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Villeneuve Airport runway extension expected to finish by November

By: Viola Pruss

  |  Posted: Saturday, Oct 12, 2013 06:00 am

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  • SKY HIGH – Delta Helicopter pilot and base manager Evan Cole took media on an bird's eye view tour Thursday.
    SKY HIGH – Delta Helicopter pilot and base manager Evan Cole took media on an bird's eye view tour Thursday.
    APRIL BARTLETT/St. Albert Gazette
  • WHAT A VIEW – Villeneuve Airport is being expanded to accommodate more general aviation. New hangar construction is underway, new businesses are moving in and one of the two runways is being extended.
    WHAT A VIEW – Villeneuve Airport is being expanded to accommodate more general aviation. New hangar construction is underway, new businesses are moving in and one of the two runways is being extended.

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Completion of Villeneuve Airport’s extended runway and new instrument landing system is expected to finish by November, 2013 and will be certified by Transport Canada in February 2014, said Steve Maybee, director of airport operations at Edmonton Airports at a site tour on Thursday.

The new 5,000 foot runway – 1,500 feet longer than the other runway at the airport – will be able to accommodate larger airplanes and jets carrying between eight and 15 passengers. The extended runway will also allow planes to take off with the weight of a full tank of fuel.

Until now, Maybee said pilots have to land at the international airport to fill up their tanks if they want to travel to the oilsands or other destinations in northern Alberta.

“This airport is a natural stopping point to and from going up north,” he said.

The new instrument landing system will allow planes to land in bad weather conditions and at night, providing radio signals and high intensity lighting and increasing safe landings and takeoffs, he added.

The airport is also replacing City Centre Airport as the alternate medevac landing site. City Centre was primarily used for medevac, corporate and charter flights and will close at the end of November.

Plans for the future

The extension is part of a mayor development plan to update the role of the airport over a 20-year period. Other improvements to the airport infrastructure over that time period include the creation of a stormwater management system and sanitary services.

Located nine kilometres from St. Albert, the airport houses 15 hangars and 13 businesses, as well as 15 tie-down areas where aircraft can be stored outdoors. Construction of another six hangars is already underway and another 15 to 20 lots may be added in 2014, pending demand.

Small airports have struggled financially in recent years as they had to move away from city centres and to the countryside, said Mark Hyderman, one of the owners and operators at Villeneuve Airport.

Hyderman, who owns the aircraft fuel business Villeneuve Aviation Centre, said the airport will benefit from the upgrades though he regrets that they came at the expense of the City Centre Airport. He hopes Villeneuve Airport will now be more financially self-sustainable.

“It is a piece of infrastructure like a sidewalk and how do you pay for a sidewalk,” he said. “Now we are hoping ... that the airport can get some of the upgraded services that it really needs and not be a burden to anybody.”

Last year, Hyderman and another local business owner, Perry McPherson of Great Circle Investments, started construction on two new hangars at the airport. Together they will provide space for another 25 smaller-sized airplanes.

McPherson said they expect some of the businesses and aircraft from City Centre Airport to move to Villeneuve. But others will find a home at other airports or move to the Edmonton or Calgary international airports, he said.

The airport is now also home to a fixed-based operator base, added Myron Kheen, vice-president of communications and development for Edmonton Airports. That means the base can be used as a stop-over for pilots going from Alaska to the southern U.S., he said.

“It’s basically like a hotel for airplanes,” he said. “It’s a place to stop, you can get gas, get services and store your aircraft … it’s really something we haven’t had here before.”

The extended runway and instrument landing system was financed with $14 million from the provincial government, Edmonton Airports and Nav Canada.


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