Flying in and out of Comox will be more difficult for awhile

Comox resident Geoff Russell was unimpressed when his family couldn't fly out of the Comox Valley Airport for two days on the weekend.

FRUSTRATED AIRLINE PASSENGERS wait to hear if their flight will be able to take off from Comox Valley Airport.

FRUSTRATED AIRLINE PASSENGERS wait to hear if their flight will be able to take off from Comox Valley Airport.

Comox resident Geoff Russell was unimpressed when his family couldn’t fly out of the Comox Valley Airport for two days on the weekend — and stranded passengers will likely be more common this fall and winter.

“The weather was no worse Friday night, all day Saturday, than it is on many, many occasions,” Russell told the Record. “I was quite annoyed at the time and it certainly created a lot of inconvenience for a lot of people.

“We were all told it was weather-related, and it was no different to a normal winter’s day in the Valley.”

Russell’s son, daughter-in-law and their two small children, were scheduled to catch a WestJet flight to Calgary Friday evening. The plane was unable to land, and returned to Calgary. The family tried to leave again Saturday to no avail. Russell drove them to Victoria early Sunday morning so they could catch a flight.

A number of flights were rerouted or cancelled Friday and Saturday and again Monday.

Comox Valley Airport CEO Fred Bigelow agreed the weather wasn’t unusual for the Comox Valley, and noted he’s concerned about further flight landing problems this fall and winter.

“The weather certainly isn’t unusual; what’s unusual right now is with the instrument approaches to the runways,” said Bigelow. “There are restrictions right now on the instrument approaches, which preclude aircraft from descending as low as they normally would.

“These higher minima will pose challenges for the operators coming in and out of Comox, and it’s a concern for us for sure as we approach the winter season.

“We will expect more problems than we would otherwise have because of these higher approach limits.”

Col. Jim Benninger, wing commander for 19 Wing Comox, which is in charge of airport operations, said two issues are causing the higher approach limits; one is the height of some trees around the airport — which is an ongoing issue — and the other is some work on the runway.

“We have the issue with the over-height obstacles, the natural growth in the area, which has caused an elevation of the minimum altitude to which pilots can descend before they have to look out the window and see if they can see the airport or not,” he explained, adding the work on runway improvements has shortened the main runway from 10,000 to 7,000 feet.

“The net result of both of them raises the height of the decision altitude to 500 feet (from 200 feet).”

He added if pilots can’t see out of the aircraft at the decision altitude height due to lower cloud, or any other factors, they won’t land on that approach. They can try again from a slightly different approach or detour to another airport.

According to Benninger, the runway work is expected to last until the end of March. Tree remediation is not scheduled to be complete until December 2013 due to environmental considerations. Great Blue Herons and eagles live in some of the trees so the base is conferring with the Canadian Wildlife Service and Environment Canada to ensure the birds are disturbed as little as possible.

The altitude at which pilots must decide whether or not to land at should go back to 200 feet once all the work is complete.

For details on flight arrivals and departures, visit www.comoxairport.com.

— With files from CTV Vancouver Island

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton, standing at right, sits on steering committees of two organizations that are tackling the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. File photo
Courtenay councillor leads campaign to reduce building-sector GHG emissions

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton wants local governments to carry a little more… Continue reading

A rendering shows the entrance planned for the Hornby Island Arts Centre. Image supplied
Numerous Comox Valley projects get CERIP grants

Numerous Comox Valley projects have received grants through the Community Economic Recovery… Continue reading

Thrifty Foods. (Black Press file photo)
Thrifty Foods confirms staff member tests positive for COVID-19 in Courtenay

The company currently lists 12 stores within B.C. with confirmed cases

Comox Valley Schools’ distance learning program, Navigate (NIDES), which saw some large gains in enrolment this year, could see a return to normal numbers come September. Image, screenshot
Comox Valley Schools expects enrolment drop come fall

Decline projected online, as more students return to ‘bricks-and-mortar’ classes

Cumberland will be looking to a parcel tax to cover debt for its new water system. File photo
Cumberland plans for parcel tax to cover water debt

Parcel tax review panel would take place March 22, if necessary

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Most Read