Federal Court

Air Law


Risk to air safety outweighed individual benefit to student pilot to receive licence

Student pilot was physician who suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder and significant associated generalized anxiety disorder. Student pilot had been taking prescription medications for these conditions since at least 2004, and these conditions were well controlled. Student pilot took up flying for recreational purposes in 2012. Student pilot completed certain courses and training but was denied civil aviation licence by minister of transport. Denial was based on student pilot being treated with four medications. Student pilot unsuccessfully applied for review by one-member panel of Transportation Appeal Tribunal. Student pilot unsuccessfully appealed to three-member panel. Student pilot brought application for judicial review. Application dismissed. Standard of review was reasonableness, with deference to expertise of tribunal. Issue in this case was whether tribunal’s decision reasonably, in its result, reflected proportionate exercise as between objectives of Aeronautics Act on one hand and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canadian Human Rights Act on other hand. Tribunal’s decision was reasonable and had adequately taken into consideration student pilot’s rights afforded by Charter and act. Minister’s medical evidence was to effect that, while one could not say for certain, larger number of drugs being taken required more caution as to their effect, particularly with respect to sedating drugs. Tribunal was to consider issue having regard to its expertise and concern for air safety. Conclusion reached by tribunal was that risk to air safety outweighed individual benefit to student pilot to receive licence. Student pilot had option of changing one drug, but nothing indicated he had done so. In light of available evidence, student pilot failed to establish he had not received appropriate individual assessment.

Corneil v. Canada (Transportation Appeal Tribunal) (Jun. 16, 2015, F.C., Roger T. Hughes J., File No. T-31-15) 255 A.C.W.S. (3d) 530.

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