Calgary

Popular plane-spotting areas near Calgary airport closed to public access

Public access is being closed to a couple of locations popular with local plane spotters due to what the Calgary Airport Authority describes as safety concerns.

Airport authority says illegal dumping prompted the closure but says spotters weren't to blame

A WestJet aircraft takes off from Calgary's international airport in this file photo. (Dave Rae/CBC)

Public access is being closed to a couple of locations popular with local plane spotters due to what the Calgary Airport Authority describes as safety concerns.

The authority said it had to make the difficult decision to close the unofficial viewing areas along the airport's east runway last week.

The berm area was popular among many members of the local aircraft-spotting community, who used it for viewing and photography.

In a message sent to the Facebook group YYC Calgary Airport Spotters, the airport authority said the spotting area had seen illegal dumping, which increased the risk of foreign objects and debris on runways and taxiways.

The message said the spotters were not the cause of debris and noted some even helped to clean it up.

But airport authority spokesperson Reid Fiest said the decision to close the area to all public access came down to safety.

"We've had many incidents where that garbage has blown onto the airfield and ultimately that puts aircraft and the people on them at risk," he said.

Spotters understand

The spotting community photographs, monitors and shares information about aircraft and the industry.

The Facebook group has more than 6,500 members. Many are regulars at viewing spots around the airport.

Group founder Ken Meintzer said the community is disappointed to lose a prime area, but added they support the safety decision.

"Anything they need us to do, we're compliant with," he said. "It may not make us the happiest, but we also know they have a job to do, which is to run an airport safely and securely."

The group hopes another spot can eventually be established along that runway.

The airport authority said it's considering additional spotting options.

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