Flight following in Canada

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Hengelo, Jan 26, 2022.

  1. Hengelo

    Hengelo Pre-takeoff checklist

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    What are the important differences a PPL should know about flying into or through Canadian airspace from the USA?
     
  2. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser!

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  3. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    I wrote up some notes when I was planning a northward trip a few years back. These may be wrong or obsolete.


    Advance planning:
    • Annual user fee decal on the plane from US CBP
    • Insurance (required coverage depends on gross weight)

    Before flying into Canada:
    • Call 888-CAN-PASS 2-40 hours before crossing border to notify Canadian Border Services Agency
    • Notify eAPIS online at least 1 hour before crossing the border
    • Filed and active flight plan (if VFR, open with FSS in USA)

    After arriving in Canada:
    • Call 888-CAN-PASS upon landing in Canada and before getting out of the plane

    Before flying into USA:
    • Contact American destination airport customs office 1-23 hours before the ETA
    • Notify eAPIS online at least 1 hour before crossing the border
    • Filed and active flight plan (if VFR, open with ATC or FSS in Canada)

    After arriving in USA:
    • Taxi to the customs office upon landing in the USA and wait in or next to the plane until customs cleared

    Post flight:
    • Nav Canada will mail a bill for using their airspace and possibly for landing

    Differences from flying in America:
    • In general, do not fly VFR at night or over the top
    • VFR flight plan required for all flights more than 25nm from starting point
    • Automatic opening and closing of VFR flight plans when flying from/to towered airports
    • A lot more class G airspace, surface up to 18,000 MSL in many places other than airways
    • Class B airspace is mostly above 12,500 MSL (or above MEA if higher than 12,500) and not around major airports; IFR and Controlled VFR (clearance required) only
    • Class D airports may have multiple rings of class E airspace
    • Clearance required to enter class C airspace
    • Mandatory frequencies at some uncontrolled airports
    • Many on-field FSS stations who do not control the airport but can give advisories of weather and traffic
    • More transponder codes to use depending on circumstances, such as 1400 when VFR above 12,500
    • Standardized middle-of-nowhere radio frequency (126.7) to listen and make position reports
     
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  4. DoubleD

    DoubleD Pre-takeoff checklist

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  5. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    That was a pretty good rundown on Canadian flying basics. It is worth noting that a flight plan or flight itinerary can be used, not just a flight plan.
     
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  6. Hengelo

    Hengelo Pre-takeoff checklist

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    FANTASTIC, thank you!
     
  7. Hengelo

    Hengelo Pre-takeoff checklist

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  8. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    If you're just flying through Canadian airspace without landing in Canada, you don't need to call CANPASS or anything similar, and I don't think you'll get a bill from NavCanada. You just need to be on a flight plan (VFR or IFR) and talking to some kind of ATC (American or Canadian) when you cross the border in either direction.

    As for flying at night or VFR over the top, since the American license already includes those privileges, I don't see why you wouldn't be allowed to use those in Canada. It's just that they're not part of the Canadian PPL and require separate ratings (OTOH Canada doesn't require separate endorsements for complex/high-performance, though it's unlikely any insurance company would let a new PPL insure a Bonanza or Mooney without some instructor time).
     
  9. Dave Theisen

    Dave Theisen En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Upon contacting Canadian ATC, you will be asked for you Vax records.

    I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Just having some fun with our Northern neighbors. Please don’t lock this thread. :)
     
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  10. 4CornerFlyer

    4CornerFlyer Line Up and Wait

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    The link you want is here, with attention to page 7:
    https://www.navcanada.ca/en/customer-guide-to-charges-sep-2020-en.pdf

    Assuming you are in a non-commercial single engine aircraft, you do not mean "overflight" fees, as there aren't any US to US. If you fly say from Washington to Alaska without stopping in Canada you would not incur a service charge.
    The charges for foreign-registered aircraft for air traffic control services with a landing in Canada are billed per quarter year, and are currently C$16.85, but going up to C$21.92 March 2022. "Quarters are as follows: March 1 to May 31, June 1 to August 31, September 1 to November 30, December 1 to February 28." This means if you enter Canada May 31 and leave on June 1, you are billed for two quarters.
    There are additional terminal fees for major airports: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto (Pearson), Ottawa (Macdonald-Cartier), and Montréal (Trudeau) international airports. C$9.92 going up to C$12.91 assessed for each day of departure. This is not a landing fee for the airport, but an ATC service fee for those airports only, ie not satellite airports in the area. You might incur landing fees, parking fees, FBO fees at any airport.
    You will receive a bill from NavCanada in the mail for the ATC service fees.
    Jon
     
  11. Hengelo

    Hengelo Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Unbelievably helpful thread guys, thanks.
     
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  12. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    I'll just added the fee is waived if you had originally diverted to one of those airports for weather or another safety issue. I diverted to CYOW once in bad weather, and when I called NavCanada and told them, they canceled the invoice right away, no questions asked.
     
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  13. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    One more thing I don't remember seeing in the thread: in Canada, we have a standard enroute advisory frequency, 126.7 MHz, that everyone uses if they're not talking to ATC or on another special frequency.

    If you're flying in the US near the Canadian border, it might be fun to tune it on your second radio some time and listen in to all the chatter (eh?).
     
  14. Hengelo

    Hengelo Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Emergency diversions into Canada were on my list of follow up questions :)
     
  15. kath

    kath Administrator Management Council Member PoA Technical Administrator

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    Here's my story about how I found out about 126.7:

    Transiting through Canada, I landed at a little uncontrolled airport on a Sunday. After parking the plane, I pulled out my phone and it had zero bars. I went to the little FBO hut, hoping to find a) a phone for closing my flight plan, and b) a restroom. The door was locked, but it was one of those combination-code locks, and there was a helpful sign that said "THE CODE IS THE ENROUTE FREQUENCY."

    Hmm, that's weird terminology. I said to myself. What does that mean? Maybe that's Canadian for "CTAF"? Or "Center"?
    I tried the CTAF. No luck.
    I tried the nearest Center frequency. No luck.
    I tried the nearest Approach frequency (Edmonton, I think). No luck.
    I tried the CTAF again. Still no luck.
    A different Center frequency? Nope.
    121.5? Nope.
    I looked on the chart for some kind of special note in a box. Nothing.

    I pulled out my phone and wandered around, holding it to the sky, until it could get one roaming bar. I called Flight Service, and a friendly dude in Edmonton answered.

    I asked him to close my flight plan, and he said sure, you're all closed out. "Uhhhh... one more thing maybe you can help me with," I said, "I'm standing outside a locked door, and there's a sign saying the combination is 'the enroute frequency'. Can you tell me what that is? I've tried the CTAF. I've tried Center..."

    There was a long pause on the other end, and when Mr. Edmonton came back, he had that tone of voice you might use on someone who had asked how many eggs are in a dozen. "Did you try 126.7?"
     
  16. kath

    kath Administrator Management Council Member PoA Technical Administrator

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    You can recognize these because it'll say "MF" on the chart next to the CTAF. Think of it as "Class E-and-a-half". You must call up that person on the radio ("Podunkton Radio"), but they are not a controller, so they give advisories, not instructions. Took me a while to get the hang of that one, too. :)
     
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  17. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    That brings up another one: The charts are kind of weird. I finally managed to buy a Canadian VFR chart just to have the legend to understand the digital charts available through FltPlanGo.
     
  18. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    The legend is available in Foreflight too, if anyone is looking for it.
     
  19. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Is that true for US-only subscriptions? I don't see it in My Documents and the NAV CANADA "Drive" on my ForeFlight says a subscription is required.
     
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  20. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    You have to have a Nav Canada subscription to download it. I just thought I’d mention that it was there in case someone else was looking for a source.
     
  21. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    There has recently been a small change in that. The flight service specialist mostly cannot give instructions, but there was a circular a couple of years ago saying that the can say what runway to use (e.g. if they say runway 09 is in use, you can no longer declare that you're using 27 unless it's an emergency).

    Also note that some MFs aren't backed by flight services. In that case, it's just a rule that you're not allowed to enter the airspace NORDO. MFs are usually in place at airports that have some airline service but not enough to justify a tower, but they can also be present at busy GA airports.
     
  22. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    I'll have to double-check, but I think the legends are also available free in FltPlan Go (through the documents section, the same place you can download CFS sections).

    In general, I prefer the Canadian VNC and VTA charts (maybe just because I'm used to them), but there are two areas where the US sectionals are clearly superior:
    1. The Canadian charts don't give airport codes, while the US charts do. That didn't used to matter, but it is significant in the GPS age.
    2. The Canadian VNCs (== sectionals) don't have give airspace details (floors, ceilings, airspace class, etc) for areas covered by a VTA (terminal chart), so you have to have the VTA to fly into somewhere like Toronto, Ottawa, or Montreal.
     
  23. mandm

    mandm Line Up and Wait

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    I think I also read that usually Canada will clear you through customs without an officer visiting the plane, I read that a check in person is rare.

    Also, if you don’t have the US decal, I read that they would make you purchase one and fill out an application upon arrival to US. Unsure if that becomes a one time fee or if they give you the annual sticker that runs the calendar year. I ordered one online and it came in a week or so, was quick!

    Also, both your airplane and the pilot needs a radio license. The pilots radio license is good for life, the airplanes license I think it was 3 or 5 years and needs to be renewed with more fees paid. People said those documents are not checked.

    CTAF non towered airports reporting points are mandatory whereas in the US they are advisory.

    I haven’t tried it yet but that’s what I concluded with my research online.
     
  24. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    I'm not sure if the radio license is still required. It was 19 years ago when I got my PPL, but I seem to recall it changing some time after that. In any case, it's something no one would ever check. Also, it wouldn't make sense -- you're also on the radio when you're just overflying Canada, after all.
     
  25. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    If you're equipped with a radio at an uncontrolled airport with just an ATF (= US CTAF) or UNICOM, you need to report downwind and final, but I don't remember the exact details. I've never bothered checking, since I can't see any reason I wouldn't report them.
     
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  26. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    This is true, or at least it was pre-pandemic. I haven't crossed the border since. You call after you land, and they give you a confirmation number that you checked in. It's a different experience than US CBP with their radiation detectors, etc, though I've found most of the CBP officers are friendly and quick.

    Another difference in Canada is that you don't need permission to leave the country, unlike in the U.S., where you go through departure checkpoints on land crossings or in airports, and have to file an eEPIS report if you're leaving in a private plane. We figure that we're nice enough that we don't have to force anyone to stay if they don't want to. ;)
     
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  27. mandm

    mandm Line Up and Wait

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    I heard that US removed the radio license requirement but I was under the impression that Canada still wants it.


     
  28. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    I can't post with any authority on this issue. I'd have to look through too many old AICs to find out. Perhaps another Canadian pilot knows something definitive.
     
  29. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    It depends on what kind of a port of entry you're using. As a side note, regardless of where you cross, you will get a visit if you're bringing a firearm.

    I haven't been up to Canada since the pandemic started but I suspect the no visit customs clearance in Canada may be a thing of the past.

    The US customs decal is an annual fee and it is the same price whether you buy it in January or June. I've heard claims of being able to buy the sticker at the CBP office upon return but I've always wondered how that was supposed to work since there is a field on the eApis form that you're supposed to enter the sticker number in.

    The reason for the decal and the price is that you're indirectly paying for the CBP agent and their time spent coming to the airport to check you in.

    As far as I know, the license is not required in Canada. But for the few seconds it takes to cross the border you're supposed to have one. That is my understanding of why the documents are not checked.