Air space congested over Langley’s Glen Valley

  • Jan. 8, 2016 11:00 a.m.

By Larry Pynn

Special to the Langley Advance

A near mid-air collision involving aircraft from competing flight training schools is highlighting safety concerns on a designated aviation practice area in the Fraser Valley.

A Transport Canada aviation incident report for 2015 says the incident occurred April 29 over the Glen Valley training area near the Langley-Abbotsford border south of the Fraser River.

A Montair Aviation Ltd. Cessna C172 was “forced to perform an evasive manoeuvre to avoid a head-on collision” with a Canadian Flight Centre Bellanca 8KCAB, the report reads. Both are small single-engine aircraft.

“The Bellanca was performing aerobatic manoeuvres throughout the entire Glen Valley area as well as outside the practice area boundaries, without making proper position reports on the local area frequency,” the report adds.

Montair Aviation is based in Pitt Meadows, Canadian Flight Centre in Delta.

Peter Schlieck, owner of Canadian Flight Centre, said he could not immediately recall the event but noted that other such incidents go unreported every year in the congested training area. He complained that training space is given a lower priority over airspace for larger commercial traffic and it’s possible to see six to eight planes training on a good day at Glen Valley.

“It’s a heavy-use area,” he said. “Situations like that happen frequently throughout the year.”

Ian Kennedy, chief operating officer for Montair, agreed there are “probably hundreds” of incidents that might go unreported annually in the area. He said that Glen Valley is used by flight schools from Boundary Bay, Pitt Meadows, Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack.

“In aviation there are always things you can do to make it safer, but that is a very long discussion,” he noted. “I consider it safe, otherwise we wouldn’t send our aircraft there.”

Pilots flying through or within the Glen Valley area should be monitoring a frequency specifically assigned to the area to lessen risks, said Bill Yearwood, regional manager of the federal Transportation Safety Board in Richmond.

Radio communications are a valuable way for pilots to augment sight for monitoring other traffic. “We know the human eye is not the best on its own for identifying aircraft on a collision course,” he said. Smaller planes are also typically not equipped with collision-avoidance technology found on larger commercial planes.

“With lots of training aircraft converging in a designated area, the risk is increased just because the probability is elevated,” Yearwood said.

In 2003, a student pilot flying a Piper PA-28-140 aircraft with Langley Flying School went on a solo training flight in the Glen Valley practice area. After about 30 minutes, and completing three 360-degree turns, the plane entered a spiral dive and crashed to the ground. The pilot died.

In 2011, two of four light planes flying in formation from Langley to Chilliwack collided in mid-air near Dewdney along the northern end of the Glen Valley practice area. One Cessna 150G plane crashed into a shallow slough and both occupants died. The pilot of the other plane, a Cessna 150L, regained control and landed safely in a farm field.

– Larry Pynn is a Vancouver Sun reporter

 

Just Posted

Furor over Japanese flag in Langley classroom

Secondary school students petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Everett pulls ahead in Western Conference standings over Vancouver Giants

Langley-based hockey G-Men, who lost 6-5 to Everett Saturday, now prepares to take on Victoria.

Langley Thunder lacrosse teams pocket gold and silver in Richmond

Top finishes for U15 and U13-1 teams at Richmond Romp over the Remembrance Day weekend

Langley Rams downed by Saskatoon Hilltops at Canadian Bowl

Four-time Canadian Junior Football League champions built up an insurmountable lead

VIDEO: Crash on 88 Avenue in Langley

At least one car suffered extensive damage

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Death toll rises to 76 in California fire with winds ahead

Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire began

Trump says report on Khashoggi death expected in a few days

Jamal Khashoggi was a columnist for The Washington Post who was slain Oct. 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul

CUPW requests mediator as deadline for Canada Post offer expires without deal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in Saturday night with a last-minute plea to the two sides

Trudeau says he won’t negotiate in public on future of LGBTQ rights in USMCA

Legislators urged Trump not to sign the agreement unless the language was removed.

Price makes 36 saves as Habs edge Canucks 3-2

Late goal lifts Montreal past Vancouver

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

Most Read