Even with the best laid plans and equipment, Mother Nature sometimes has ideas of her own. The wide scale fog bank that has been gripping the lower mainland for weeks is a perfect example.
In the early days before the Instrument Landing System (ILS) fog had the upper hand at the Nanaimo Airport in the winter. “Our weather reliability rating in the winter was poor, with January being the worst month of the year for fog,” explains Mike Hooper, President and CEO of the Nanaimo Airport. “Since the installation of the ILS, our year round weather reliability has climbed to over 99%.”
This January however, Mother Nature is reminding airports across the province who is boss. “With over 400 scheduled flights per month the fog has affect about 5% of our flights. Although we are not alone in our pain, as Vancouver, Victoria and Comox as well as the float planes have all been affected by the fog, we know any lost flight impacts our customers. The only good news is with the frequency of the schedule we have, customers are usually re-accommodated and on their way quite quickly when the weather improves ,” says Hooper.
The ILS at Nanaimo Airport, which was installed in February 2010, has lowered the ceiling from 652 ft at 2.25 miles back to 338 ft only 1 mile back. That means when a pilot wants to land at YCD they need to be able to see the 1,400 ft of high intensity lead-in lights when they are at 338 ft and 1 mile away from the airport. “These new limits are comparable to any other reliable airport; it’s just unusual that we have had such a persistent fog bank across Coastal BC”, Hooper shares. “ I can’t even imagine how many weather cancelations there would have been this month without the ILS.”