October 4, 2019

Vancouver Airspace Review Project Update


As reported last May 23 in eFlight, Nav Canada announced that their Vancouver Airspace Modernization Project was about to begin. Stakeholder meetings are now taking place, as per the timeline put forth months ago.

The project is an effort to update the congested airspace surrounding both Vancouver (CYVR) and Victoria (CYYJ) International airports. Other airports that fall within the boundaries of the airspace under review are Pitt Meadows (CYPK), Boundary Bay (CZBB), Langley (CYNJ), Abbotsford International (CYXX), Vancouver Harbour (CYHC), Victoria Inner Harbour  (CYWH), Nanaimo (CYCD) and Bellingham International in the U.S. state of Washington (KBLI).

Attending one of the first of such meetings held recently were two representatives of COPA: British Columbia and Yukon director David Black and COPA member Paul Harris, a high-time Class 1 flight instructor (20,000+ hours).

During the meeting Nav Canada representatives pointed out that over the last five years, air traffic over B.C.’s Lower Mainland has grown by 16 percent each year, composed of an 18 percent increase in IFR traffic and a 10 percent increase in VFR traffic. Also presented were hazard analyses using recorded radar tracks over that period, which is a metric Nav Canada uses to assess near-collisions and close encounters between aircraft pairs.

Among the issues brought up was the floor of Class C airspace over Georgia Strait, which affects VFR traffic travelling between the Lower Mainland and airports on the southern part of Vancouver Island, such as Victoria International (CYYJ) and Harbour (CYWH), Duncan (CAM3) and Nanaimo (CYCD). Vancouver’s Terminal airspace is often closed to VFR traffic, leading to aircraft undertaking over-water flights at unsafe altitudes.

Director Black reports that the Nav Canada representatives appeared to be sincere in their efforts to solicit user and stakeholder input.

“They truly welcomed the input being provided by the attendees and seemed to thoughtfully consider the many things they learned from the group,” said Black.  “I think our participation in the process will actually be able to make a positive difference to the outcome.”

Over the next few months Nav Canada will create working groups to address specific concerns that will then be presented to a general meeting to be held in February or March of next year.