Nav Canada is considering closing its Castlegar operation. Photo: Betsy Kline

Nav Canada is considering closing its Castlegar operation. Photo: Betsy Kline

Air Traffic Specialist Association: Flight Service Specialists needed at Castlegar’s airport

Nav Canada is considering closing Castlegar Flight Service Station

Submitted by Elizabeth O’Hurley, President Air Traffic Specialists Association of Canada

It is important for people to understand the impact that Flight Service Specialists (FSS) have on aviation safety and efficiency at the West Kootenay Regional Airport.

It is especially important, because Nav Canada, Canada’s air-navigation service provider, is considering closing Castlegar Flight Service Station.

RELATED: Nav Canada considering closing station at West Kootenay Regional Airport

FSS have been providing service here for thirty years. Their geographical knowledge, familiarity with local weather, and relationships with users make a huge impact on flight planning and in-flight decision-making. FSS also co-ordinate immediate emergency responses, when needed.

Traffic numbers (arrivals/departures) are one way to look at service requirements. Another more important consideration is safety. Castlegar is one of the most challenging airports to use in North America. FSS, working from the airport tower, make the difference in safety by relaying traffic information to pilots who may not be able to see or hear each other due to altitude, line-of-sight issues, and terrain. Without flight service specialists, situational complexity, pilot workload, and risk of collision can increase quickly.

FSS bridge an enormous safety gap for pilots operating below the mountain ridgelines. Within these narrow flight corridors, there is very little room for error. FSS give pilots the confidence and information they need to operate safely at WKRA, and even assist aircraft flying into Nelson and Trail, on a regular basis.

Every flight is critical for the growth and well-being of communities in the West Kootenays. Medevac services, aerial firefighting, commercial travel, and recreational pilots all benefit from the expertise that FSS give to pilots navigating our challenging landscape. Losing our FSS means losing the eyes, ears, and voice of air traffic safety in our airport tower, and in our community.

Please support your FSS.

Elizabeth O’Hurley

President Air Traffic Specialists Association of Canada

Unifor Local 2245



betsy.kline@castlegarnews.com

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