Want to build an airstrip?

Onus on landowner to ensure private airstrips are up to code

Published on July 31, 2009

SPRINGHILL - Following a botched landing at a personal airstrip in Springhill, Transport Canada says it is the responsibility of the owner to make sure the private airstrip, known in the industry as an aerodrome, is up to code.

Communications officer Steve Bone says Transport Canada does not approve or disapprove private aerodromes. The one in question in Springhill drew the ire of neighbours during its construction because of its close proximity to homes in a residential area but so long as the owner, Church Street resident Mark Capone, is following the rules of the federal Aeronautics Act the aerodrome is okay.

"There isn't [a governing body] for private aerodromes," Bone explained Thursday. "It's incumbent on the owner to comply with the Aeronautics Act."

With the responsibility ultimately on the landowner's shoulders, Bone says, anyone with enough space could build a private aerodrome or heliport in their backyard.

"That's my understanding," Bone said.

All aircraft are required to be registered with Transport Canada and comply with their rules and regulations. The aircraft in Wednesday's mishap, Bone says, had all the required registrations prior to the incident.

Incidents involving aircrafts move from Transport Canada's table to that of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, who decides what level of investigation is necessary. According to the safety board's website a reportable incident includes accidents where an aircraft sustains damage or failure that affects the structural strength of the aircraft.

Within the Aeronautics Act, there are provisions concerning aerodromes. In summary, Part III of the act states where low-flying in the vicinity of an aerodrome are likely to be hazardous to pedestrian or vehicular traffic, the operator of the aerodrome shall immediately post notices warning of the hazard on any public way (road, path or sidewalk) that is adjacent to the maneuvering area; or where such a public way is not owned or controlled by the operator, inform the authorities responsible for placing markings on the public way that there is a hazard.