George Miller is the new Pitt Meadows Regional Airport Manager. (Black Press)

George Miller is the new Pitt Meadows Regional Airport Manager. (Black Press)

Low flying planes bring complaints to Pitt Meadows airport

Air traffic too close to residences

Neighbours of the Pitt Meadows airport complaining about planes buzzing low over their houses got a sympathetic ear from the airport manager and city council.

Pitt Meadows council recently dealt with a low flying incident that happened at YPK last summer. Council reviewed correspondence to former airport manager Elvio Pecchia, which included a public complaint.

“I am reporting a very irresponsible maneuver by a pilot in a yellow bi-plane that flew over our homes at approximately 7:05 p.m. this evening [July 16] far below the altitude [100 feet or lower] that is considered safe, and at a speed of approximately 228 mph as it flew over our homes,” wrote the complainant.

“This pilot needs to be grounded for what he has just done. It was unbelievable. It completely frightened the seniors living here, the farm animals, our neighbourhood dogs and all of us.”

The committee also noted two other incidents: on Aug. 18 and Sept. 4, low-level passes were made by jet aircraft that caused concern because they were low, fast and noisy.

Pitt Meadows resident and former member of council Ken Joyner said the air traffic used to come and go from the airport via the west, flying over the Port Coquitlam industrial area. He said that Pitt Meadows used to approach the issue from a position that if air traffic is constantly flying over residential areas, one day an aircraft will come down in the residential area. He said that approach has changed in recent years.

“Aircraft are flying low over the residential area, and helicopters are flying everywhere,” he said. “They were never supposed to come that low over the housing area.”

He said air traffic is also coming into the airport late at night.

“I am concerned for the quality of life for the people of Pitt Meadows,” Joyner said.

George Miller, acting airport manager, said the pilot’s actions on July 16 were inappropriate, and the pilot had been spoken to.

He called it “a very justified complaint and the immediate follow-up and fallout was handled inadequately.”

He was not the airport manager at the time.

“One saving grace of this incident of poor airmanship is that it made our deficiencies clear,” wrote Miller. “Most have been addressed satisfactorily and the remainder will be fixed. At present, there is no preferred published procedure for runway departures to avoid noise sensitive areas and no depiction of these areas in the Canadian Flight Supplement.”

The supplement is an industry publication for pilots covering all airports in Canada that gives them procedures to follow.

“A respectful, pro-active and accurate response to noise and low-flying complaints is most important to building and

maintaining a high regard for the airport within our community,” wrote Miller.

Mayor John Becker noted the complaint was a good test of the airport advisory committee, which brings issues to council to review.

He said the flight path over the Pitt Meadows airport will be better defined, so pilots know the area that was subject of the complaint is not to be part of the regular flight path.