Reading the daily CADORs reports, it seems controllers these days are willing to hand them out for just about anything. It used to be that CADORs were the exception rather than the rule. Why the rise in CADORs filings for things that appear to be extremely trivial - ie "Flight ABC took off and elected to return to the airport. No reason provided by flight crew and no emergency was declared." As a pilot it would make me think twice about any information I might provide to a controller in any situation.
This is a great question and we are glad that you brought it up because CADORS are often misunderstood.
Pilots often associate the term CADORS with the term Violation. This could not be further from the truth. The CADORS report is a way for Nav Canada and Transport Canada to keep track of abnormal occurrences. The reason that this data is tracked is so that the system can be improved to ensure a safer flying environment for everyone. It is also used to track trends in the same types of occurrences. CADORS are not just filed on Pilots but also on Controllers where the situation dictates as per the CADORS guidelines. The vast majority of CADORS are not violations but merely a record of some sort of abnormal situation that occurred. If you read the full report you will see a line that says "Further Action Required" in most instances the response listed next to this line is "No". If the response is "No" then the case is closed and the report is used for nothing more than trend tracking. The last thing that a pilot should do is avoid sharing information with ATC in fear of having a CADOR report filed. If you made an honest mistake, hiding it will only make it worse for the controller, the pilot and it will reduce the margin of safety for those flying around you. As a pilot you are encouraged to declare an emergency anytime that the safety of the aircraft is in question. Yes it will generate a CADOR but remember that a CADOR is NOT a violation.
The volume of CADORS in recent years has increased due to the industry wide adoption of Safety Management Systems (SMS).
ASC 97-002 on the Transport Canada website defines what qualifies as a reportable aviation occurrence. You will notice that the majority of these items are not violations but merely abnormal situations that must be reported for safety tracking reasons.
Occurrences that require a CADOR Report as per Transport Canada
Critical and High Profile Aerodrome Events for Immediate Reporting
- Aircraft Accident
- Aircraft evacuation due to potential hazard
- Dangerous Goods Spill affecting operations
- Fuel Spills or major Environmental Incidents that affect operations
- Major system, structural failure or labour dispute - causing substantial reduction in level of service or serious disruption to operations
- Aircraft Hijacking
- Hostage Taking
- Terrorist Activities
- Bomb Threats/Bomb Found
- A person, other than a stowaway, sustains a serious injury or fatal injury, that is not self-inflicted or inflicted by another person or caused by natural causes, as a result of that person:
- being in the aircraft,
- coming into direct contact with any part of the aircraft, including any part that may have become detached from the aircraft, or
- being directly exposed to the jet blast/propeller wash of the aircraft;
- The aircraft sustains damage or structural failure adversely affecting the structural strength, performance or flight characteristics of the aircraft normally requiring major repair or replacement of any affected component part, other than damage or failure that is limited to:
- the engine, its cowlings or its accessories,
- the propellers, wing tips, antennae, tires, brakes or fairings, or
- small dents or puncture holes in the aircraft skin;
- The aircraft is missing or is completely inaccessible.
- An engine fails,
- Smoke or fire occurs, other than an engine fire that is contained within the engine and does not result in engine failure or damage to other component parts of the aircraft,
- Difficulties in controlling the aircraft in flight are encountered due to any aircraft system malfunction, weather phenomena, wake turbulence, operations outside the approved flight envelope or uncontrolled vibrations,
- The aircraft fails to remain within the landing or takeoff area, lands with one or more landing gear retracted or drags a wing tip or engine pod,
- Any crew member is unable to perform his/her flight duties as a result of incapacitation,
- Decompression, explosive or otherwise, occurs that necessitates an emergency descent,
- A fuel shortage occurs that necessitates a diversion or requires approach and landing priority at the destination of the aircraft,
- The aircraft is refuelled with the incorrect type of fuel or contaminated fuel,
- A collision or risk of collision with any other aircraft or with any vehicle, terrain or obstacle occurs, including a collision or risk of collision that may be related to air traffic control procedures or equipment failures,
- The aircraft receives a Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) Resolution Advisory,
- A flight crew member declares an emergency or indicates any degree of emergency that requires priority handling by an air traffic control unit or the standing by of crash, fire fighting or rescue services,
- Toxic gases or corrosive materials leak from any area aboard the aircraft.
- Unauthorized incursion or operating irregularity involving vehicles, pedestrians or animals.
- Failure of a navigational aid, approach aid, communications system, airport lighting, power failure or any other system breakdown which has an adverse effect upon flight safety or a major impact upon operations.
- Criminal action - hijacking bomb threat, riot, sabotage, or a breach of aviation/airport security.
- Unavailability of a runway due to snow, ice, flood, obstruction or foreign object that results in a major impact on airport operations.
- Bird strikes, which result in aircraft damage or other operational impact.
- Missing aircraft reports, Search and Rescue action (RCC launch) and ELT activations.
- Significant building and equipment fire or other major damage on airport property or TC remote sites.
- Labour action affecting operational capability.
- Item dropped from aircraft.
- Regulatory infractions which have immediate safety implications, involve commercial carriers or may generate media attention.
- Environment emergencies such as significant fuel spill, hazardous chemical or radioactive spill on airport property.
- Accidental death or serious injury to employees or members of the public while on airport or TC property.
- Any occurrence which may generate a high degree of public interest or concern or could be of direct interest to specific foreign air authorities.
- Illumination of an aircraft by a Laser or directed bight light source
- Incidents involving UAVs
- Any missed approach that is not a direct result of the pilot not acquiring visual reference with the surface
- Gross navigational errors or Gross altitude deviations that deviate from an accepted ATC clearance
- Runway or taxi way incursions
As a pilot you do not need to fear CADORS. The most important thing is that you communicate freely and effectively with your Air Traffic Controller so that you can work together to solve any situation either routine or completely abnormal.
The BC General Aviation Association's Ask The Controller Page in the Members Section.