October 03, 2012 10:01 ET

Two NAV CANADA Employees Receive International Awards

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 3, 2012) -

Editors Note: There is a photo associated with this press release.

NAV CANADA is pleased to announce that two employees have been presented with awards from the Washington D.C. based Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA).

Eric Leygues, an Air Traffic Controller at the Montreal Area Control Centre is a recipient of the Andy Pitas Memorial Award which recognizes the provision of exceptional air traffic service and flight assistance that resulted in the safe recovery of an emergency aircraft.

Yan Zhao, Senior Systems Design & Development Specialist at the Technical Systems Centre in Ottawa was chosen for this year's ATCA Life Cycle Management Award. This award recognizes an individual whose design, development, deployment, maintenance or logistical support had a significant positive impact on the performance or operation of an important Air Traffic Control system.

"I am doubly proud that these two dedicated men are being honoured with these well-deserved awards," said John Crichton, NAV CANADA President and CEO. "Yan and Eric's hard work and extra efforts exemplify the values of safety and efficiency that our Company holds.

"I applaud the outstanding achievements and contributions that earned them tribute from the premier international association for air traffic control," said Crichton.

Mr. Zhao and Mr. Leygues were each presented with their awards on October 1, 2012 at the ATCA Annual Awards luncheon held in connection with the 57th Annual ATCA Conference and Exposition in National Harbor, Maryland. (See photo).

Both men were also recognized by NAV CANADA earlier this year as recipients of the Chairman's Award for Employee Excellence. (See biographies attached below).

Marking 15 years as Canada's private sector civil air navigation services provider, with operations from coast to coast to coast, NAV CANADA provides air traffic control, flight information, weather briefings, aeronautical information services, airport advisory services and electronic aids to navigation.


Eric Leygues,
Air Traffic Controller, Montreal Area Control Centre

Sometimes you are the right person, in the right place, at the right time. That was Eric Leygues on the night he helped the pilot of a Cessna 172 restart his dead engine after declaring an emergency. Eric had taken a personal interest in this flight, having flown the same route in the exact same aircraft when he was logging miles for his pilot's license.

When Eric went on break he handed off to the relieving controller, giving her the necessary information on the flight. He stayed around a while to make sure she had all the information when all of a sudden came the chilling words:

"Montreal Centre, IXX is declaring an emergency. We have lost our engine."

Hearing this, Eric stayed to help his colleague. At 3,000 feet, and unable to reach the nearest airport, the panicked pilot stated that he was in descent and looking to land on the highway - a harrowing prospect given the hilly terrain and twisted roads.

Having been at the controls of that very plane, Eric asked the pilot if he had tried checking the fuel selector. That did the trick, and in the nick of time. After suggesting an airport suitable for a precautionary landing, Eric proceeded to work the phones in an effort to have someone there to meet the shaken pilot on landing.

Were it not for Eric's actions that night, the situation could have ended very differently for the three people on board the flight.

Yan Zhao,
Senior Systems Design & Development Specialist, Technical Systems Centre, Ottawa

Yan Zhao plays a critical role in designing many of the new functionalities of NAVCANatm, the Company's line of leading integrated air traffic management products, applications and services. Yan combines exceptional technical know-how with a critical marketing eye.

For example, recently there was a request to demonstrate to a potential foreign buyer an integrated product merging weather data into flight-data functionality. Yan put a task force together and produced a successful demonstration that would turn out to be the prototype for an upgraded system that will soon be deployed to all NAV CANADA Flight Service Stations.

Yan has played an integral part in enhancing performance of NAVCANatm. He is an important team member in implementing NAVCANatm products in the U.K., Denmark, Dubai, and the US.

On other projects internally, Yan brought forward a number of solutions that will save significant future costs. One of Yan's solutions included a major improvement that will allow us to handle growing system loads without having to upgrade all the data managers. He also introduced a new way to efficiently process VSPs (variable system parameters) - allowing the Company to continue with our current hardware line. Once again, Yan's problem solving helped NAV CANADA avoid major expenditures.

NAVCANatm is a global success story, and behind that success is the innovative thinking, extraordinary work ethic and commitment to excellence of Yan Zhao.

To view the photo associated with this press release, please visit the following link:

Contact Information

  • Michelle Bishop
    Director, Government and Public Affairs
    (613) 563-7520

    Ron Singer
    Manager, Media Relations
    (613) 563-7303