Campbell River-based Cascadia Air has launched a ‘rapid emergency air delivery’ service instead of its planned commuter airline. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Vision coming into focus for Port Alberni’s regional airport

As interest builds from aviation companies, ACRD focuses on what it wants at the airport

The Alberni Valley Regional Airport’s GPS approach is still in the hands of Nav Canada. Receiving federal approval of this approach is a key to future expansion at the airport.

“It’s in Nav Canada’s hands. They’re reviewing the data,” Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District airport manager Mark Fortune said in May. He admits COVID-19 closures and restrictions have slowed the process, but he is still hopeful the new GPS approach will be active by fall of 2020.

Installation of a new weather station was supposed to happen in March, but the ACRD was still waiting on some of the components.

READ: Alberni Valley Regional Airport to replace aging weather station

The AVRA received a $65,000 B.C. Air Access cost-sharing grant in June 2019 to help pay for the new weather station, which will provide real-time weather data that is required for the Nav Canada application for the GPS approach, Fortune said.

The new weather station, which was to be installed this spring, is another piece of the puzzle: without an on-site weather station any GPS approach into Port Alberni’s airport carries an altitude penalty. At the moment pilots have to rely on reports from weather stations from other locations like Comox, Nanaimo or Tofino (Long Beach Airport).

“We’ll be able to apply for lower altitude with a lower break out,” Fortune explained. Right now, pilots have to be able to see the runway at an altitude that is higher than the Beaufort Mountains surrounding the Alberni Valley. The weather station will give the AVRA a 700- to 800-foot reduction in altitude requirement “which is huge for our airport.”

The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District’s airport advisory committee has kickstarted meetings again, dealing first with an election of officers and then recommending a letter of support for a small airline to do business at the AVRA.

With the GPS approach well on its way to fruition and interest growing in the airport, the advisory committee is tasked to create a vision for the facility. Former mayor Mike Ruttan was re-elected chair of the airport committee and will lead the way.

“We’ll do that with a consultant,” Ruttan said. “The ACRD has money set aside to assist with that.”

After holding few meetings since its inception, the airport advisory committee will begin the vision process in July.

Ruttan said he is well positioned to help guide the airport’s vision. “I’ve been involved in the airport for quite a while and it’s a particular interest of mine,” he said. “Especially developing it to reach its potential—whatever that potential might be.”

There are complications: the AVRA may be called an airport, but it is classified as an aerodrome. That’s a sticking point to getting regularly scheduled commuter air service, says ACRD manager of environmental services Rob Williams.

READ: New Vancouver Island airline eyes Alberni’s airport for charter flights

The GPS approach is a big step to reclassifying the aerodrome, he said.

While not a certified airport, the AVRA can still be used for charter service or air cargo, flight training schools or aerial firefighting, Fortune said. “What counts in Transport Canada’s world (as commuter service) is bums in seats on a regular service.”

Cascadia Air of Campbell River has indicated interest in running charter air service out of Port Alberni’s airport when demand calls for it.

The aviation company has received ACRD letters of support to operate in both Port Alberni and Tofino.

Ruttan said the airport represents an economic opportunity for the Alberni Valley. “I hope we can help it become even more than it is,” he said.

New hangars are being built and Coulson Aviation is looking at an expansion.

“Our airport is ideally suited for forest firefighting,” Ruttan said.

“It could be more than it is. Geographically, it’s a good location for the Island and the west coast of B.C.”



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

airportsAlberni-Clayoquot Regional Districtaviation

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Vancouver Island pig hogs the limelight by crashing Saturday night party

Central Saanich oinker reunited with owner thanks to missing animal help group

Canadian Ferry Association cautions against politicizing BC Ferry operations

Reasonable safety, not politicized safety way to go, Canadian Ferry Association says

Beloved Parksville volunteer awarded key to the city

July 6 (her 90th birthday) proclaimed as ‘Joan Lemoine Day’

EDITORIAL: Weather playing guessing games

Remember those near zero precipitation totals of July 2017 and ‘18?

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

VIDEO: Dashcam footage shows Victoria police-involved crash

Video shows VicPD officer strike another vehicle at intersection

Cowichan School District wins top trades training award

“The welding program provided an amazing head start on my career”

Victoria Classic Boat Festival cancelled due to safety concerns

Organizers say Inner Harbour doesn’t provide enough space for physical distancing

Renowned Greater Victoria hockey player back to help with female youth teams

Micah Zandee-Hart has played for the senior national team since 2016

Virtual film industry career fair offers chance to talk with the experts

Experts in 11 different departments, three film union representative will be in attendance

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

RCMP recovers more than $30,000 in stolen property from Saanich storage unit

Items linked to several thefts across Greater Victoria

Canadians with disabilities disproportionately hit by COVID-19 pandemic

More than four out of 10 British Columbians aged 70 and up have various disabilities

Most Read