LETTER: In flying, safety is paramount

This was a very complete article explaining some of the math facts regarding weather limits for arrival and departure.

A retired pilot who has flown in and out of Castlegar many times says technology can only do so much to compensate for mountainous terrain.

A retired pilot who has flown in and out of Castlegar many times says technology can only do so much to compensate for mountainous terrain.

Re: “No fix for Castlegar airport, experts say”

This was a very complete article explaining some of the math facts regarding weather limits at the Castlegar airport for arrival and departure.

Missing was the technical side of aircraft performance, limitations, fail safe procedures, airframe contamination,system failures and other things that degrade the absolute capability of the aircraft to fly, manoeuvre and climb.All must be calculated before an approach is made and a departure is contemplated.

As a long-term captain (33.5 years), who spent much of his career flying the BC district, I know of what I speak.Technology can only do so much: it provides greater safety and accuracy for navigation but does nothing to help us with our ability to out climb a mountain whilst dealing with the various failures and environmental factors mentioned previously.

We must climb out to get above the peaks before any other decision can be made. It’s called safety. I flew my career safe and I flew for an airline whose model was always safety. I was trained to think and be safe, and I have exercised my captain’s authority many times when I, as the captain, felt that the conditions were not safe to depart or land as I had to ensure the safety of the aircraft, my crew and most of all, my passengers who entrusted me with their well-being. NO was a complete sentence!

Safety understanding tends to go out the window when somebody just wants to get home for Christmas, get to a meeting that can’t be rescheduled, or an aircraft is needed to maintain schedule integrity. Again, I was trained to filter out the “noise” and conduct myself and crew as a professional entity and not deviate from the expressed model of safety.

Castlegar is a somewhat unique airport in that it is a hybrid for arrival and departure as the aircraft has to be manoeuvred visually to specific points within the confines of the valley before transitioning to instrument flight or from instrument flight. There are many of these in BC. These are committal points. Weather is not absolute and it changes in seconds. If you have ever seen low cloud hanging around the edges of the valley, and how snow or precipitation degrades the visibility in both definition and distance, then you put that on your windshield you get my point. All things happen very fast in an aircraft. The valley gets much smaller along with the margins for error when dealing with these conditions.

In conclusion, the next time your flight is cancelled due to weather as filed from the weather station at the Castlegar airport (remember these folks are highly trained professionals in meteorology reporting and are our eyes when we are above or in cloud), say thanks to the system airline and crew who put your safety above all else and don’t bend the rules. It’s an inconvenience but much better than an accident. Trust me.

Capt. Ross Shears, Air Canada Jazz (Retired), Riondel

Just Posted

Forty sled dogs were seized by the BC SPCA from a Salmo kennel in February. A recent ruling has decided the dogs won’t be returned. Photo: Gounsil/Flickr
BC Farm Industry Review Board rules against Salmo kennel after 40 sled dogs seized

Spirit of the North Kennels was also ordered to pay BC SPCA $64,000

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Image: Castleview Care Centre’s Safety Den presentation
Castlegar’s Castleview Care Centre wins safety innovation competition

The Dragon’s Den-style competition was sponsored by Safecare BC

SD20 now has an electric bus. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay-Columbia School District 20 adds electric bus to fleet

Bus will be incorporated into Castlegar route for next school year

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

Most Read