Air Canada made its return to Castlegar Monday, June 28 under a water salute from the Castlegar Fire Department (CFD).
CFD greeted the airline’s 78 passenger Dash 8-Q400 plane under the hot sun at the West Kootenay Regional Airport (WKRA).
This mark’s the beginning of the Q-400’s service to the airport. Previously Air Canada flew the smaller 50 passenger Dash 8-300 into Castlegar.
The first flight was about half full and hints that travel may be increasing as provincial health orders surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic ease.
The Air Canada Express flights will be operated by Jazz Aviation LP on Monday, Thursday and Friday afternoons.
The Q400 is the plane that the City of Castlegar has been hoping Air Canada would switch to for the route because of its ability to work with the flight management system that could potentially lower the minimum cloud ceiling required for take offs and landings.
For more than four years, the city has been working with aviation experts on a plan to increase reliability at the airport. A 2017 report by Jeppesen Aviation proposed a Required Navigation Performance (RNP) system as the answer.
RNP is used in many airports around the world. An RNP approach involves satellites and a flight management system in the aircraft that guides it on an approach it would not otherwise be able to take.
An RNP system consists of computer software developed by Nav Canada for a specific airport and run by the airline. It requires no additional airport equipment.
Before it could be introduced in Castlegar, it would need Transport Canada approval and Air Canada (or another airline) to agree to use the system and train its crew members.