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Pilots did not see other aircraft prior to mid-air collision over Ottawa River: TSB

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OTTAWA — The Transportation Safety Board concludes the risk of a mid-air collision over Constance Bay last spring could have been “significantly reduced” if the pilots were not relying on their eyes only during the flight.

In its final report, the agency says the pilots involved in the crash over the Ottawa River did not see each other prior to the crash since they were using a “see-and-avoid” approach to flying.

On June 14, a Champion floatplane and a Cessna collided over the Ottawa River near Buckham’s Bay, damaging both aircraft.

The Champion floatplane crashed into the Ottawa River and overturned. The pilot was rescued by nearby boaters and was treated for minor injuries. The Cessna landed safely at the Arnprior Airport with damage to the propeller, nose wheel fairing and engine cowl.

In its report on the crash, the Transportation Safety Board said both pilots were flying under visual flight rules, meaning pilots have the sole responsibility for seeing and avoiding other aircraft.

“The see-and-avoid principle is the basic method of collision avoidance for VFR flights that is based on active screening, and the ability to detect conflicting aircraft and take appropriate measures to avoid them,” said the TSB.

Both aircraft were not equipped with any type of aircraft collision avoidance system, nor was it required by regulation for the flights.

“Neither pilot saw the other aircraft prior to the mid-air collision, partly owing to the inherent limitations of the see-and-avoid principle. Relying solely on visual detection increases the risk of collision while in uncontrolled airspace,” said the TSB.

“Pilots are strongly encouraged to broadcast their intentions and maintain a listening watch while operating in uncontrolled airspace in accordance with Transport Canada’s VFR communications procedures, even though it is not mandatory for them to do so.”

The Transportation Safety Board notes there are a number of airborne collision avoidance systems available.

“These technologies offer the potential to significantly reduce the risk of mid-air collisions.”

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister

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Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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