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Winter Olympics Airspace Restrictions Make Pilots Slalom Through Gates

Snow will not be the only thing covering Canada during the upcoming winter Olympics; restricted airspace will also blanket southwestern British Columbia and portions of the U.S. Pacific northwest for nearly two months during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. From January 29 to March 24, pilots must follow extensive procedures to continue to carry out general aviation flights in and around Vancouver according to the AIP CANADA supplement:

For safety and security reasons Class F restricted airspace in the form of two (2) conjoined Olympic Rings will be established within a 30 nautical mile (NM) radius of the Vancouver International Airport (CYVR) and Whistler Athlete’s Village, respectively.

The adjoining rings will cover 120 miles of airspace from the Orcas Islands south of the international border to the northwest end of Carpenter Lake. Class F restricted airspace will form the outer portions of the airspace with three Olympic Control Areas (OCAs) defining the inner portions. Two of these OCAs are centered over Vancouver and Whistler Athlete’s Village with the third acting as a connecting corridor. Sprinkled throughout the OCAs are several small Olympic Restricted Zones (ORZs) that protect various venues.

All aircraft, whether IFR or VFR, will have to file a flight plan and have a transponder code assigned. Certain airports will require reservations, and Canadian and US air traffic facilities are requiring up to two hours notice of flights into Olympic Airspace. All flights inside the airspace will be required to be conducted point to point. Depending on the airspace, restrictions on flight activity will increase in severity from the banning of aerobatics and simulated emergency landing practice in the outer areas to restrictions on just about all flight activity that is random in nature in OCAs and ORZs.

South of the international border, a Temporary Flight Restriction will be in force with similar flight activity restrictions. Arriving US aircraft that do not have an approved screening program and want to fly into designated Olympic airports must land in Spokane, Washington; Reno, Nevada; or Boise, Idaho, for screening.

Visit Nav Canada’s Winter Olmypic’s page for information on how to aviate near Vancouver during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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