West Coast pilots rely on weather cams and remote weather stations when planning their VFR flights, and a number of these assets, which commercial and private pilots have come to depend on, are currently unavailable due to equipment failures.
The only weather cam between Alert Bay and Bella Bella, on Addenbroke Island, has been offline for three months. Another weather cam, on Chatham point near Campbell River, is also offline. Both weather cams are operated by Nav Canada.
Air Cab, an air taxi operator based in Coal Harbour at the north end of Vancouver Island, flies loggers, fishermen and tourists up and down the B.C. coast and occasionally passengers needing emergency medical attention. Owner/operator Joel Eilersten told CBC News, “It’s definitely a safety issue. In the case of an emergency we have to know that we can go ahead and complete the whole job for people that may be hurt or otherwise.”
An automated weather station operated by Environment Canada, located on Herbert Island near Port Hardy, is, according to Eilersten, “…the only one that gives very accurate wind information.” However, it too is offline, with a site visit to repair it scheduled for October.
Nav Canada spokesman Jonathan Bagg told CBC News that, while regretting the inconvenience, pilots are encouraged to call flight services in Kamloops.
The Kamloops FIC is located 250 nm inland from the coastal areas served by the remote facilities.