Pressure Region (SPR), the altimeter shall be set on the 29.92 “Hg immediately after entering the SPR (when transitioning from the ASR to the SPR), or immediately prior to leaving the SPR (when transitioning from the SPR to the ASR) (CAR 602.37 [a] and [b]).


Because it is rather complicated, it will be useful to have a look at how the original statues reads:


Altimeter-setting and Operating Procedures in Transition between Regions


602.37 Except where otherwise authorized by an air traffic control unit, each flight crew member who occupies a flight crew member position that is equipped with an altimeter shall


(a) when flying from the altimeter-setting region into the standard pressure region, set the altimeter to 29.92 inches of mercury or 1,013.2 millibars immediately after the aircraft’s entry into the standard pressure region; and


(b) when flying from the standard pressure region into the altimeter-setting region, set the altimeter to the altimeter setting of the nearest station along the route of flight or, where the nearest stations along the route of flight are separated by more than 150 nautical miles, the altimeter setting of a station near the route of flight immediately before the aircraft’s entry into the altimeter-setting region.

Night Landings and Takeoffs

A night landing or takeoff is prohibited at an airport unless the airport is properly lighted (CAR 602.40 [1])—an exceptions to this is when the landing or takeoff is conducted in service of a police action or for the purpose of saving human life, provided the flight is conducted without hazard to persons or property (CAR 602.40 [2]).

Flight Preparation

Before commencing a flight, the pilot shall be familiar with the available information that is appropriate for the intended flight (CAR 602.71).


Also, before commencing a flight, the pilot shall be familiar with the available weather information appropriate for the intended flight (CAR 602.72).

Airport Operations—General

When operating at or in the vicinity of an airport, the pilot must:

  • observe air traffic for the purpose of avoiding collisions;

  • confirm or avoid the pattern of traffic formed by other aircraft in operation;

  • make all turns to the left when operating in the traffic circuit, except where right turns are specified in the Canada Flight Supplement (CFS) or an ATC unit;

  • conform with the restrictions specified in the CFS;

  • where practicable, land and takeoff off into wind, unless authorized by ATC;

  • maintain a listening watch on the appropriate frequency;

  • where the airport is controlled, obtain ATC clearances (CAR 602.96 [3]).

Communication Frequencies

When operating in en route, and when not communicating on an MF or ATF, pilots should monitor 126.7 MHz, and when practicable broadcast their identification, position, altitude, and intentions as a means of alerting vicinity aircraft (AIM RAC 5.1).

126.7 MHz should also be monitored after departing a controlled airport or MF airport (AIM RAC 4.2.9).

Also, Flight Information Centres (FICs) broadcast significant weather reports (SIGMETs) and urgent pilot reports (PIREPS) on 126.7 MHz (AIM RAC

Pilots are also encouraged to make positon to the FIC through the nearest Flight Information Service En Route (FISE) frequency, and using the following format (AIM RAC 5.1):


  1. Identification

  2. Position

  3. Time over

  4. Altitude


  6. Destination

At airports without a published MF or ATF, pilots should use 123.2 MHz (AIM RAC 4.5.1).

The inter-pilot air-to-air frequency is 123.45 MHz (AIM RAC 11.7.14)


Pilots should continuously monitor 121.5 MHz when operating in sparsely settled areas or when operating over water more than 50 NM from shore (AIM COM 1.12.2).