Approval needed for Pitt airport growth

Still waiting to hear if it will get a WAAS approach

With WAAS on board the aircraft

With WAAS on board the aircraft

Getting approval for pilots to fly into Pitt Meadows in all kinds of weather is key to stimulate growth at the city’s airport.

The airport is keeping its fingers crossed Nav Canada will list CYPK  with a Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) approach by Dec. 15.

Airport manager Glenn Ralph said the WAAS approach has been flight tested to show that it works and has been submitted to Nav Canada for approval.

With WAAS on board the aircraft, pilots are authorized to fly under instrument flight rules without reliance on ground-based navigation aids.

Not having the approach has stunted growth at the airport.

“It would pave the way for scheduled service. It would pave the way for passenger air crafts,” said Ralph.

WAAS would also allow the airport to attract more aerospace business, including aircraft parts and repair companies.

“If you are shipping things out and have customers flying in, you’ve got to be able to do it in all kinds of whether,” added Ralph. “WAAS is a key component to growing business.”

A study recently released by the Pitt Meadows economic development corporation found that the airport’s strengths and opportunities appear to clearly outweigh its weaknesses and threats.

Arguably, the greatest weakness of the airport is its lack of critical mass in commercial aviation developments on-site.

But the study found, the airport is “well-positioned for attracting aerospace opportunities”, with its surplus of industrial lands, Pitt Meadow’s new road connections, its attractiveness as a community and its base infrastructure.

Ralph said the study couldn’t be delivered at a better time.

The Pitt Meadows Regional Airport Society is just beginning to update its master plan.

The non-profit society took over the airport in 1997 from the federal government.

The society is currently run by a board of directors appointed by Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows municipal councils.

“Now we are trying to identify what business we would attract. The board will find the report very useful,” said Ralph.

The airport will mostly keep its “no landing fee” policy, a strategy Ralph believes make Pitt Meadows attractive to business. Boundary Bay Airport and Abbotsford currently charge fees.

“I rather have the businesses and the jobs than the landing fee,” Ralph said.

“Landing fees would be like putting a toll on a street in town that your business is located on.”

The airport is trying to attract more businesses like Maxcraft Avionics, which provides support services to helicopter logging operations and all types of aircraft including private, commercial, business, charter, corporate, airline, police, military and air ambulance.

Maxcraft moved to Pitt Meadows in May 2009 so it could expand.

“Pitt Meadows is now much better connected to other parts of the Lower Mainland due to the new roads and bridges,” said Maxcraft president and general manager Daryl MacIntosh.

“With increasing population growth in the valley, we believe we can grow our business at Pitt Meadows airport. Additionally we liked the fact that our employees can enjoy reduced commute times due to the proximity to affordable housing.”


Changes needed:

The study suggests the airport make several changes before it can begin to attract new business, including:

• getting board members or staff to participate in organizations such as the B.C. Aviation Council and the Aerospace Industry Association of B.C.;

• connecting with education institutes such as BCIT and other colleges in B.C. which have training facilities at airports for specific purposes;

• changing its logo – the current one, which prominently displays a biplane, does not reflect an organization seeking high tech business;

• developing an information package to make a case for investing in Pitt Meadows airport.