Discussing the Whitecourt Airport Master Plan and recent updates to it

— By Serena Lapointe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press

In 2014, Woodlands County undertook an Airport Master Plan. In 2020, the plan was updated. It focused on a socioeconomic analysis of the airport facility, airport development opportunities, stormwater management, fixed vs. rotary-wing conflicts, ownership options, airport approach lands, certification review, and marketing plans. Upon completion in 2020, the updated file was presented to the Airport Advisory Committee, which requested to have a few other items reviewed, resulting in a supplement to the plan.

“When the Airport Master Plan review (was undertaken), a number of stakeholders were interviewed, including tenants at the airport, local governments, and users of the airport. They put all the information together,” said Andre Bachand, Director of Infrastructure. “The airport contributes to 173 full-time equivalent jobs and a GDP of about 13.5 million.”

On the topic of marketing, several ideas were tossed around. “We have undertaken, through Administration, a couple of items such as the 2023 COPA and things like the Reno (Formular 1 Air Racing). We are advertising in some aviation magazines and are trying to get the word out. In 2022, the airport should have its own website linked to the Woodlands County website. We’ll also reach out to our partners to get a link on their websites,” said Bachand.

“For some on the committee prior, there was transportation at the local airport. In 2019 the operator lost the contract for air ambulance, which subsidized their passenger flights. They reduced their number of flights, stopped flying, and then COVID hit, and the airport numbers went down totally. There was some interest just before COVID of another company taking over but since COVID that had not produced anything,” explained Bachand.

During his presentation, Bachand mentioned the topic of a commission for the airport structure. Committee member Rob Magee asked if changing the airport’s operation would change the funding model.

Bachand said, “we are looking at equal partnerships at the airport. That would change the funding, and that would change the full ownership of CYZU (airport code).” Magee then asked, “that’s a fairly significant change, right?” To which Bachand said, “it is. More to come.”

Committee Chair Councillor Alan Deane said that back when the Airport Master Plan first came out, one of the top priorities was lands to be developed. “People wanted to be able to purchase lots to build hangars etc., and potentially have business opportunities out of there. The other one was to have some sort of card lock fuel system. It’s 2021, and that’s still in the works, is it?”

Bachand said yes, “that’s still in the works. A couple of issues are holding it back, but hopefully, we are getting to the point where we can go out for proposals on getting fuel back at the airport. It would be essentially a credit card operated self-serve.” Deane asked if Bachand felt the card lock fuel system would be something the committee would get to look at in 2022.

“I would say definitely sometime in 2022. I should also point out since you mentioned ownership of the lands at the airport, one of the things identified in the Master Plan update was not selling land within the airport. Selling land, you lose control of your airport. That’s one of the recommendations,” explained Bachand.

Deane asked if it was standard practice, at similarly-sized airports, to lease rather than sell lots. “The bulk of airports lease land. There are some that do have private property, but there’s not a lot of them. I know there is one airport in southern Alberta that the municipality sold it to an interested party, and they are looking at selling lots off, but generally, they are leased.”

Member Curtis Brownlee, a pilot who also has a hangar at the airport, said it was necessary to identify what Administration was looking for to decide if they should lease or sell. “If you’re looking for private, you’re not going to get a lot of guys that are going to be able to afford to lease and stand a hangar as opposed to buy and stand a hangar. If you’re looking purely to go industrial, lease is the way to go. If you don’t put a fair mix in there when one suffers, so does the other,” he explained.

Deane asked Administration if stakeholders were engaged in going from sale to lease. “I don’t know if that was one of the questions they asked. That was just something the consultant observed,” replied Bachand. “Currently, there are some lots available for lease. There are private vacant lots. I know one lot just sold in a private deal.” For the County to take control of any private lots, they would need to purchase them from the current owners. “I think there are six or seven private lots. I believe there’s a possibility of up to eight lots that can be leased. The last subdivision built by the County, we did not specify or survey out the lots. It was left the way it is so that if we have somebody come in and want a three-acre lot, or a one-acre lot, we can do that (for lease).”

Brownlee provided context on the pricing. “When they sold those lots, they were $30,000 and the one that just sold, because you can’t buy anymore land out there, sold for about $180,000. Nobody wants to lease land. How do you go to a bank as a private individual and say, I want to stand a hangar? The bank will laugh at you because you don’t own the land.”

Magee added that some of the privately owned properties are hangarless. “So, we sold them, and nobody built anything except for two people. Maybe a caveat should be put in there that you have to build within two years.” Deane said that the conversation on lease versus sale would be discussed at greater length at a future meeting, as would the lease rates.

(Photo: Fireweedfour)

CIFIB activates third UAT ground station

Text provided by CIFIB

The Canadian In-Flight Information Broadcasting Association (CIFIB) has activated its third ground station, at Parry Sound, ON (CNK4), joining Stratford, ON (CYSA.) and Burlington, ON (CZBA).

These stations transmit free weather information via 978 MHz to aircraft equipped with ADS-B In.

Upcoming sites include Oshawa, ON (CYOO), Ottawa, ON (CYOW), and Hanover, ON (CYHS), and the first station outside Ontario at High River, AB (CEN4). Traffic information from NemoScout (flight schools) and FLARM/OGN (gliders) is coming soon.

Read more about CIFIB’s status and plans for stations across Canada at http://www.cifib.ca.

(Photo: CIFIB)

Rotax adds 24 volt option to 915IS/C

BRP-Rotax GmbH & Co in late December announced its 915iS engine is now available in a 24V option, explaining the innovation can provide pilots a range of opportunities to upgrade their cockpits and flying experience – without added engine weight.

The company explains the new 915iS C24 / 915iSc C24 (non-certified and certified version) enables 24V aircraft board systems, supports digital displays and glass cockpit and adds reserves for auxiliary instruments, tablets and gadgets.

“The new 24-Volt power supply delivers up to 800W for pilots to get creative; from cockpit equipment to digital conveniences,” said Peter Oelsinger, General Manager of BRP-Rotax.

BRP-Rotax points to the following features of the Rotax 915iS C24 / 915 ISc C24: No added weight; new extra light 24V converter (max. 150g); enables 24V aircraft board systems; supports digital displays and glass cockpit; adds reserves for auxiliary instruments, tablets and gadgets; supplies power buses with 24 voltages; 24V power supply delivering up to 800W; and ample power for most installations.

GAMA leadership team for 2022

(Photo: Maria Della Posta, President of Pratt & Whitney Canada)

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association introduced its Executive Committee leadership team for 2022, including the appointment of Michael Amalfitano, President and CEO at Embraer Executive Jets, as Chair of the Board. Previously, Amalfitano served as Vice Chair and chair of GAMA’s Communication Committee.

Eric Hinson, CEO at SimCom International, will serve as Vice Chair of GAMA. He previously served as chair of the Safety and Accident Investigation Committee.

Nicolas Chabbert, Senior Vice President of Daher’s Aircraft Division and CEO of Daher Aircraft and Kodiak Aircraft, will serve as Immediate Past Chair.

Daniel Baker, Founder of FlightAware and Strategic Advisor to Collins Aerospace, will serve as chair of the Safety and Accident Investigation Committee.

JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby Aviation, and Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX, will continue to serve as co-chairs of the Electric Propulsion and Innovation Committee (EPIC).

Henry Brooks, President of Power & Controls at Collins Aerospace, will serve as chair of the Security Issues Committee.

David Coleal, CEO of Incora, will extend his term as chair of the Airworthiness and Maintenance Policy Committee.

Maria Della Posta, President of Pratt & Whitney Canada, will continue to serve as chair of the Communications Committee.

Tony Lefebvre, CEO of Signature Aviation, will extend his term as chair of the Environment Committee.

Jeff Trang, Vice President of Engineering and Flight Operations at Airbus Helicopters, will continue to serve as chair of the Technical Policy Committee.

David Van Den Langenbergh, President of Aviation Services at Luxaviation Group, will continue to serve as chair the European Leaders Steering Committee.

Tyson Weihs, Co-Founder and CEO of ForeFlight, will again serve as chair of the Flight Operations Policy Committee.

Chuck Wiplinger, President and CEO of Wipaire, will extend his term as chair of the Policy and Legal Issues Committee.

Archer completes first hover flight of Maker aircraft

Archer Aviation Inc. of Palo Alto, CA, completed the first hover of its eVTOL demonstrator aircraft called Maker. The December 16 hover flight marked the completion of the company’s first full and complete systems test and validation of every hardware and software component working as intended to move the aircraft into the air.

“The past six months have been an incredible journey, from unveiling Maker to watching it take its first flight,” said Brett Adcock, Archer co-founder and co-CEO, on Dec. 16. “It’s been humbling to build a leading eVTOL company and educate the public on clean transportation alternatives. Today is a milestone for both Archer and the future of travel.”

In November, Archer’s flight test team, consisting of experts in flight test, battery, propulsion, flight controls, software and avionics, moved from the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto to a new flight test facility to prepare for this important milestone.

Archer explains the successful hover flight saw Maker accelerating off the ground and hovering in-place before returning to the ground safely.

“Everything we’ve accomplished this year, every milestone hit and partnership struck, was all with one goal in mind: developing both an aircraft and a UAM ecosystem that could scale and change the face of intra-city travel,” said Adam Goldstein, Archer co-founder and co-CEO. “With our first hover flight now completed, we’re one major step closer to that goal and have proven that Archer can work at a fast pace without sacrificing safety or quality. Our team stands ready to continue that pace as we work toward launching an aerial ridesharing service in late 2024.”

In addition to expanding Maker’s test flights, Archer also plans to unveil its piloted, four-seat production-intent aircraft in 2023.