Castlebury Meadows versus the Boeing 727s
October 3, 2013 5 Comments
At about 2:30 a.m. most mornings, Kelowna Flightcraft 271, a Boeing 727 freighter jet, crosses into Manitoba at 30,000 feet roughly 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of West Hawk Lake. At this point, about one hour and 40 minutes after having taken off from Hamilton Airport in Ontario, the pilots reduce power and begin their descent toward Winnipeg.
Some 15 minutes later, having slowed down to 250 knots (290 m.p.h. or 470 km/h) and descended to just 3,000 feet above ground level, Flight 271 will cross the Floodway near the North Transcona industrial park. It will then carefully avoid flying over residential areas, except for unavoidable parts of North Kildonan and Riverbend, gradually descending as it flies roughly parallel to the Perimeter Highway.
Just before reaching Brookside Boulevard, now down to 140 knots and about 1,600 feet above ground, the Boeing 727 makes a sweeping turn to the south. The pilots line up with Runway 18, now just a few miles ahead of them, turn on their landing lights, extend the flaps further out, and drop the landing gear.
Still gingerly avoiding the residential areas not far off to the captain’s left-hand side, Flight 271 sails over Inkster Boulevard at about 700 feet, the railway tracks that separate another industrial park from the airport at 300 feet, and then touches down on Runway 18, the long north-to-south runway at Winnipeg Airport. The time is now about 2:50 a.m.
This ability to land at the airport in the middle of the night while avoiding flying over residential areas at low altitude is a major competitive advantage in Winnipeg’s efforts to maintain a 24-7-365 cargo operation at the airport. Flightcraft 271 is one of about 15 flights, give or take a couple, that typically land at Winnipeg Airport between midnight and 6 a.m. A similar number depart during the night.
Most of the other overnight arrivals are other Flightcraft and Cargojet Boeing 727s from around Canada. Other arrivals from the eastern provinces follow a similar flight path to Flightcraft 271, approaching the airport from the north rather than the more heavily populated south as much as possible. (The airport’s official policy on overnight operations is to direct aircraft along the route going past the Castlebury Meadows site as their first preference.)
A decision made by Winnipeg city councillors, however, could bring a proposed residential neighbourhood too close to the low-flying jetliners. As the Winnipeg Free Press reported in its Oct. 3 edition:
Mayor Sam Katz and his executive committee overrode recommendations from the planning department and gave the go-ahead Wednesday for a massive new residential subdivision in the city’s northwest corner.
During a three-hour-plus hearing, the senior committee listened to the recommendations and arguments from its planning staff and counter-positions from Terracon Development Ltd., which is planning to build a 593-unit subdivision on a 30-hectare site at the southwest corner of Jefferson Avenue and King Edward Street, to be known as Castlebury Meadows.
The proposed site is about one kilometre, or six-tenths of a mile, east of the direct-line path to Runway 18. Aircraft turning or lining up with the runway could pass closer to or even directly over the subdivision site.
Based on several nights of data on Flight 271′s descent and approach patterns, the Boeing 727s would be about 800 to 1,000 feet above ground as they pass the western edges of the development.
If you’re not familiar with Boeing 727s, there’s a good reason for that. Once a popular passenger jetliner, Boeing stopped producing the three-engined 727 in 1984, offering its customers quieter and more fuel-efficient stretched Boeing 737s and Boeing 757s instead. Most airlines had completely retired their 727s by the year 2000, often selling them to cargo operators. Though still used in North America, the remaining 727s face operational restrictions in Europe due to noise levels, and are prohibited from taking off and landing at some Australian airports.
Cargojet Boeing 727 freighter landing at Gander, Newfoundland, 2013
Updated Oct. 4 — Link to official airport overnight operations policy