One of Coulson Aviation’s 737 fireliners sits on the apron near the Alberni Valley Regional Airport terminal at sunset in May 2018. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

One of Coulson Aviation’s 737 fireliners sits on the apron near the Alberni Valley Regional Airport terminal at sunset in May 2018. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Alberni airport one step closer to published GPS approach

Airport superintendent says designs are now in Nav Canada’s hands

Designs for GPS approaches and departures into Alberni Valley Regional Airport are now under review by federal authorities. This is the latest step in improvements at the airport that have been ongoing since 2016, says Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District airport superintendent Mark Fortune.

“GPS approaches and departures have been designed for the (Alberni) airport and have been submitted to Nav Canada for review,” said Fortune, who oversees both the Long Beach (Tofino) and Alberni Valley Regional Airport. Nav Canada owns and operates the civil air navigation system in Canada.

A GPS approach helps pilots locate airports and guide them in for landing in less-than-ideal weather. A published GPS approach and proper lighting are two necessary steps that an airport must have in place to be considered for commercial air traffic, ACRD officials have said.

Fortune said flight testing on the approaches will take place sometime in 2019, with full approval coming after that.

A request for proposals on the GPS design closed in May 2017.

READ: Alberni’s airport reopens with expanded runway

The GPS approach is just one project that is happening with the Alberni Valley Regional Airport, Fortune said. “We have to clear all the obstacles we know exist. It can be challenging at times with multi-jurisdictions.”

Work continues on Northwest Industrial Road, which the ACRD is lowering to accommodate the GPS approach and landing. The project is three-quarters completed, and will take approximately another two months to finish, weather permitting, he said.

Regional district crews are also doing some work on the east side of the airport along Nahmint Service Road. Tree clearing has also taken place in the area.

While all the work is being done the airport “is functioning as it should,” he said. Coulson Aviation has been able to fly its 737 jets in and out of the airport on the expanded runway.

“The airport is doing everything it’s been designed to do, which is being able to handle those larger aircraft,” Fortune said.

“It’s a nice-looking airport at the moment.”

The Alberni Flying Club held its annual open house at the airport on Sunday, June 24. Although the event drew members of the public curious to see the facility, low clouds and rain prevented all but three aircraft from visiting. One came from Nanaimo, one from Boundary Bay Airport and one from Abbotsford.