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Skies will be the limit once Chilliwack Airport gets new automated weather system

Council approved purchase of new weather observing system for $169, 244
Looking south from the Chilliwack Airport, which is getting a new automated weather system. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

The Chilliwack Airport is getting an automated weather observing system (AWOS) that will allow planes to fly in and out of Chilliwack regardless of visibility issues.

Chilliwack council approved the purchase of a Mesotech AWOS system from Approach Navigation Systems in the amount of $169,244 at last Tuesday’s council meeting.

Without one of these automated systems, landings and takeoffs in Chilliwack are on a strictly visual basis.

Coun. Chris Kloot said he was happy to see this come before council, and the fact that gas tax revenues will offset the cost of the project is a “bonus” for Chilliwack.

“We know after last November’s weather event how critical the Chilliwack airport became,” Kloot said, referring to when the highway was closed after flooding.

“Ensuring they have the proper tools in place to not only enhance safety but also to enhance growth is a prudent move on our behalf,” Kloot added during the council meeting.

Once installed, the airport will be able to operate in any kind of weather – regardless of visibility issues.

Coun. Jeff Shields noted the entire budget for the project was a line item for $260,000 in the budget. He asked if staff anticipated a lot of installation costs.

The installation will require “a foundation and there is electrical work,” for the tower, according to the response from Ryan Mulligan, director of recreation and culture. Some directional drilling is also forthcoming so the total installation costs are not yet known but staff wanted to ensure the money in the budget would cover everything related to the AWOS.

Kloot asked if they were anticipating it would be in place by the end of 2022, and was told that AWOS parts are “60 to 90 days out,” and the purchase order would sent by the end of last week.

Mayor Ken Popove noted that the work by airport officials went unrecognized to some degree, in terms of what they managed to offer in terms of flights during the catastrophic flooding last fall.

“They could have done more if this system had been in place,” Popove said “It will be a great addition to our infrastructure.”

Once the automated system is installed, landings and takeoff will proceed regardless of visibility, “keeping the airport open during any type of weather event,” according to the staff report to council. “The absence of such a system became apparent the the November atmospheric rain event as the airport had to limit operating hours.”

The AWOS system can be customized to the needs of each airport. The array of sensors can include any or all of the following: ultrasonic wind speed/direction, temperature, dew point, relative humidity, altimeter and visibility, as well as weather, cloud height, sky condition, runway surface and more

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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering city hall, Indigenous, business, and climate change stories.
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