Runway conditions at Cranbrook’s airport will be broadcast to pilots immediately starting this winter, thanks to federal government funding.

On Thursday, July 18, Kootenay Columbia MP David Wilks announced $33,715 in funding for Canadian Rockies International Airport to allow it to purchase tablet-type devices and a software program for a runway condition reporting system.

“The Canadian Rockies International Airport is a vital gateway for local residents, businesses, trade and tourism,” said MP Wilks. “This funding will enhance the safety of all those who use this airport, especially the communities and businesses in this region.”

Tristen Chernove, managing director of the airport, said the funding will mean improved safety and efficiency for runway reporting.

“It’s a tool that allows us to transmit our runway surface conditions during winter operations onto the internet immediately and directly from the vehicle where the observations are being taken,” he explained.

Currently, airport technicians will check runway conditions in winter to create visual reports and friction readings using a special device on the vehicle that measures friction at different intervals along the runway.

Once those figures have been collected, the techniciansdrives to the flight services building, walks upstairs and gives the piece of paper to flight services staff, who then must find time between communicating with pilots to input the data.

“This system allows the operator of the vehicle to immediately input the information digitally, which goes directly onto the internet and is accessible by pilots,” Chernove explained.

As well as being faster, the new system leaves fewer opportunities for human error because there is less handling.

“The Canadian Rockies International Airport is a vital economic catalyst for the Kootenay Region,” said Wayne Stetski, Mayor of Cranbrook. “The City of Cranbrook appreciates that the federal government continues to invest in airports through ACAP.”

The funding was made available through the government’s Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP). Through this program, the government has given Cranbrook’s airport more than $8 million for 13 projects.

“The positive for me is most of all about the continued support and successful relationship between the levels of government and the agreed-upon importance of the economic engine of the airport, the catalyst that we are,” said Chernove.

“While this particular grant is not a huge sum of money, it represents the federal government, which controls these regulations, being prepared to help us implement the regulations.”