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

The inaugural board meeting for the last UBID board was held online May 6. Screenshot, Zoom meeting
Union Bay board says no to ‘No’ side committee addition

Community is preparing to move its services to regional district for July

Town of Comox council (from left) Alex Bissinger, Ken Grant, Nicole Minions, Mayor Russ Arnott, Stephanie McGowan, Maureen Swift and Pat McKenna. Photo by Kim Stallknecht
Comox council calls on B.C. to defer old-growth logging, decriminalize illicit drugs

The motion is similar to a resolution passed by Courtenay council

A Hyundai Tucson caught fire around 11 a.m. Tuesday at 17th and Willemar. The occupants were not hurt. Scott Stanfield photo
Car catches fire in Courtenay

The occupants of a Hyundai Tucson were not injured when their car… Continue reading

A mother duck leads her brood of ducklings past some benches in the courtyard at Mark R Isfeld School in Courtenay. Photo by Kailena Krutzmann
Ducklings bring joy to students at Courtenay school

Brood of duckings in the courtyard at Mark R Isfeld School

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

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

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

A Nanaimo RCMP officer is recovering after his patrol car was hit by another vehicle at an intersection on Monday, May 10. (Photo courtesy Julia Rose)
RCMP vehicle broad-sided in Nanaimo intersection crash

Police officer recovering at home following collision Monday

A partnership is looking to identify skeletal remains that were discovered by recreational divers in the Gorge Waterway this February. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Divers find partial human skull in Victoria’s Gorge Waterway

B.C. Coroner Service determines remains likely historical, not ancestral

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. Indigenous leaders are calling for an investigation into the conduct of Mounties on Vancouver Island after two police shootings of members of a small First Nations community in three months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Indigenous leaders call for clarity, investigation into RCMP after B.C. shooting

The RCMP declined to comment on the requests by Indigenous leaders

Colleen Price, Vancouver Island University’s bachelor of science in nursing program chairperson, says she is impressed with how students have persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Next generation of B.C. nurses already showing resilience

University program head says learning had to be adjusted amidst pandemic

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old B.C. bike rider already attracting cycle sponsors

Nanaimo’s Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

Most Read