Night Flight Operations

Dear Mr Farnworth,

I am writing to you having read today’s press coverage of the limitations on North Shore Rescue’s night flight operations; specifically the prohibition on helicopter hoist rescues.

I’m not a resident of British Columbia, but feel very close to this issue because my late son went missing in the backcountry in 2013 and I worked very closely with North Shore Rescue to try to find him.

Back then, night-flying was not an option outside the military and that meant that, in winter, more than half of each day was not open to aerial searching. Even more than that, most hikers set off in daylight and by the time they run into difficulties it is likely to be getting dark or already fully dark. The first few hours of any search are critical and the frustration of having to wait until daylight is often going to make the difference between the rescue of an injured person and the recovery of a body.

I believe that the relevant safety audits have been completed to protect the operators and, if that is correct, then any acceleration of Emergency Management BC’s licensing process that you can encourage will save lives. It’s as simple as that.

Martin Billings