UPDATE: In a release sent Wednesday morning, 19 Wing Public Affairs stated the trees affecting travel at YQQ have been trimmed.
“The trees intruding into the Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS), the cause of interruptions and cancellations at the Comox Valley Airport yesterday have been trimmed, with the goal of remaining compliant with Transport Canada safety regulations and minimizing interruptions to scheduled flights during inclement weather resulting in reduced visibility.”
Some flights to and from the Comox Valley Airport have been rerouted or cancelled due to some trees impacting the safety margins, but the CEO of the airport said the issue should be resolved quickly.
Fred Bigelow, CEO of the Comox Valley Airport explained the issue came to the attention of the airdrome operator – in this case 19 Wing Comox – during periodic surveys.
The trees are intruding into the Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS), which provides safety margins for aircraft on approach to, or departing Comox. When obstacles exceed the margin, aircraft must use higher limits to ensure safety.
Some of these limits have caused a significant impact on some commercial aircraft, dependent upon which type of navigation equipment is used in the plane, he noted.
On Tuesday, both WestJet and Air Canada flights from Vancouver were cancelled, and a Pacific Coastal flight to YQQ was diverted to the Campbell River Airport.
Bigelow said there isn’t much the airport can do until the limits are once again brought down, which he suspects should be sorted out in less than a week.
“The base has a good plan and I’m confident they are looking at the most problematic trees and are working well with the landowners. I’m very pleased with the attention it’s getting from the base and we should see the bulk of the restrictions lifted shortly.”
A spokesperson from 19 Wing Public Affairs said they are actively engaged to resolve the issue as quickly as possible to remain compliant with Transport Canada regulations, and understand the potential for an impact on commercial flights.
Military operations, particularly Search and Rescue will continue, with risk being managed as required. Training flights will be subject to the same restrictions as commercial carriers.