Questions about the Castlegar Airport study

Technology currently not available in Canada would be required to improve landing rates in Castlegar.

Technology currently not available in Canada will be required to improve landing rates at the Castlegar airport.

Jeppesen, the aviation consulting company on contract with the City of Castlegar to find a way to improve landing rates at the Castlegar airport, reported in 2014 that no technological fix was possible.

What has changed since then? Has there been a technological breakthrough since 2014 to allow this possibility?

If there is, Jeppesen doesn’t want to tell the Star about it.

In February, 2015, the Star published an article quoting two aviation experts who said there was no possible technological fix for the Castlegar airport.

They based their opinions on a report done for Nav Canada by Jeppesen about the Castlegar airport in 2014.

To assist the Star in writing that article, Jim Ferrier of Nav Canada and Jeff Bruce of Jeppesen prepared a two-page summary of Jeppesen’s 2014 report on the airport.

Nav Canada is the company that runs navigational systems in all Canadian airports.

Ferrier and Ron Singer said that RNP (Required Navigation Procedure) technology has helped airlines around the world land with greater safety under lower cloud cover or in difficult terrain, but that RNP cannot be used to improve take-off.

Even if an RNP system allowed a plane to land under low cloud cover, “air operators are unlikely to dispatch an aircraft to a destination from which it cannot depart in inclement weather,” Ferrier and Bruce said in the summary of the 2014 report.

Later this year, the City of Castlegar hired Jeppeson on a $260,000 contract to work out a technical solution to the airport’s poor landing statistics.

The Star asked Mayor Lawrence Chernoff for his view on the apparent contradiction between this contract and the study Jeppesen did for Nav Canada in 2014. We asked if there has been new technology developed since 2014.

Chernoff referred the Star to one of the Jeppesen employees who visited Castlegar last summer to develop the contract.

He did not return the Star’s emails or phone calls but referred us to Michael Pound, a Jeppesen communications officer, who told the Star he would consult someone at Jeppesen with expertise in this area and get back to us.

That was on September 21. On October 12 we sent him a reminder email. Still no response.

We emailed Nav Canada’s Singer and Ferrier and asked them to confirm the accuracy of the Star’s February article. Both told us it is accurate.

We then asked Singer what has changed, either in technology or in regulations, since 2014 when it was Jeppesen’s opinion that RNP could not be used for take-off in Castlegar or anywhere else. He said nothing has changed.

“Currently there are no RNP take-off procedures in Canada,” he said.

Singer had no comment on whether there were emerging techologies in other parts of the world that Jeppesen might recommend for Castlegar.

He said any new technology would have to be approved for use in Canada by Transport Canada.

 

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