Uncontrolled airport procedures are in place for our safety


In the past two years, there have been a large number of CADORS detailing our poor communications and uncontrolled airport procedures at uncontrolled airports. There have been a few close calls.

A Cessna 185 departed Buffalo Narrows without an advisory from Regina FSS via the RAAS RCO. First contact with the pilot was when he called Regina FSS after getting airborne. There was no broadcast of intentions prior to departure.

A Volmer VJ22 at Nanaimo entered taxiway A and runway 34 without authorization. The aircraft did a high-speed taxi run, returned to the threshold, departed and did one circuit and landed.

A BN2A 26 arrived at High Level without calling FSS or broadcasting intentions on the mandatory frequency (MF). The pilot indicated to FSS he was on 126.7 not on the MF.

A Piper PA-28 arrived at Dauphin without contacting Brandon FSS on the Dauphin mandatory frequency. The pilot was on 123.2 instead of the MF.

A King Air 200 landed on Runway 13 at Fort MacKay/Albian (CAL4) and while the aircraft was backtracking on the runway to the apron, a Beech 1900 appeared on short final to Runway 13. Weather at the time was excellent VFR and the pilots of the B1900 saw the King Air and commenced an overshoot.

The pilots of the B1900 admitted that they had mistakenly selected 123.2 as the ATF for CAL4 instead of the correct frequency of 123.3.

The Cessna 206 pilot VFR to Williams Lake (CYWL), made his initial call to CYWL FSS on left base turning short final for Runway 29. The pilot claimed to have been talking to Pacific Radio until this point.

A Cessna 172 reported final on the MF on approach to Runway 06 at Tulita. The pilot of a Piper Navajo on the ground at Tulita acknowledged the traffic on final then took off from Runway 24 directly toward the approaching Cessna. The Navajo was then observed making a hard left turn over the town at approximately 200 feet AGL.

An RV7 VFR to Nanaimo was inbound for runway 34. In the traffic advisory, he was informed that runway 34 was the active runway and that there were four C152s in the circuit. The RV7 joined the circuit left base for runway 34 contrary to the instructions contained in the CFS. One of the C152s had to disrupt his traffic pattern to avoid overtaking the RV7 as a result.

Airport staff at Gods River reported that a Metro landed on Runway 09 when another company Metro was in position for take-off on the opposite end of the 3,500-foot runway, Runway 27. Although Gods River does not have an airport mandatory radio frequency, it does have an airport traffic frequency (ATF) and it was reported that there were no radio broadcasts during this event.

The pilot of a Cessna 208 reported 15 NM north of Fort McMurray inbound for Runway 07. FSS provided the pilot with an advisory with the active runway being Runway 25 and traffic as three other aircraft landing or departing on Runway 25. A B737 departed runway 25, another B737 landed runway 25. The C 208 landed runway 07 and then a C-172 landed runway 25.

The Beech 1900D crew made all of the appropriate calls on approach to runway 14 at Sarnia (Chris Hadfield) Airport (CYZR). An inbound Cessna 172RG pilot reported approximately five (5) miles west of the airport and was joining the circuit via overhead mid-left downwind for runway 14. The Beech 1900 crew advised the Cessna pilot that they were IFR and ahead of the Cessna. Contact was maintained between the two aircraft and position updates were provided by the Beech 1900 crew. As the Beech 1900 was on final, the Cessna 172RG cut in front and landed. The Beech 1900 crew aborted the landing and performed a go-around.

The pilot of a Maule MX7 was holding short of Runway 26 at Brandon for an aircraft to depart. After that aircraft departed, the pilot proceeded to taxi onto Runway 26 with another aircraft turning 1/2 mile final. The pilot of the aircraft turning final conducted a missed approach.

The following procedures must be followed at airports within an MF Area and should be followed at airports with an ATF.

Manoeuvring Area

Report intentions prior to entering the manoeuvring area, and maintain a listening watch on the MF or ATF while operating the aircraft on the manoeuvring area. 


Report departure intentions on the MF or ATF before moving onto the runway. If a delay is expected, broadcast intentions and the expected length of the delay. Then rebroadcast departure intentions prior to entering the runway. Ascertain by radio on the MF or ATF, and by visual observation, that no other aircraft or vehicle is likely to come into conflict with the aircraft during take-off. Report departing from the circuit, and monitor the MF or ATF until well clear of the MF or ATF Area (5-10 nm).


Report position, altitude, arrival procedure intentions and estimated time of landing at least 5 minutes (where possible) prior to entering the area. Maintain a listening watch on the MF or ATF while in the area. Report joining the circuit pattern giving position in the pattern. Report on downwind leg, report on final approach, and report clear of the active runway after landing.

Continuous Circuits

Report joining the downwind leg. Report established on final approach stating intentions, and report clear of the active runway after landing.

Local Flying

Maintain a listening watch on the MF or AFT when operating in the area.

En route Reports When Flying Through An MF Area

report position, altitude and intentions prior to entering the area, maintain a listening watch on the MF or ATF while in the area and report clear of the area.

If there is an FSS or CAR specialist on the airport, we must get an advisory before manoeuvring and we must advise if we are going to enter a taxiway or runway. Even if no one is expected to be listening, it is wise to make these calls so that other pilots become aware of our intentions.

Some of the pilots in the incidents listed above were on the wrong frequency, either because they did not know which frequency was correct or because of finger problems. We must pay more attention to the CFS and know what frequency we are to select and then make sure we have selected it correctly.

An FSS may indicate the preferred or active runway. A pilot may choose another runway if it does not conflict with other traffic. The first aircraft to call in designates the runway in use. All other aircraft must then use that runway unless there is no possible conflict. The Navajo, RV7, Metro and C 208 pilots all disregarded safe procedures and caused serious traffic conflicts.

As well as listening out, we have to look out. The C 172 RG pilot likely lost site of the Beech 1900, which is why he cut it off. The Maule pilot was concerned about the departing aircraft and forgot to look to see if an aircraft was on final before he took the runway.

Keep radio calls concise. Radio traffic can become heavy at times and unnecessary calls or wordy reports cause others frustration and may cause a conflict if others cannot get their calls in.

Uncontrolled airport procedures are in place for our safety. Radio calls and a good lookout are part of those procedures.

Dale Nielsen is an ex-Armed Forces pilot and aerial photography pilot. He lives in Abbotsford, B.C., and currently flies medevacs from Victoria in a Lear 25. Nielsen is also the author of seven flight training manuals published by Canuck West Holdings.

Got an aviation safety story to tell? Dale Nielsen would like to hear from pilots who have educational aviation experiences to relate. Excerpts from these stories will be used in upcoming safety articles. Dale can be contacted via e-mail: dale@flighttrainingmanuals.com