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Airfield Accessibility & Safety Initiative

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The Airfield Accessibility & Safety Initiative is complete. Category III Instrument Landing Systems are now operational on the primary runway at St. John’s International Airport. This technology is the best available in Canada and allows aircraft to land and take-off in conditions of very low visibility related to fog; a weather challenge that has had an impact on our Airport’s operations and our region’s reputation for decades.

A CAT III landing at St. John’s International Airport requires 600 feet of forward visibility.

There are three primary components involved in CAT III capability:

  1. Instrument Landing System – Installed on both ends of primary runway last year. Owned and operated by NAVCanada.
  2. Airport Visual Aids – Includes approach lighting systems, signage and in pavement lighting systems. Owned and operated by the Airport Authority.
  3. Aircraft & Flight Crew Capability – Each aircraft must have CAT III technology and flight crew must be trained to fly CAT III approach. Aircraft owned and operated by individual air carriers.

In promoting the Cat III ILS, we’ve communicated that the usability rate will increase from 93.9% to 99%. Airport usability is a technical term used to define the percentage of time the airport is usable when factoring in wind direction, forward visibility and ceilings. This percentage references the percentage of time the airport is usable given the layout of the airfield. It is not a reflection of specific flight operations. Prior to having CAT III ILS, our Airport’s usability rate was 93.9% and approximately 100,000 passengers were affected by low visibility conditions on an annual basis.  With the new CAT III ILS, the usability rate has increased to 99% and 70,000 annual passengers are expected to arrive and depart, regardless of fog.

80% of flights to and from St. John’s International are serviced by two major airlines – Air Canada and WestJet. Both carriers are supportive of the project and have ensured they would deploy CAT III capable fleet during foggy conditions.

As the province’s premier transportation gateway, the improvements of the airfield provide a more reliable transportation system for our region, and reverses our reputation of being an inaccessible location.

Check out the videos of the construction process.

Example of a Cat III Landing