Nav Canada suspends overnight air navigation services at Terrace airport

Nav Canada suspends overnight air navigation services at Terrace airport

Airport will not have a Flight Service Specialist working between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The Kitimat Northern Sentinel has learned that Nav Canada will be suspending its overnight air navigation services at 18 air traffic service facilities, including the Northwest Regional Airport (YXT) in Terrace.

Eleven of the closures are in B.C., while Newfoundland has two and Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan each have one. Suspensions include air traffic control towers, flight service stations (FSS) and locations which receive remote airport advisory services. In the case of YXT, the airport will have its FSS suspended overnight between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Nav Canada has said reductions will begin in the next week and are scheduled to last for at least 120 days, “subject to prevailing conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

READ MORE: Air Canada suspending all flights to Northwest airports except Terrace

With this in mind, YXT manager Carman Hendry said that flight services specialists who work out of the FSS are slightly different than an air traffic controller operating out of something like Victoria International Airport (YYJ). While an air traffic controller controls the movement of aircrafts, flight services specialists advise airport conditions for the region to pilots flying in the area. “An air traffic controller tells the pilot what he has to do,” explained Hendry. “A flight service specialist tells him what’s going on in the area and then he makes a decision.”

Hendry said there are currently no commercial airliners running flights to the airport between these hours and that the only aircrafts which could be affected by the closure, in the sense they would not be able to communicate directly with a flight services specialist, would be a medevac or itinerant traffic (anything that isn’t an airline on a schedule: helicopters, corporate flights, etc.) coming in during these hours. He said medevac numbers can be somewhat sporadic but that when the annual figures are averaged the airport sees 1.5 a day, for everything from patient transfers to life-threatening emergencies.

It’s unclear whether COVID-19 and Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace’s recent designation as a primary care centre for the treatment of critically-ill patients with the virus will have a significant impact on the total number of medevacs coming through the airport.

When asked about these hypothetical late-night flights, Hendry explained there are procedures in place that pilots have to follow at other airports in the situation where they are attempting to land without FSS support. “Definitely everybody needs to be more alert, that’s for sure,” he said.

In a May 5 release detailing the changes Nav Canada said effected airports will remain open and aircraft will continue to be able to land and depart. In addition, the company said any site that has had its overnight air traffic services impacted will have a number of enhanced services available for pilots. This includes communication capability during all phases of flight, via flight information centers (FICs) or area control centers (ACCs) and an aircraft’s pilots. “This will maintain communication between pilots and the respective FIC and/or ACC in order to provide current and forecast weather, NOTAM, IFR approach and departure clearances,” the company said, adding that communication coverage exists either to or below circuit altitude, with most sites having coverage to the ground.

The release adds that affected airports will also have, at a minimum, hourly weather updates on wind, temperature, dew point and altimeter information.

However Hendry said they won’t include other things. “There’s nobody that’s going to say ‘hey, there’s fog … nothing like that,” he said. “There wouldn’t be any visibility reports, there wouldn’t be any precipitation [reports].”

He also expressed uncertainty about the 120-day period which has been applied to the reductions. “How do they turn this off? Are they going to stick to the 120 days, or can it be turned off at any time between now and the 120 days? What has to happen in order for them to turn this off?”

In terms of runway and airport lighting, Hendry said the airport has come up with an energy-efficient way to ensure that pilots have consistent access to YXT’s lighting when landing. “The plan [was] to have the lights turned on before [the flight services specialists] leave at 10 o’clock at night and then they go back into their control at 6 a.m.,” said Hendry. “That would be leaving the lights on all night, so the airport is installing a system called the Arcal and what that does is gives the pilots radio control of the lights.”

For their part, Nav Canada says the temporary level of service change will allow the company to implement flexible staffing, which it says will ultimately reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure to its teams across the country. “These new measures greatly reduce the likelihood of a full-unit closure and keep operators and the flying public safe through continued delivery of essential air navigation services.”

The company is currently implementing a crew system at all of its area control centres that sees minimal interaction between teams to ensure safety. However they say that these changes come with the cost of a temporary reduction in service at a number of their regional facilities.

Nav Canada says the changes were only made after a full and detailed risk analysis indicated to the company the temporary level of service changes at affected sites could be implemented safely.



trevor.hewitt@interior-news.com
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Local health authority maps are updated each week. The brown maps show the number of confirmed and active cases of COVID-19 for the week of Jan. 15 to 21, with the blue map showing cases over the past year. (Image supplied)
COVID-19 outbreak numbers increase at Acropolis and exposures are up in S.D. 52

Business COVID-19 safety plans are law, public needs to follow health protocols - Northern Health

Asher Hauknes shows his strength with Prince Rupert Gymnastics head coach Erin Hipkiss looking on Nov. 13. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Gymnastics Association benefits from Community Gaming Grant

Prince Rupert sports club to receive just less than $90,000 to build new facility

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

Prince Rupert Fire Rescue was dispatched to a boat fire on Jan. 21 at Fairview Marina. (Photo: supplied)
Boat fire under investigation

Prince Rupert Fire Rescue attended boat fire at Fairview Marina

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

Filmmaker Tamara Bell proposing the Indigenous Identity Act – to dissuade ‘Indigenous identity theft’

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)
First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

Most Read