Heli-skiiers seek easier landings at airport

Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) has approached the Village of Valemount for their support on an application to enhance the existing flight paths to the Valemount Airport.
In a letter to Valemount Council, CMH says the existing flight approaches make it difficult or impossible to land in many types of weather and customers must then find another way to reach the Valemount heli-ski lodge just south of town.
The current procedure provides approach limits of over 5700 ft above the airport, CMH says. This is using existing GPS design criteria and a standard 200 ft per nautical mile missed approach climb gradient.
The Valemount approach procedure was designed in the mid-1990’s when GPS was in its infancy and the design criteria was overly conservative, according to CMH. New, more modern design criteria can lower approach limits for flights to the Valemount Airport. The amended and enhanced flight path information will allow landings in a greater range of weather than is currently possible.

CMH has worked with Sunwest Aviation and flight engineers from JetPro to design the amendments. The proposed approach has been built and it is ready for approval from Nav-Canada.

All costs for the approval and implementation would be covered by CMH, and they have agreed to pay the annual and every third year maintenance costs, according to a report to council by acting CAO Anne Yanciw. CMH already pays for part of the necessary snow removal at the airport.
While the CMH designs do not target an extension of the runway, an airport planning study commissioned by Council in 2006 suggested an increase in tourism and air traffic may lead to larger planes wanting to land in Valemount. An informal survey of airport users indicated they expected that demand could fill aircraft such as a Boeing 737 – but a more economical approach for Valemount would be to service this demand with more smaller commuter aircraft. The report details some of the necessary upgrades for bigger and more frequent aircraft including runway lighting, supplementary navigation aids, extending the runway to 6,000 feet, taxiway enhancements and other improvements which were estimated to be more than $10 million in total.