As part of an effort to find solutions for cancelled flights at the West Kootenay Regional Airport (YCG), newly retired Castlegar CAO John Malcolm has been hired on a six-month contract to act on the city’s behalf as an airport consultant.
He is moving forward on the process started during his CAO tenure of further refining the Jeppesen Required Navigational Performance (RNP) analysis, coordinating with Nav Canada and Transport Canada for design approval and meeting with Air Canada, WestJet or other airlines for commitment to use the RNP approach when approved.
Aeronautical navigation system company Jeppesen Aviation produced an analysis and report for the City of Castlegar last year identifying the incorporation of RNP procedures by airlines flying into Castlegar as the solution to increasing landing rates.
The problem is the terrain. Having an airport in a tight valley between mountains brings limitations. That is why the Jeppesen plan doesn’t call for any physical changes to the airport runways, but rather adding a computerized approach program to the aircraft that allows for curved approaches rather than the straight-line approaches used now.
Malcolm has long been a proponent of the need for a regional airport to support the economic growth of the entire area.
“The benefits extend into the region — if the region did not have a secure, national airline connector, it would suffer even more than the current issues now put in its way,” said Malcolm in an interview last fall.
“It seems inevitable to me that the advances in technology will provide a real solution to the airport’s winter reliability issues.”
Malcolm’s goals will be to get an airline partner to support Castlegar’s RNP bid and get Nav Canada to proceed with development of the approach. The airline partner would then test the approach in a simulator to determine if there are any issues to address.
Once simulator testing is complete the next step would be to seek Transport Canada certification for the approach.
YCG sees between 70,000 and 80,000 passengers a year.
According to City of Castlegar airport data, 2016 successful landing rates were 99 per cent for the summer and fall, 95 per cent for the spring and 64 per cent for the winter.
Malcolm will be paid on an hourly basis at a rate of $130 for field work and office work. His travel expenses will be covered and a travel policy states business class can be used for flights over three hours, hotel accommodation is at Fairmont Hotels at the commercial rate or equivalent, taxis and car rentals are covered where necessary, meals are covered as per the city’s usual meal policy and entertainment expenses for clients are reimbursed on a receipted claim basis.