Thursday, December 01, 2022
A curious collection of Canadian CADORS cases
The past few weeks, there has been a rash of recent incident reports of interest that have been made public by Transport Canada.
On November 11, 2022, the pilot of a commercial airliner flying from Montreal to Paris reported a drone flying uncomfortably close to his aircraft. The flight was at 9,000 ft and the crew watched as the drone flew within 200-300 ft off the left wingtip. This all took place as the airliner was approximately over Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, about 40 km east of Montreal, at 12:42 pm local time. It was noted as CADORS report 2022Q4099.
Of course, a drone is not a UFO—or is it?
There has been considerable discussion within ufology and UAP experts regarding the American government’s revelation that many UFOs/UAPs could be Chinese drones. UFO fans insist that UFO witnesses such as USN pilots, for example, would know the difference between a drone and anything else.
In Canada, there’s an interesting distinction between UFOs and drones, at least according to Transport Canada, the Canuck version of the FAA in the USA.
(This is apart from the fact that Canada still uses the term “unidentified flying object” and UFO in official documentation of aerospace incident reports. UAP be damned.)
In the daily Canadian Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System (CADORS) incident reports, drone encounters are usually classified as things that could potentially endanger aircraft, like 2022Q4099:
Now, some aerospace researchers have pointed out that most drones fly at much less than 9,000 ft, so this was either a runaway toy or something more advanced. Was this a Chinese or Russian UAP?
It’s important to note, however, that even if this was a drone and not a UAP, the fact that it was in the flight path of a large commercial airliner shows that there is a need to monitor airspace for such intrusions, and that collecting reports and information on UAP is a serious and necessary exercise.
Thank goodness they didn't need to take "evasive action!"
A day later, on November 12, 2022, something unlike a drone was reported approximately over the tiny hamlet of Kenabeek, Ontario:
In this case (2022O2794), the classification of UFO was clearly indicated. This was a cargo flight from Chicago to Frankfurt, the flight path of which passed over that part of Canada. At about 3:21 am local time, pilots saw “lights that were moving eastward at the same speed of the aircraft.”
That’s all we know. We don’t know how long the lights were seen, whether they were below the plane or off the port or starboard, or what the lights looked like. So sure, they were UFOs, but without more information, this case has to be labeled as “Insufficient Information.”
Was there some additional investigation or follow-up by Nav Canada? Were the pilot and crew interviewed to obtain other details? Without any clear idea of what was observed, there’s no way of knowing if there was ever any danger to the crew or anyone else, despite this being some kind of intrusion into Canadian airspace.
Four days later, on November 16, 2022, according to case 2022A1139, something that was classified neither as a drone or a UFO was seen by a pilot flying an airliner between Toronto and St. John’s Newfoundland.
The aircraft was over Placentia Bay, over open water near a dangerous ocean location identified on maps as Shag Roost Sunkers within the Ragged Islands. (Really. For god’s sake don’t sail a boat anywhere near that place.)
The pilot thought the “strange light” was about 60 nautical miles or 110 km west of the St. John’s airport, which means the light was near the indicated coordinates of the aircraft. So was it near the aircraft?
But notice the category assigned to this incident: “Laser interference.” Unfortunately, many pilots report having green lasers shone at their aircraft while in flight, often causing temporary blindness at critical times, such as takeoff and landing. Sometimes, the culprits are UFO fans who believe the light they see in the sky is a UFO and are trying to signal the aliens on board. These are very dangerous situations, and fortunately, pilot reports of these instances are referred to RCMP who are able to track down the perpetrators.
In most of the CADORS reports with this label, it’s very clear that handheld lasers were indeed the cause, most often green in colour and shining on the cockpit. But in this case, all that was reported was “a strange light,” which could have been anything.
Again, we would need more information to better understand what happened.
On November 20, 2022, at about 3:00 pm in the afternoon, “an object with a beam of light” was seen by someone in or near Hampton, New Brunswick.
In this case, 2022A1173, there’s no indication of a pilot or crew being the witnesses, so it’s possible this was someone on the ground. Whomever it was, he or she saw this object heading northwest towards Fredericton, which would mean it was heading directly over CFB Gagetown, and at an estimated altitude of between 1000 to 2000 ft. As it flew, the object seemed to break up “into four objects with similar beams of light.”
It’s not a stretch to think that this was a military flight of some sort, the beams of light corresponding to the landing lights of an aircraft going towards the airbase.
But this was classified as a UFO, so without sufficient information about what was seen, that’s how Transport Canada filed it.
On November 23, 2022, in the early afternoon, the pilot of a small commercial flight had just taken off from a small airport in northern Saskatchewan when the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) alerted him of another aircraft in the area. This system is independent of airport radar equipment and notifies a pilot that there is another aircraft nearby. In this case, the CADORS report 2022C5963 noted that there was “No reported traffic.”
It should be noted that a TCAS alert does not necessarily mean that there’s another plane on a collision course. The TCAS can only detect another aircraft’s transponder if it is working and set properly to begin with. Then, the TCAS calculates the range and altitude and extrapolates the possible course of the other aircraft.
In most CADORS incident reports, TCAS alerts have resolutions. That is, the aircraft detected is identified and air traffic control (ATC) at the airport is able to paint it on radar and see its true course. The pilot receiving the TCAS alert is then able to change course or the other aircraft will be directed to do so. TCAS by itself does not have a radar system, but uses the onboard radar to supplement other input.
Following a TCAS alert, there will almost always be a resolution advisory (RA) which instructs the pilot on what to do. Also, the approaching aircraft will be identified.
But not always, and this is why it’s instructive to look at TCAS incident reports that don’t seem to involve another aircraft. Was the TCAS malfunctioning, or any of its input sources?
This case was an instrumented detection of an unknown object and was unresolved. In many ways, this was similar to a “UFO report” noted by a MADAR node operated by the new version of NICAP. MADAR nodes basically operate as magnetometers, detecting changes in local geomagnetic fields that are thought to be influenced by UAPs (originally UFOs). The theory is that a detection alert will send the node into action, using surveillance cameras to try and photograph and otherwise capture whatever caused the anomaly.
Such detections are noted by some UFO groups and are in fact included by NUFORC in its list of UFO report data. Given that they are instrumented detections only, without visual or other verification, they are quite similar to TCAS reports.
Later that same day, however, on November 23, 2022, but later in the day, just before midnight, odd lights were seen by pilots of a commercial aircraft flying from Washington, DC, to Zurich.
Incident report 2022A1161 notes the aircraft was located above the southern tip of Newfoundland, near Point au Gaul, close to the town of Saint Lawrence. The pilot saw “white lights moving left and right, up and down.” It’s not noted how long the lights were seen, but the last reported position was east of St. John’s, more than 150 km away, so the lights were seen for a while, at least.
Again, this was classified as “Laser interference,” which is rather odd as the plane was well over open water when the lights were first seen, and it’s pretty unlikely someone had a laser pointer on a boat around there.
The description of the lights also seems rather strange. There’s no indication of the direction in the sky the lights were seen, not their height above the water. Also, note that the plural is used: lights, not just one light. How many? In any configuration? How did these differ from stars or anything else in the sky?
One can speculate that if the lights were seen towards the south, then they might have been on fishing boats or other ships around the Grand Banks, only 250 km away.
But without further details, this case must also be considered Insufficient Information.
Finally, on November 25, 2022, there was another TCAS case, 2022Q4166, this time involving a private flight from Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, in the north to Grand-Riviere, Quebec, in the south. The pilot reported getting a TCAS about an object at 1,000 ft, while his plane was 3 NM northwest of the Rouyn-Noranda airport. No visual or radio contact with the target was made.
This collection of Canadian CADORS cases indicates that pilots are continuing to report unusual activity to authorities, in compliance with Transport Canada regulations. What we don’t know is if any of these cases were followed up or investigated further by Nav Canada or any other agency.
Some individuals have wondered about the lag in reporting and publishing incidents, but given the likelihood of bureaucratic red tape and slow administrative procedures, the average time between an incident occurring and its report release is about 10 days, something that isn’t really surprising.
Further, none of these cases suggest any kind of extratrerrestrial activity, as implied (and often explicitly stated) by UFO experts, and seem to support the cautious tone offered by representatives of the American All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) or its predecessor the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF).