October 24, 2019

Remote Weather Stations Not Being Maintained


A British Columbia floatplane operator is frustrated with the delays in getting out-of-order weather stations repaired so he can safely fly in his operational area. Joel Eilertsen, president of C.B.E. Construction Ltd (dba Cab Air) of Coal Harbour on northern Vancouver Island, wonders when repairs will get done.

His company, which operates mostly de Havilland Beavers on floats, relies on the wind speed and direction that the station should be reporting in order to confidently predict the weather conditions that his pilots are likely to encounter.

Most of Cab Air’s customers are loggers, fishermen and surveyors who need to get to remote sites in the region on a timely basis, rather than tourists who likely wouldn’t want to fly in inclement weather anyway.

“It’s very much a safety problem,” Eilertsen told CBC News recently. The weather station is located on Sartine Island, about 33 kilometres northwest of Vancouver Island.

“It tells us how much time we have to complete a trip and if we don’t have the necessary time maybe the pilots are going to get pressured into doing the trip and then maybe flying back in real bad weather,” he said.

Eilertsen contacted station operator Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) about the issue and was advised that since it would need to be serviced by helicopter, winter’s approach means it won’t be happening soon. The station data has been offline for five months.

When contacted by CBC News for a comment, a spokesperson for ECCC replied that “the station will be serviced on the next maintenance trip.” When pressed to provide a timeline, the reply was “the next maintenance trip is not yet scheduled.”

Eilertsen has also notified Transport Canada of the problem.

Over a year ago Eilertsen advised EEEC of other facilities that were offline, including weathercams that local commercial operators and pilots rely on as well. Those, he said, have since been repaired.

Photo by Cab Air