Aviation In Canada

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Multiple Approaches

Not all airports in Canada can have more than one IFR aircraft on approach at a time. In fact, most can't. The major airports which account for more arrivals than the others put together have better equipment, more facilities, and tighter control on things to allow simultaneous approaches (not thinking of simultaneous landings here, just more than one aircraft cleared for an instrument approach procedure at the same time).

Most satellite airports are not served by terminal control units, and the majority of them don't even have air traffic control towers in place. The may have flight service stations or CARS (Community Aerodrome Radio Stations). As such, ATC lacks the equipment and facilities to allow more than one IFR aircraft on an instrument approach procedure at the same time. In a classic circumstance, more than one aircraft is inbound to such a field, and nearly tied. That means #1 gets there without delay, and #2 must wait until #1 has landed or canceled IFR. It doesn't matter which one ATC makes #1, whoever becomes #2 ends up with a massive speed restriction, a wide vector, or a holding clearance, all amounting to a significant delay. It gets worse with another rule resulting from an incident a few years back if the weather is IMC at destination. ATC must wait not just until the #1 aicraft lands, but until he has cleared all runways, too.

Such is a miserable case at CYSJ, Saint John, NB. A jet landing R23 after an ILS must backtrack whatever amount of the 7,000 foot runway to get clear since they don't have a parallel taxiway. The amount of time it takes for a jet to backtrack, especially if the runway is slippery and he rolled out far, means that #2 could end up with a very significant delay. In fact, if ATC vectors #2, he may require something on the order of 15-20NM between airplanes to prevent #2 from entering a hold! Talk about inefficient.

PS- I'm heading up to Ottawa again beginning Monday morning. My computer access will be limited, but I'll try to keep posting while I'm away. No promises, though.