Every few months or so, YVR welcomes a special visitor.
The plane approaches YVR just like any other, slowly descending from the sky as it nears the airfield. It is a CRJ200, a common aircraft, but it isn't adorned with airline logos or distinguishing features you would expect for a bird about to touch down. The landing gear should emerge at any time, but instead the aircraft banks and veers away from the runway. Then the plane circles back, and repeats this process several times.
This is not some kind of emergency or malfunction, but a regularly scheduled testing of the Instrument Landing System (ILS) at YVR, which provides critical information to planes that are on approach to assist with landing. Regulated by Transport Canada and performed by NAV CANADA, the ILS testing is an important process to ensure passenger safety and provides an interesting glimpse into the world of aviation safety.
Operators: NAV CANADA operates the aircraft used for ILS testing, but a number of commercial airlines also use the CRJ 200 for passenger transport, including Air Canada Jazz, SkyWest, Lufthansa CityLine and Wisconsin Air.
First Flight: November 13, 1995
Cockpit Crew: Two
Cruise Speed: 871 km/h (470 knots)
Height: 6.22 m (20 ft 5 in)
Length: 26.77 m (87 ft 10 in)
Wingspan: 21.21 m (69 ft 7 in)
Passenger Capacity: 50 - although the ILS aircraft does not carry any passengers, just lots of specialized equipment
Maximum Take-Off Weight: 24,041 kg (53,000 lb.)
Maximum Range (loaded): 3,713 km (2,004 nm)
Engine: General Electric CF34 – 3B1
Noise Certification: Meets ICAO Chapter 4 noise standards
Did You Know? The CRJ200 model aircraft has a rich history. The aircraft is essentially identical to its predecessor, the CRJ100, except for a pair of more efficient engines. The aircraft is based on designs bought by Canadair off of aviation pioneer Bill Lear (he came up with the Lear Jet) for its Challenger series of business aircraft. The “C” in the name is generally dropped in reference to the aircraft type, as Canadair eventually became a part of Bombardier. More than 1,000 100/200s were manufactured. Although they are no longer in production, hundreds remain in service.
YVR Connection: Our most recent visit by the ILS test aircraft was last weekend when they tested all five of our systems. The aircraft made several passes, flying an irregular pattern and at varying heights to properly calibrate the instruments and test them at different altitudes and angles. You can also check out our noise webpage for more info.