Transport Canada clips Air Nunavut’s wings

Baffin-based airline doesn’t meet maintenance standards


Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT ¬ Transport Canada grounded all Air Nunavut flights this week after safety inspectors found flaws in the company’s maintenance program.

Inspectors with Transport Canada’s civil aviation, maintenance and manufacturing branch detected the problems during an on-site safety audit conducted Feb 9-11.

The company voluntarily surrendered its air operator’s certificate on Monday.

“Officals at Air Nunavut realized they do not meet all the requirements to possess their air operator’s certificate, including having adequate maintenance,” John Thorpe, a communications officer with Transport Canada said.

“Transport Canada will continue to work closely with them to correct any inadequacies before the certificate can be re-issued.”

Air Nunavut President Jeff Mahoney, away on holiday, was unavailable for comment as of Nunatsiaq News press time this week.

Must meet basic criteria

Small commercial airlines such as Air Nunavut are required by Transport Canada to meet a number of basic criteria in order to obtain and maintain a valid air operator’s certificate.

First, they are supposed to have a maintenance organization that consists of an operations manager, chief pilot and a person responsible for maintenance whose qualifications and experience meet or exceed Transport Canada’s commercial air standards.

In addition, they must develop an operational control system that measures up to these standards, and submit a detailed company operations manual.

Airlines are also required to submit a detailed training program for all flight crew members and other selected personnel.

Series of incidents

The airline’s accident record apparently alerted Transport Canada inspectors to potential problems.

“Our inspectors monitor all operators of course, and due to two recent events they felt a more thorough on-site review of Air Nunavut was required,” Thorpe said.

In January this year, the pilot of a Piper PA 31-350 registered to Air Nunavut had to land the airplane a mile from the runway in Sanikiluaq after one of the plane’s engines caught fire shortly after take-off.

A month earlier, the front landing gear of another Piper twin-engine Navaho, registered to the same company, failed during a landing at the airstrip in Pangnirtung.

Transport Safety Board records also show three other accidents reported by Air Nunavut between 1989 and 1993 ¬ all involving Cessna-type aircraft.

None of these accidents resulted in injury to passengers or crew.

Transport Canada inspectors regularly audit all all commerical air operations to monitor compliance with safety regulations and maintenance prodecures.

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