08 September 2007

Which runway? Where’s the windsock?

Like me, you were probably taught to fly over an uncontrolled aerodrome above circuit height to get a look at the runways, look for traffic and to see which runway the windsock indicates is most aligned with the wind. To do this, I was taught to cross the airport five hundred feet above the circuit altitude. That puts me fifteen hundred (1500) feet above the runways and the windsock. I should be able to see the windsock from here, eh? Actually no! Canadian regulations require a wind direction indicator that is visible from an aircraft at one thousand feet (1000) above the windsock, i.e., normal circuit height.

In short, Canadian Aviation Regulation 301.06 calls for a wind direction indicator to be a conspicuous colour, cone shaped and visible from an aircraft flying at 1000 feet above the indicator. I guess it's just luck that all these years we have been able to see the windsock from 1500 feet.

I ask, should Transport Canada amend the regulations and standards to fit reality?


From the CARs

301.06 (1) Except where the direction of the wind at an aerodrome can be determined by radio or other means such as smoke movement in the air or wind lines on water, the operator of the aerodrome shall install and maintain at the aerodrome a wind direction indicator that is

(a) of a conspicuous colour or colours;

(b) in the shape of a truncated cone;

(c) visible from an aircraft flying at an altitude of 300 m (1,000 feet) above the wind direction indicator; and

(d) illuminated when the aerodrome is used at night.

(2) When an aerodrome is closed permanently, the operator of the aerodrome shall immediately remove all of the wind direction indicators installed at the aerodrome.

From Canada’s AIM

(iii) If it is necessary for an aircraft to cross the airport before joining the circuit, it is recommended that the crossover be accomplished at least 500 ft above the circuit altitude.

From Aerodrome Standards and Recommended Practices, TP 312

The colour or colours should be so selected as to make the wind direction indicator clearly visible and understandable from a height of at least 300 m, having regard to background. Where practicable, a single colour, preferably white or orange, should be used.

01 September 2007

NOTAMS affecting Rockcliffe Airport...

I find it strange that NOTAM 070191 for this weekend closes Rockcliffe Airport's runway but does not mention any reasons. From other sources I understand that the reason is the Skyhawks Parachute jump team will be jumping at the Balloon Festival about 2 NM west of Rockcliffe. So why close the runway?

Equally strange, Montreal FIR NOTAMS (i.e.,070738) advise pilots of the balloon festival 2NM west from Rockcliffe but it does not mention parachute jumpers.

NOTAM 070193 for Gatineau Airport advises that there will be parajumps a the Casino.

Finally, NOTAM 070192 advises pilots of fireworks approximately 2NM WNW of Rockcliffe tomorrow. Is this associated with th Balloon Festival or is there another event slightly North of the Balloon thing?

I guess pilots are expected to be able to associate the Rockcliffe's runway closures, Balloon Festivals, Casino parajumps and fireworks.

Furthermore, why prevent aircraft from landing and taking off at Rockcliffe, but not prevent them from flying in the airspace above the runway? What is happening on the runway? Clearly most parachute operations do not require closing runways. Most of the time all that is required is notifying pilots of the time and location of parachute activities.

Can't the powers that be coordinate these NOTAMS to make it clear what is actually happening and where?

Michael Shaw
Capitan COPA Flight 8

So what follows...

It seems to me that a healthy exchange of ideas and opinions on issues related to flying in the Canada's National Capital area, and beyond, would benefit all. Hence I started this blog where we can have a civil exchange of ideas on topics of mutual interest. Some of the topics that come to mind are:

  • Area events
  • NavCanada's Aeronautical Studies affecting our air space
  • Airports
  • Local Land Use issues impacting on aviation
  • Local Events
  • Transport Canada
  • Publications
Michael Shaw