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Low Visibility: What it means for passengers

Fog covers YVR's runway. Text reads low visibility operations (LVOP). Ground visibility 600 ft to 1200 ft.

The seasons are changing and fall is upon us here at YVR, bringing with it increased rain, occasional fog and lowered ceilings for clouds. Of course, this means it is time to break out boots, jackets and scarves. It also means that, if you are travelling during these weather conditions, it is even more important to check flight times and status before coming to the airport.

Why? This post shares some important information on low visibility operations at YVR and what this means for passengers.

Weather is one of the most significant factors for flight operations. Conditions like heavy rain, fog, wind and other inclement weather that causes low visibility requires our teams to be flexible and responsive.

In the simplest terms, visibility refers to how well you can see in front of you. In aviation, visibility is measured as how well a pilot can see and recognize the runway. This is categorized as reduced visibility operations (RVOP) or low visibility operations (LVOP), where visibility ranges between 600 to 2,600 feet. To help put this into perspective, this range is equivalent to between three and 13 hockey rinks, end-to-end.

When visibility drops below 600 feet, or when lightning is detected in the immediate vicinity of the airport, a ground stop may be activated, meaning no aircraft can arrive or depart. This is a measure to ensure the safety of travellers, employees and our community. 

During LVOP and RVOP conditions, YVR remains fully operational for arriving and departing aircraft. We have Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) in place to allow aircraft to land at YVR.

However, in RVOP and LVOP situations we work closely with NAV Canada. Air traffic controllers adjust the rate of arrivals and departures to ensure the safety of passengers, employees, and our community. Just like drivers allow more space between them and the vehicle ahead in inclement weather conditions, so must pilots with aircraft. As a result, fewer planes land and takeoff per hour on our runways in reduced and low visibility conditions. This may cause delays or other impacts to flight schedules.

At YVR, we recommend that you always check the status of your flight with your airline or on before arriving at the airport, give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport safely and make it to your gate on time, and prepare for delays if fall weather persists.

Safe travels this fall!

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