Seaplane Operations

The Nanaimo Port Authority, local seaplane operators and members of the public developed recommendations regarding seaplane operations in the Harbour.

The Port operates two water aerodromes. Area “A” is in the inner harbour adjacent to the W.E. Mills Landing and Area “B” is in Departure Bay adjacent to the BC Ferry Departure Bay Terminal.

Excerpt from Nanaimo Port Authority Practices and Procedures – May 7-2009

  • 4.8.1 There are two designated water aerodromes in the harbour, “Area A” and “Area B” located as follows:
    1. “Area A” is located within Nanaimo Inner Harbour as defined on Canadian Hydrographic Services Chart 3447; and
    2. “Area B” is located in Departure Bay with boundaries as defined on the aforesaid Chart 3447 with the southern extremity in a line with Shaft Point and the northern extremity in a line with Tyne Point.
  • 4.8.2 Unless prior written approval has been obtained from the Authority, no seaplane shall takeoff, land or step taxi in any area of the harbour except “Area A” or “Area B”.
  • 4.8.3 A seaplane on the water in the harbour shall comply with the applicable provisions of the Collision Regulations, as amended.

For boating safety, aircraft operated strobe lights have been installed. One is on the Central Breakwater next to the W.E. Mills Landing and covers Area “A”, the other is set on top of a piling at the north entrance to Newcastle Island Channel.

Each strobe light operates independently and when flashing indicates that an aircraft is preparing for take-off or landing in the applicable water aerodrome.

Boaters refer to: Caution Boaters Safety Bulletins for Water Aerodromes 

Seaplane Operating Procedures and Map

These procedures have been developed in conjunction with the local community and seaplane operators. Following these procedures is crucial to reducing unnecessary noise and ensuring the safe and harmonious operations of seaplanes in this harbour, wind and weather conditions permitting. Any questions or comments regarding these should be forwarded to The Nanaimo Port Authority at (250) 753-4146.

General Procedures
  1. Aircraft operators within Nanaimo Harbour limits (including Departure Bay) should refrain from taking off and landing between 2200 PST and 0700 PST (Daylight Saving Time 2100 - 0600 PST). Prior approval should be obtained from the Harbour Commission to take off or land during this period.
  2. No aircraft should take off nor land within 150m (490ft.) of any shoreline, wharf, or fixed object, except as noted below, or step taxi within 150m (490ft) of the shore.
  3. No aircraft should overfly Newcastle Island Passage below 100 m (330 ft) except in transition for take-off and landing.
  4. No flying training should be conducted within the Harbour.
  5. No aircraft should overfly Pimbury Point tank farm.
  6. No aircraft should overfly the City of Nanaimo, or the noise sensitive areas of Gabriola Island, Protection Island, or Departure Bay below 600 m (1,970 ft).
  7. Aircraft should remain clear of B.C. Ferries manoeuvring in Departure Bay and Nanaimo Harbour.

Area 'A' (Inner Harbour) Operations
All take-offs and landings in the Inner Harbour should be carried out within Area 'A' consistent with wind, weather and boat traffic. Pilots should enter and exit the harbour via the routes shown and remain a minimum of 3/4 of a nautical mile offshore of Gabriola Island.

Area 'B' (Departure Bay) Operations
The majority of noise complaints in the Nanaimo region come from this area; following the outlined procedures is therefore crucial to harmonious seaplane operations in the region. All take-offs and landings in Departure Bay should be carried out within Area 'B' consistent with wind, weather, and boat traffic. Pilots should enter and exit the harbour via the routes shown. In addition the following procedures apply.
  1. On landing, touchdowns should be at least I 00 m (330 ft) west of an imaginary line joining Pimbury and Shaft Points.
  2. When circumstances permit, all aircraft should favour the Newcastle Island side of Departure Bay during arrivals and departures.
  3. No circuits are to be conducted within Departure Bay.
  4. Extreme caution should be taken when taking off or landing after the arrival or departure of a B.C. Ferry, due to swells and turbulence.