Fogged in without an ILS

[Update at bottom.]

Halifax airport is fogged in, all ops are shut down, and hundreds of flights are cancelled, stranding people all over the place. After reading the CBC story, I decided to pull up the notams for CYHZ. They include the following:

050422 CYHZ HALIFAX INTL
  CYHZ ILS GP 24 U/S
0506270900 TIL 0507172100

050423 CYHZ HALIFAX INTL
  CYHZ LLZ 06 U/S
0506270900 TIL 0507172100

050424 CYHZ HALIFAX INTL
  CYHZ RWY 15/33 CLOSED
0506270900 TIL 0507172100

050425 CYHZ HALIFAX INTL
  CYHZ ILS 15 U/S
0506270900 TIL 0507172100

050430 CYHZ HALIFAX INTL
  CYHZ DME CH28 U/S
TIL 0507172100

Halifax has two runway surfaces. 15/33 is closed for construction until July 17, but then, for reasons unknown (cranes?), the ILS 24 is also offline, as is the LOC(BC) 06. The Halifax International Airport Authority said that “it was simply bad timing that the fog rolled in while the system was down.” I had to laugh when I read that — fog in Halifax is about as much of a surprise as, say, drizzle in Vancouver or Seattle. There had to be a lot of wishful thinking involved if people thought that a busy international airport in one of Canada’s foggiest cities (it doesn’t have a CAT II approach for just for kicks) could somehow function for three weeks with only GPS overlay and NDB approaches.

Update

In a posting written about the same time as mine, Michael Oxner (a Moncton Centre controller) mentions — as I should have noticed with a more careful reading of the NOTAMs — that one localizer is also still active at CYHZ. He also points out, though, that Halifax’s Cat II ILS approach (one that lets specially-equipped planes with specially-trained crews land with a ceiling below 200 feet) is the only one in the Maritimes, so this is a problem that extends well beyond Halifax itself.

With the LOC-only approach to CYHZ rwy 24, the MDA is still 310 feet with a requirement for a full mile visibility (that probably counts as a sunny day in Halifax), and that’s assuming that winds allow a straight-in approach to 24; otherwise, the NDB rwy 06 approach (or GPS overlay) will require almost a 500 foot ceiling and 1.5 miles visibility. With two more weeks to go, it’s a safe bet that we’re going to see more news stories about problems in Halifax.

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About David Megginson

Scholar, tech guy, Canuck, open-source/data/information zealot, urban pedestrian, language geek, tea drinker, pater familias, red tory, amateur musician, private pilot.
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