This week I had the opportunity (with a few other local bloggers) to tour the Edmonton City Centre Airport (ECCA). Traci Bednard, VP of Communications at Edmonton Airports, took the time to guide us around the facility, providing information relevant to the ongoing debate and answering as many of our questions as she could. Here’s what we saw.
ECCA, built in 1929, encompasses approximately 144 acres of land just north of the City Centre. It has two runways (12/30 and 16/34) placed in an intersecting “V” configuration. The airport supports general aviation activities. Approximately 41% of all flights originate and terminate at ECCA without landing at another airport.
Edmonton Airports has invested over $13 million in ECCA since scheduled service was consolidated at EIA in 1996. A further $35 million of capital investment will be required over the next 10 years. Though ECCA generates a small amount of operating income annually, it cannot fully cover its capital requirements.
Edmonton’s Zoning Bylaw 12800 describes the Airport Protection Overlay (APO), which restricts the height of structures within the overlay area to 815.34 m above sea level. The maximum height of a building varies depending on the base elevation. At 146 m tall, Manulife Place is very close to the maximum, as is the soon-to-be-completed EPCOR Tower at a height of 149 m.
Roughly 27% of all aircraft movements at ECCA are northern flights. In 2008, there were 133,000 landed seats from the north to ECCA, versus 778,000 from the north to EIA. The top 25 users at ECCA make up 75% of all aircraft movements, and of these users, 18 also commonly use EIA.
Roughly 4000 air ambulance flights occur at ECCA each year (about 5% of total movements). Less than 10% of those (approximately 350) are time sensitive. Air ambulance, while important, is just one leg of a patient’s overall journey. Patients must be stabilized on the scene and taken to an airport via ground ambulance, loaded on a fixed wing air ambulance, flown to Edmonton, and then loaded onto another ground ambulance to be taken to a hospital.
STARS Air Ambulance is one of the more well-known users of ECCA. Its helicopter fleet transports time sensitive/trauma patients directly to hospital, most often to the University of Alberta hospital. STARS, Alberta Health Services, Alberta Health & Wellness, and Edmonton Airports have discussed the concept of an integrated air ambulance facility at EIA, which could create efficiencies and ultimately improve patient care.
With the phased closure of ECCA set to begin next week, Edmonton Airports has been working with tenants (such as the Government of Alberta) to help prepare for the closure of runway 16/34. That includes ensuring that all tenants have access to runway 12/30, and exploring options for moving to either EIA or Villeneuve.
The City of Edmonton has launched an international competition seeking firms interested in redeveloping the ECCA lands. A total of 33 responses to the request for potential bidders were received. The City is working to short list the group to 5 by August 6. That group will have until the end of the year to develop their proposals.
Thanks to Traci and Edmonton Airports for the tour. You can see the rest of my photos here. You can read fellow blogger John Winslow’s post here. Stay tuned to #ecca on Twitter for updates on this ongoing issue. You get more information about ECCA from Edmonton Airports.