This article was originally published in the September-October 2017 issue of Aviation News Journal
As any vehicle licence plate from British Columbia will tell you, Canada’s westernmost province is indeed a beautiful region. Chilliwack Airport is located in the scenic Fraser Valley, which is currently experiencing considerable economic growth. The airport has always been well-liked as a flying destination, but will it be able to adequately serve and promote the economic and commercial growth of the City of Chilliwack?
Home to more than twenty aviation businesses, Chilliwack Airport is clearly an attractive airport to companies in the aviation industry. Its proximity to Vancouver and the US border are important factors, but so is comparatively affordable house prices in the area, which allow companies to attract employees to Chilliwack. As an ‘uncontrolled airport’, Chilliwack Airport is essentially always open and aircraft operators have no need to worry about expensive landing fees. Companies based at the airport enjoy highly competitive rates, high quality hangars and facilities, easy accessibility by highway, as well as comparatively mild winters. These companies include fixed-wing and helicopter maintenance organizations, as well as specialists in avionics, aircraft interiors and structures. Business owners considering relocating to Chilliwack could benefit from assistance from the Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation (cepco), the economic development agency for Chilliwack. cepco is responsible for attracting and facilitating economic growth in the community and can be particularly helpful to anyone thinking about moving a business to Chilliwack.
Chilliwack Airport is owned by the City of Chilliwack and managed by Magnum Management Inc, the head lease holder of the airport. With Garry Atkins as airport manager, Magnum Management and the City of Chilliwack have an excellent working relationship. As a result, in recent years, the airport has made great strides in being a well-organized municipal airport. An improved terminal building, upgraded runway lighting system and added pilot facilities are only some of the examples of progress at the airport, in addition to the fact that it has been brought to compliance with all safety and regulatory requirements of Transport Canada.
Next year, Chilliwack Airport’s runway will be extended by 1 000 ft to a length of 5 000 ft. An additional 500 ft will then be added on each end of the extended runway, to serve as stopways, in case of aborted take-offs or landings. The extended runway will enable executive jets to land at the airport, meeting the needs of numerous large corporations based in Chilliwack. Incorporating various new airport safety measures, a new FBO (Fixed Base Operator) and the construction of a new row of hangars are also in the pipeline.
Meanwhile, Chilliwack Aviation Park (CAP) was developed at the west end of the airport to meet the needs of aircraft owners and aviation related businesses. It is not surprising that the variety of T-hangars and cube hangars have proven to be popular with recreational pilots and business owners alike, considering all the advantages of being based at Chilliwack Airport, as well as the fact that the fully-insulated hangars are high quality and well-built. Construction of the third phase of buildings, consisting of six cube hangars and eight aircraft parking lots has already begun. As with existing hangars in the aviation park, these new hangars will have insulated walls and ceilings, individual gas and hydro meters, rough plumbing, base heating and lighting, with access to onsite washrooms. The entire aviation park is secure, with remote controlled gate entry and onsite vehicle parking areas. Keith Hodsall, a former Royal Air Force pilot with extensive experience in airport management, is serving as Chilliwack Aviation Park’s administrator. He is working with Chilliwack Airport Manager Garry Atkins to ensure that the airport will not only keep up with the growth of the City of Chilliwack, but actually continue to promote and empower economical growth in the area.