Castlebury Meadows versus the Boeing 727s

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.

Yellow line depicts straight-line Runway 18 approach/Runway 36 departure path

Yellow line depicts straight-line Runway 18 approach/Runway 36 departure path

Cargojet Boeing 727 freighter landing at Gander, Newfoundland, 2013

Updated Oct. 4 — Link to official airport overnight operations policy

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About theviewfromseven
A lone wolf and a bit of a contrarian who sometimes has something to share.

5 Responses to Castlebury Meadows versus the Boeing 727s

  1. I wonder what it was that Terracon Development Ltd. said that trumped the advice offered by the planning department. Any minutes available to the public? I would have thought in this enlightened age elected officials would be listening to their planning departments a little more. But then this is Sam Katz we are talking about.

    Having grown up in PMQ’s on a dozen airbases once within ⩰250m of the runway approach/departure route (Trenton) where military aircraft were so low we were forbidden to fly kites I can safely say that most civilians are not going to like dealing with flights of such proximity during the early hours.

  2. theviewfromseven says:

    I live about 350 metres from the Runway 31 (southeast to northwest) approach, and figure the planes are about 1,000 feet or so above ground as they go by. Normally YWG avoids routing planes in from the south after midnight, and the modern jets are usually no more bothersome than the buses that go down my street or the trains that pass nearby on the CN main line.

    But on rare occasions, strong tailwinds or crosswinds force the airport to bring the freighters in from the southeast at night. When that happens, the roar of the 727s can be enough to wake a person up.

  3. I wish that Flight Tracker site worked better for those without an account. From my balcony I just visually observed a single engine prop job dive out of the way of an incoming Lufthansa jet that immediately went full power and scooted out of there at exactly 1:44 pm Riga time.

    Now I’ll never know!

  4. theviewfromseven says:

    Keep an eye on the Aviation Herald. It might show up there:

    http://www.avherald.com/

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