Jeppesen Aviation has presented a plan to the City of Castlegar to improve reliability at the West Kootenay Regional Airport. (Betsy Kline/Black Press)

Jeppesen Aviation has presented a plan to the City of Castlegar to improve reliability at the West Kootenay Regional Airport. (Betsy Kline/Black Press)

West Kootenay Regional Airport study gives hope of improving reliability

Airport study has come back and Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff is quite pleased with the results.

CASTLEGAR — The long-awaited study looking at increasing reliability at the West Kootenay Regional Airport (WKRA) has come back and Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff is quite pleased with the results.

The report outlines possible improvements to the landing and departure navigation systems.

In a press release Mayor Chernoff stated, “We are very excited to hear Jeppesen Aviation – one of the largest aeronautical navigation systems companies in the world — state that a new proposed navigation system could be successfully applied to greatly increase the safety and landing reliability at the West Kootenay Regional Airport in all weather conditions.”

He also added, “The study is great news for air travellers in and out of the West Kootenays. It is critical for the region’s economic growth, that we continue to improve the West Kootenay Regional Airport because it is central to the region.”

The press release explained that Jeppesen Aviation has solved similar issues to those encountered at the West Kootenay Regional Airport in other places.

The study took a year to complete and according to Chernoff has “identified new approach and departure procedures that, if fully designed and approved will dramatically improve our airport’s ability to operate when the weather becomes challenging in the winter.”

According to the Jeppesen analysis, reliability can be improved with a new navigational design for landings and departures that would reduce the current height limitations drastically.

It may be quite some time before any of the ideas presented can be put into place as both federal regulatory agencies and air carriers must buy in to the plan.

The proposed design would require “specific permissions” designed for the WKRA.

The mayor stated, “The proposed design will need specific approvals from Transport Canada for design features that, while not yet in practice in Canada, have all been previously approved in the United States.”

City staff will be meeting with the regulatory agencies within the next month.

The $260,000 study was funded by a partnership of stakeholders including the City of Castlegar, the City of Nelson, the Regional District of Central Kootenay and the Columbia Basin Trust.

Chernoff announced that the study had been received at Monday night’s city council meeting where he stated, “I think, for us, it is a giant step forward in improving reliability at the West Kootenay Regional Airport. I have sat in this chair for a long time … I think we are finally headed in the right direction.”