There’s been many positives at YZZ (Trail Regional Airport) since the city took ownership three years ago. A staff manager oversees daily operations, Transport Canada is satisfied with updates post inspection, Nav Canada recently approved lower ceilings and most importantly, reliability landed consistently near 90 per cent last winter.
But the biggest changes are yet to come.
“The Trail Regional Airport will finish 2016 having undergone many changes,” says Coun. Kevin Jolly, airport steering committee chair. “Throughout the year we saw the role of Airport Manager filled by a new but familiar face with Robert Baker (Deputy Director of Parks & Rec) taking over the helm from Don Goulard.”
The completion of the new fuel tanks installation and minor renovations at the flying club capped a year of modest capital improvements, Jolly added.
“But the big story was, of course, the Air Access grant which was approved by the province of B.C. for $1.1 million towards the construction of the new Airport Terminal Building,” he explained. “Construction is slated to begin in early 2017 and the city has partnered once again with the MMM Group to manage this critical project to completion.”
This past summer, Pacific Coastal celebrated their 10th anniversary of servicing the flying public of the Kootenays and beyond at YZZ.
“We were also happy to learn of the new lowered approach limits approved by Nav-Canada which go into effect this winter,” he said. “Looking forward to 2017 a decision is expected soon on the ACAP (Airport Capital Assistance Program) grant for the repaving of the runway. Exciting things are happening at YZZ and 2017 is looking like it will be another busy year.”
In mid-November the city announced Nav Canada’s approval to lower ceilings from the strip’s north and south approaches.
Effective Jan. 5, aircraft coming in from the north will be 1,300 feet lower than the current regulations, and the new approach limit coming from the south will be 400 feet lower.
Lesser approach limits are critical for this area during cloudy or foggy weather and will result in fewer cancelled landings and take-offs, the city maintains.
“We are very excited at the increased reliability this will provide Trail airport travelers,” Jolly said. “Providing reliable and affordable service will continue to open up new economic development and tourism opportunities for Trail and the entire region.”
After working for two years with JetPro, an Alberta-based engineering firm that specializes in instrument flight procedures, YZZ has a new system that applies the latest in satellite-based navigational technology.
The city invested $12,600 for JetPro to undertake the work required to gain approvals from Nav Canada.
And the timing couldn’t be better, said Trail Mayor Mike Martin.
“Poor weather with extensive cloud cover is inevitable as we head into the winter months,” he told the Trail Times. “The new lower approach limits will further improve the airport’s contribution towards reliable air access into the region; therefore, we are absolutely delighted with the results of the work undertaken by JetPro. This news also aligns well with our Airport Terminal Building Project,” Martin continued. “By the end of 2017, Trail Regional Airport passengers can expect a new terminal building with improved facilities and amenities, ample parking and a convenient passenger drop off area.”
At the end of the day, lower limits are a great addition to the advantage smaller airlines already have.
“Very early in the day, larger airlines tends to make a decision to cancel flights for the day and put that plane somewhere else,” says Pacific Coastal Airlines’ Director of Business Development Kevin Boothroyd. “What we do, is that we sit and wait and hold for a potential opening and then we’ll go -so it may be an hour or two late, but we will get you there.”
Lower approach limits, as approved by Nav Canada, should provide us with more opportunities to land at the Trail Regional Airport during the winter months, Boothroyd added.
“This announcement is good news for the Trail Regional Airport, and for all the residents of the West Kootenay Boundary Region.”