Nanaimo Airport can now report runway conditions to NAV Canada considerably faster than before with the installation of a new device funded by the federal government.
A $30,000 electronic runway condition reporting system, paid for through the federal Airports Capital Assistance Program and installed at the end of March, will provide timely, accurate and precise wireless reporting and recording of runway conditions.
“Before, there was a lot of paperwork work to be filled out by hand, and the information would have to be faxed in,” said Reg Brady, operations manager at Nanaimo Airport. “It would take 15 to 20 minutes each time. Now it takes eight seconds from the time we take the measurement. It frees up a considerable amount of time for us, and provides better feedback to the dispatchers making the decisions for pilots.”
The device is an onboard computer in a pick-up truck that feeds information remotely to an office computer which relays it to NAV Canada.
When runway conditions call for it – usually when there is significant precipitation in the form of rain, frost, ice or snow – the truck is deployed to measure friction on the runway by decelerating rapidly every 300 metres.
About 12 deceleration tests are done along the length of the runway. If results warrant it, a chemical is used to dry the runway, or snowplows are deployed.
The information is relayed to NAV Canada dispatchers who advise incoming pilots if it is safe to land.
“This equipment will allow pilots to receive runway condition information much sooner during rain and winter conditions which will enhance safety for travellers,” said Mike Hooper, Nanaimo Airport Commission president and CEO.
On June 24, WestJet will begin non-stop daily service between Nanaimo and Calgary using its Encore fleet of Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft, and Air Canada will continue its service to Vancouver using its de Havilland Dash 8s.
“The landing requirements for jets and turboprops is different,” said Brady. “For both services, this new feature will improve safety and efficiency.”
Nanaimo-Alberni Conservative MP James Lunney made the official funding announcement Friday at Nanaimo Airport on behalf of Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Denis Lebel.
“People will be able to fly into Nanaimo with a greater confidence,” said Lunney. “The airport is an economic driver in our community, it’s an important economic hub and it is becoming increasingly busier.”