Victoria International Airport complies with current federal legislation on runway safety buffer zones and is waiting for new safety regulations later this year, expected to force airports to extend their runways.
Transport Canada has plans to introduce new regulations this year that would make it mandatory for larger airports in Canada to have 150 metres of extra space at the ends of their runways. This extra space is known as Runway End Safety Areas (RESAs) and are designed to prevent aircraft from overshooting the prescribed landing area.
The move comes more than a decade after the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) found that the RESA at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport was too short, after an Air France flight slid off one end of the runway and caught fire in August, 2005. The TSB, in its review of the incident, recommended all major airports in Canada extend their RESAs by 300 metres.
Transport Canada, as outlined in a CBC report earlier this month, is only now consulting with airports and working on new legislation that would make 150-metre RESAs mandatory, while only recommending an additional 150 metres. The regulations, according to the report, would only apply to runways longer than 1,200 metres.
The TSB has pushed for the full 300-metre buffers, to have Canadian airports comply with international standards.
The runways at Victoria International Airport would fall under those proposed regulations from Transport Canada, according to Ken Gallant, a Victoria Airport Authority (VAA) spokesperson. He said it’s expected that the legislation would apply to airports that see commercial passenger traffic of at least 325,000 a year — which Victoria exceeds. YYJ saw more than 1.934 million passengers through its gates in 2017 and expects to surpass two million in 2018.
He said all runways at YYJ comply with current regulations that require a 60 metre RESA — some paved, some not. Runway 1432 had a 150 metre RESA added to it last year during paving overlay work.
Victoria airport’s main runway, 09-27, does not yet have that 150 metre buffer zone.
“We are waiting to see what the legislation will be,” Gallant said. “And from there, we will design and build, based on that. We have known a long time that this was coming.”
The VAA has had runway extensions in its master plan since 2012. In an update to that plan in 2016, Gallant said they estimated the cost of extending the RESAs on all of the airport’s runways would cost around $700,000 — a figure that will have changed by now.