I can assure Mr. Erickson that Ms. Ramsdin’s reports of low-flying aircraft are accurate, and the volume of flight training conducted over our homes is obnoxious.
We in Saltair and Chemainus are subject to a high volume of forced landing approach and stall recovery training on a daily basis, often several times per day with aircraft tag-teaming the airspace. This type of training is inherently dangerous as it simulates crash scenarios. The forced landing approaches involve aircraft cutting power at low altitudes and gliding as far as they deem “safe” before recovering power again, often accompanied by back-firing engines. Imagine the consequences if the engines didn’t power up!
I first contacted Jean Crowder and Transport Canada in 2007 regarding these activities. I had documented several incidents of aircraft passing extremely low overhead with engines cut, and felt like my family was physically and immediately at risk. Requests to the flying schools were ignored. I was told by Transport Canada that Saltair is not defined as a built-up area and is not subject to regulations requiring aircraft to not fly within 1,000 feet vertically and 2,000 feet horizontally. When asked for the official definition of built-up area I was told, “It is very complicated as there is no single definition of a built-up area.”
“The best course of action is to call the flying schools, ask for the Chief Flight Instructor and request that they avoid flight training near your home.”
I have phoned these flight schools numerous times over the years and amicably requested that they reduce the volume of flight training in our area. I always receive the same answer: they will try to avoid over-using the area. Then the flight training resumes as usual.
This type of aviation over residential areas, schools businesses and parks is a hazard and a nuisance. It is unethical to endanger lives other than a willing pilot and instructor in order to conduct flight training, yet Transport Canada allows these dangerous activities to continue unabated over our families and homes.
Why is it acceptable for Victoria and Nanaimo pilots to fly all the way to Saltair and Chemainus to conduct their dangerous activities over our families and properties, schools and parks? The flying schools are externalizing the costs of their profit-making ventures for Chemainus and Saltair residents to bear. I was told by the flying schools that they designate our neighbourhood as an official training area. They said they even have their own specific radio frequency for training in the area.
Consulting Transport Canada’s official Vancouver VTA charts, Saltair is not defined as a flight training area. There are two Class F training air spaces set aside for flight training in this part of the Island. These are, namely: CYA 113(A)(T)(H) and CYA 118 (A)(T)(H). I am especially curious why Nanaimo and Victoria flight schools insist on training here when there are two designated training areas as per Transport Canada?
We are told by Transport Canada to document these activities and record airplane registration numbers and altitudes. This is next to impossible given the new Transport Canada regulations that no longer require aircraft to clearly mark registration numbers on the bottoms of their wings. As for determining specific altitudes of aircraft, that is an impossible request of a citizen.