In a letter sent to Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen and Canada's Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra, AOPA President Mark Baker and James Ferrier, interim president and CEO of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, requested that pilots from the United States be able to enter Canadian airspace while flying under BasicMed privileges.
Baker and Ferrier noted that more than 75,000 pilots in the United States have qualified to fly under BasicMed in its five years of existence, and a 2021 FAA study did not detect a statistically significant difference in aviation safety outcomes, such as accident rates, between BasicMed pilots and pilots holding third-class medical certificates.
"Canada is a high destination country for U.S. pilots, and we are pleased to be working with our colleagues at COPA on this issue. Having Transport Canada accept U.S. pilots using this program is the right thing to do. It's proven to be safe and the program has the support of the Federal Aviation Administration and other nations," said Baker.
The letter also cited the positive economic impact of allowing pilots under BasicMed to fly into Canada. "The increase in GA traffic and pilots into Canada would undoubtedly help businesses rebuild, provide opportunities for families to see one another, and allow tourism to again flourish with tens of thousands of border crossings by GA pilots each year," the letter stated.
"COPA is excited to collaborate with AOPA and Transport Canada to explore the acceptance of BasicMed in Canada for U.S. pilots. Incorporating the support of AOPA and building on the success of BasicMed in other countries, COPA is eager to examine the possibilities with [Transport Canada] to introduce a similar process in Canada for our Canadian pilots," said Ferrier.
A similar letter was sent in 2021 by AOPA and COPA to the minister of transport, urging Canada to join the rest of the North American continent in allowing BasicMed operations. That request was seemingly delayed due to the emphasis on addressing COVID-related issues.
The current letter added, "Authorizing U.S. GA pilots with BasicMed privileges to safely fly in Canada's airspace…will help reduce the burden and backlog for Transport Canada's medical evaluations process that are not only impacting GA pilots but commercial pilots as well."
Officials were reminded that Canada remains one of the most popular international destinations for U.S. GA pilots, representing nearly 30 percent of all international GA flights each year.
The Canadian government recently relaxed overall COVID-19 cross-border travel restrictions for those entering Canada by air, land, or sea.