My understanding of the external load issue, based on some decades of northern chartering, panicked perusals of the TC website, and discussions with the operators I have chartered with –
According to the regulations, it was always a requirement that an external load be authorized by a supplemental type certificate (STC). However, a provision existed for an exemption to the STC requirement, if an operator could meet certain conditions set by TC. Conditions varied from time to time- external loads have been controversial for a long time – but included such things as attachment methods, pilot training, maximum weight restrictions, operating conditions, etc.
Finally, after many fits and starts and postponements, the exemption option disappeared. Now an STC is required for any carriage of external loads. According to people who have gone through the STC process, an STC is highly specific to the aircraft and the load. There is not just an STC for a canoe on a Cessna 185, for example. The STC would be specific to the aircraft that went through certification testing – i.e. Cessna 185 F, engine type, float type, STOL package, etc., and load type – canoe, boat, lumber, maximum length and weight, means of attachment, etc.
According to the TC website, there are a considerable number of STCs in existence, mostly for “veteran” aircraft like the Otter and Beaver. If a type certificate exists for your configuration of aircraft and the particular load you want to fly, you are ok – although you may need to purchase the STC. If not, you need to apply for the STC and go through the paperwork and flight testing with TC. This is an expensive and time consuming process. I know that NWAL (Fort Smith) and Air Tindi (Yellowknife) went through this process in the spring of 2011 to get external load certification for their 185s. Things did not happen quickly after that. NWAL was given a temporary STC for their 185 for the summer of 2011 at the last minute – I was actually sitting in the plane when it arrived, and we got out and tied on the canoe. Tindi faced similar delays in getting a response from TC, but finally got what I believe was a similar temporary STC (and were able to fly Hoop in for his trip that summer.)
I’m not sure how the Tindi situation would have been in 2012 – they sold off their 185s in the spring of 2012, and did not operate them that summer. NWAL was apparently told that based on their testing, they would not be given an STC for the 185. However, after they made further inquiries, it was determined that they did meet the requirements for the STC, and now have an external load certification for that aircraft. It arrived too late for my trip planning last summer, but according to the local canoe trip outfitter, they were able to fly external loads (and passengers) by mid-July last year.
A troublesome trend for larger groups – driven, I am told, by insurance considerations and not specifically TC regulations – is that more operators are now refusing to fly canoes and passengers in the DHC-6 Twin Otter because the stacked canoes block one of the rear exits, which could be problematic if an emergency evacuation is required. I know Tindi would not fly canoes and passengers out of Yellowknife in their twins (last summer) and a friend had a similar response from Osprey Wings in Missinipe, Saskatchewan for his trip last fall. Planning fly-in trips is no longer simple (depending on where you want to fly from and the type of aircraft you require): maybe we should all buy Pakboat shares.
Regulations and bureaucracy can be frustrating, but I’m not sure what the answer is. A sobering example of what can happen when pilots don’t pay attention to the rules (or use common sense) can be found here:http://www.tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-repor ... 0q0117.asp
An acquaintance of mine died in the front right seat of this Beaver, 1000 pounds overweight, in northern Quebec.