Conflict Keeps Flights Grounded In B.C. Floods

An apparent bun fight between the management of B.C.’s Langley Airport and Nav Canada employees who run the tower has had the bizarre effect of closing three of four runways for departures when the tower is operating, generally from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PST. For a brief period, all departures were NOTAMed as unavailable when the tower was open. A howl of protest from based pilots who wanted to use aircraft to rescue people stranded by flooding in B.C. prompted the opening of Runway 1 for departures by fixed wing aircraft being used for flood-related flights. A new NOTAM posted Friday closes three runways for departures when the tower is open until at least Monday. Throughout, unspecified “safety concerns” were cited by the airport authority for the closures.

The issue apparently arose from a dispute over where pre-takeoff runups were to be performed. The tower stopped allowing run-ups near a blast fence that had been used for decades. Pilots started using the helicopter pad for run-ups and airport management determined that was a safety hazard, especially with the increased rotary wing traffic prompted by the floods. “Due to changes implemented by Nav Canada (operators of the air traffic control tower) which adversely affected apron safety, fixed-wing airport departures were restricted,” said a statement from the Township of Langley, which operates the airport. Transport Canada is now involved and talks are being held to resolve the dispute.