Policies for Ministers' Offices - January 2011
Appendix B: National Defence Guidelines for the Use of Government Administrative Aircraft
B.1 Description of administrative flight services
National Defence (ND) operates the Administrative Flight Service (AFS) for members of the royal family, the Governor General, the Prime Minister, former prime ministers travelling for purposes related to their former office, Cabinet ministers, foreign dignitaries visiting Canada, parliamentary committees or delegations on official business and, when authorized by a minister, senior federal officers on government business. The service consists of one 12‑passenger Challenger aircraft and three nine‑passenger Challenger aircraft and is capable of providing air transportation on a national and on a limited international basis.
The AFS will operate throughout the year, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, from 412 Squadron of National Defence, which is located at the Shell Aerocentre adjacent to the Ottawa Airport.
B.2 Guidelines for use
Government administrative aircraft are to be used only for government business and when:
- the flight is being made to a point where there is no commercial air service, when no space is available on a commercial air service, or when, because of difficulties in routings or timetables, substantial savings of essential time can be made by using administrative aircraft in place of commercial services;
- official parties of some size need to travel together and significant advantage can be gained by using a government aircraft;
- where security considerations render commercial travel impractical; or
- the aircraft is being used to transport visiting foreign dignitaries where it is deemed appropriate and/or the provision of this service is in the best interest of the Canadian government.
B.3 Approving authority
The Minister of National Defence is the sole approving authority for flights conducted under the provisions of these guidelines.
Charges are not levied for use of the Challenger aircraft of the AFS or for special flights, those that carry members of the royal family, the Governor General, the Prime Minister, or former prime ministers travelling for purposes relating to their former office.
Charges are levied for flights using other types of ND aircraft (e.g. Airbus, etc.) when a flight is arranged by the Governor General, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of Commons or the Senate or involves a minister of the Crown, members of parliamentary committees or delegations on official business, foreign heads of state, visiting dignitaries, and senior officials travelling on government business.
The charges levied will be the incremental costs of the flight for the particular aircraft type used, as determined by ND.
B.5 Booking procedures
The office of the minister requesting the flight should telephone the FCC at (613) 990-5085 at the earliest opportunity to give a preliminary indication of the requirement, including a tentative itinerary and the number of passengers to be carried.
The minister requesting the flight must forward a formal written request for the flight to the Minister of National Defence, except in cases of emergency; the written request should reach the minister at least 48 hours before the time of departure.
The written request must include:
- an itinerary of the trip indicating all points of departure and arrival;
- the reason why the use of government-owned aircraft is requested;
- the reason why commercial air service cannot be used;
- a complete passenger list showing departure and arrival points of passengers and their affiliation;
- the contact person (and telephone number) in the requesting minister's office;
- in addition, the following statement must be included immediately above the signature block:
- "I [or my minister] request[s] the use of this aircraft, fully cognizant of the guidelines for use of the AFS, consistent with the government's commitment to financial restraint and consistent with the Conflict of Interest Act"; and
- the signature of the minister requesting the flight or the signature of the minister's chief of staff on behalf of the minister.
Flight arrangements will conform to the information contained in the written request to the office of the Minister of National Defence or as subsequently arranged by the FCC (with approval from the office of the Minister of National Defence, if there are substantial changes to the written request).
Requests will normally be handled on a first‑come, first‑served basis. Conflicting priorities and unforeseen requirements will be referred to the Minister of National Defence for resolution. The order of precedence in the Cabinet will be used to resolve conflicts. To optimize the scheduling of aircraft, restrictions on changes to previously co-ordinated itineraries are necessary. Operational constraints, such as crew duty time and the availability of airport services, could disrupt future schedules and have an impact on the services offered or promised to other ministers.
Additionally, stops not contained in the original itinerary should not be planned at intermediate points to pick up or discharge passengers. If such stops or itinerary changes are necessary, they must be co-ordinated with and agreed to by the FCC (which will in turn contact the office of the Minister of National Defence for approval).
The FCC or the office of the Minister of National Defence will inform ministers requesting air transportation of the availability of aircraft proceeding on compatible flight schedules. Ministers should make every effort to make joint use of aircraft in the interests of efficient use of government resources; however, no more than eight ministers of the Crown are to travel on the same aircraft at the same time.
National Defence will make information on the use of administrative aircraft available to the public in a monthly report that provides:
- the name of the minister requesting the aircraft;
- the date(s) of trips and the location(s) visited;
- the name(s) of the passenger(s);
- the purpose of the trip(s); and
- the number of hours flown.
Enquiries regarding any particular trip will be referred to the office of the minister requesting the trip.
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