trudeau waves nobody

Justin Trudeau waves before boarding an RCAF VIP transport aircraft to Washington, DC. A little-known fact about these types of photos: Trudeau usually isn't waving at anybody, but he does it anyway because it makes for a good photo.
Flight trackers kept exposing Trudeau's spending scandals, and then the PM's jet was ordered concealed

The Canadian media has long made excellent use of online flight trackers to document the bizarre taxpayer-funded travel habits of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet.

There was the time in 2019 when Trudeau tweeted "climate change is real" while briefly interrupting a Florida vacation to fly back to Ottawa for a single meeting - a roundtrip that burned 1,400 litres of jet fuel. He took a Christmas vacation that year to Costa Rica that somehow required five separate roundtrip jet flights from Ottawa.

And, of course, there was the time last September when Trudeau clandestinely slipped away for a beach vacation to Tofino rather than commemorate Canada's first-ever Truth and Reconciliation Day.

trudeau hides jet flights
© Bryan Passifiume/FlightTracker24
In this September 2021 screen capture taken by Postmedia reporter Bryan Passifiume, the prime ministerial jet approaches Tofino for a beach vacation on Canada’s first-ever Truth and Reconciliation Day.
But starting on Wednesday, the movements of Canadian government aircraft started mysteriously disappearing from the internet as part of an apparent move by Ottawa to conceal the itineraries of its VIP flights.

Flightradar24 - one of the world's most utilized flight trackers - this week began hiding the movements of any aircraft carrying the call sign CANFORCE ONE, the usual indicator of an RCAF jet carrying the prime minister. Also hidden is any aircraft bearing the call sign CANFORCE 3701, which is used for the Governor General.

Ironically, none of the concealments actually prevent the prime minister's jet from being tracked. As noted by National Post reporter Bryan Passifiume, it's still possible to track the movements of the RCAF's VIP jets by their tail number.

The average Flightradar24 user can still keep tabs on 15001, the tail number used by the liveried CC-150 Polaris typically used by the prime minister for long-haul flights. The same holds true for 144618, the tail number for one of the smaller Challenger jets typically used for domestic prime ministerial travel.

Oddly, nobody is quite sure who ordered the call signs to be concealed.

Last week, NAV Canada sent an official note to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration requesting that a number of RCAF call signs (including CANFORCE ONE) be added to the agency's LADD list. The acronym stands for Limiting Aircraft Data Displayed, and the list is a filter that blocks the "public dissemination" of aircraft information by request of the operator.

Normally, this request would have come to NAV Canada by way of the Canadian Armed Forces, who operate all the VIP aircraft used by the prime minister. But an RCAF source told the National Post on Thursday that while they had considered taking their callsigns down from public flight trackers, no such decision has been made.

Last week's NAV Canada memo wasn't just limited to VIP aircraft, either. It requested the concealment of 10 other RCAF call signs, including those used for drug interdiction flights (MOLSON), fighter sorties (VIMY, ODIN) and even search and rescue (OILER, HUNTER).

The LADD list most notably contains the world's most famous VIP transport: Air Force One, the U.S. presidential plane - although, as with CanForceOne it can easily be tracked anyway by using the tail number (usually 28000 or 29000).

While no reason was given for last week's NAV Canada memo, it's worth noting that any number of sensitive aircraft remain freely trackable via Flightradar24.

Passifiume noted that while he can't track the prime minister jet via its call sign anymore, he can still do it for spy planes, for transport aircraft to and from the United States' ultra-secretive Area 51 and even for the Boeing E-6 Mercury, the so-called "Doomsday Plane" intended to act as an airborne command centre in the event of nuclear war.

The now untrackable CANFORCE ONE currently en route for meetings & fundraiser in Halifax.

Among aircraft still trackable: