Aviation Capital Group signs for 20 A220s and 40 A320neos

From AeroTime Hub – link to source story


US-based lessor Aviation Capital Group (ACG) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for 20 Airbus A220s and a firm order contract for 40 Airbus A320neo family jets, five of which are Airbus A321XLRs. 

“We are delighted to expand our portfolio with additional A220 and A320neo Family aircraft. These highly advanced aircraft will enhance ACG’s strategic objective to offer our airline customers the most modern and fuel-efficient aircraft available,” said Thomas Baker, CEO and President of ACG.  

The Airbus A320neo aircraft is a standard single-aisle jet suitable for short and medium-haul operations. The aircraft has two engine options: Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower PW1100G-JM geared turbofan, and CFM International’s LEAP-1A. It has a maximum range of 6,400 nautical miles (11,853 kilometers) and is capable of seating up to 180 passengers.  

The Airbus A220 family aircraft, including the A220-100 and A220-300 variants, are tailored to serve the 100-150 seat market. The A220-100 has a maximum range of 6,390 kilometers and the A220-300 has 6,297 kilometers. The aircraft family has only one engine option, Pratt & Whitney’s latest-generation PW1500G geared turbofan engine. 

“It also forcefully confirms the A220 as a growingly desirable aircraft and investment in the commercial aviation landscape. We congratulate and thank ACG for its decision to select both the A220 and A320neo Families,” said Christian Scherer, Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Airbus International. 

Charlottetown Airport eyes summer 2022 for travel comeback it’s been waiting for

from CBC News – link to source story

‘I think we’re in line to have a very good summer,’ says CEO Doug Newson

CBC News · December 30, 2021

Airport CEO Doug Newson says there are conversations underway with airlines such as Flair, Swoop, Air Canada and WestJet about adding flights. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

As staff at the Charlottetown Airport reflect on the volatile year that was 2021, they’re hoping the worst of the pandemic is now behind them and that 2022 will be the year things return back to normal.

Traffic at the airport was down over 90 per cent in the first six months of 2021, according to CEO Doug Newson.

But as restrictions began to ease, summer came and P.E.I. opened up, the airport was “relatively pleased” with the mid-July to early December numbers.

“We got back to between 50-60 per cent of normal, so still a long way to go but much better than what we saw in 2020 and certainly the first half of 2021,” he told CBC News: Compass host Brittany Spencer. 

“Overall, an up and down year would be a good way to describe it.”

Airports in Canada received funding through federal government programs to help keep them running. 

At the Charlottetown Airport, some early decisions to cut some expenses combined with some travel and funding through Ottawa helped keep the airport in business.

‘I do remain very optimistic about the future of the airport,’ says Newson. (Tony Davis/CBC)

“We’re in much better shape coming out of this pandemic than we probably expected to be, and quite confident that the worst is behind us,” he said. “As we do reemerge from the pandemic we’ll be able to start reinvesting in the airport and our facilities.”

The uncertainty of 2021 meant Newson and staff kept a watchful eye on travel restrictions, changing public health protocols and much more.

“It’s been challenging on staff and employees … just when we do think that we’ve turned a corner on this, something like what we’ve seen in the past few weeks emerges,” Newson said.

“I do remain very optimistic about the future of the airport, and even 2022 as we come out of this, and I do see much brighter days ahead.” 

Omicron disruptive, but summer is the goal 

Omicron has already led to some turbulence for airports in Canada. The COVID-19 variant — as well as uncooperative weather — has led to cancelled flights and staff shortages across the country, but Newson is hopeful this wave will soon pass and the summer will be a big one for the airport.

Newson said there are conversations underway about adding flights and more to come with airlines such as Flair, Swoop, Air Canada and WestJet.

He expects at that point there will be much pent up demand to travel and P.E.I. “will be seen as a very safe destination for domestic tourism.”

With files from CBC News: Compass

WestJet: An update on our operations and omicron COVID-19 variant impact

Harry Taylor

By Harry Taylor | December 30, 2021

Over the past 72 hours, we have seen a significant increase in delays and cancellations impacting our business. As we work to stabilize our operation to best serve our guests, we understand this has been immensely challenging and frustrating and for that we apologize.

We could not have anticipated the rapid and unpredictable impact of the Omicron variant on our people and operations, coupled with prolonged frigid temperatures across Western Canada and global staffing shortages. Despite all contingency planning, in addition to hiring back thousands of WestJetters to safely support peak operations, we find ourselves no longer able to predictably resource our planned schedule due to Omicron impact and have made the difficult decision to consolidate approximately 15 percent of scheduled flights through to January 31, 2022.

Schedule changes will be implemented over the coming days, and while consolidation is a last resort, it demonstrates the reality of the service we planned versus that we can now realistically deliver. It is the best option to ensure the availability of our frontline staff and third-party service providers, while minimizing the impact on our guests.

Our team is making every effort to consolidate flights that have the least disruption; all guests with impacted flights will be proactively notified. For any WestJet-initiated cancellation or schedule change, where the schedule change was greater than 90 minutes or one or more stops were added, guests are eligible for a refund to original form of payment if desired, or can utilize WestJet’s flexible change and cancel policies. Guests are encouraged to utilize self-serve options prior to calling for assistance; guests seeking support outside of the 72-hour travel window are able to schedule a call-back.

Additional measures are urgently needed from our federal and provincial governments to minimize disruption. Canada has an envious global leadership position in vaccination rates and transportation is the only fully-vaccinated ecosystem and the most tested consumer activity in Canada. National alignment and standardization for our sector, similar to the approaches being taken by provinces to stabilize other essential services such as healthcare, would remove inconsistent provincial isolation requirements that are restricting staffing abilities. We are actively engaging with the federal and provincial governments in light of evolving scientific data available on the Omicron variant, as changes would aid us, along with our sector, in more effectively scheduling crew and employees, while maintaining essential air service for Canadian communities.

We are tremendously grateful to our guests who have continued to demonstrate patience and understanding during these uncertain times. In the face of adversity, our people and our partners have continued to rise to the challenge to ensure our guests get to where they need to go safely. We appreciate the continued support and are committed to providing transparent updates in the days ahead.


Harry Taylor, Interim President and CEO, WestJet Group, Inc.

How Jenny Tung brings an expert’s touch to Air Canada

Story is below Air Canada’s Twitter feed.

30 December 2021

From FlightGlobal – link to source story

By Pilar Wolfsteller | 22 December 2021

Airliner lavatories clog up more often than you think. Just ask Jenny Tung, an aircraft maintenance engineer with Air Canada. She is intimately familiar with the toilets in the air and it is her responsibility to ensure they keep on flushing.

Jet lavatories – along with headphone jacks, seat-back adjustment buttons and entertainment system screens – are among the most touched, and most frequently used items aboard any commercial aircraft, she says.

Jenny Tung of Air Canada

Source: Air Canada

Jenny Tung’s job requires that she travel with the Air Canada jets she maintains

Tung is qualified to fix everything from loose wires and clogged toilets to leaky engines. She is a plumber, mechanic, carpenter, technician, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) engineer, electrician and cleaner, all rolled into one.

Call her an aircraft whisperer.

“I don’t feel like I go to work every day,” says Tung. “I feel like I’m going out to play with the airplanes.”


The daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, Tung, 33, arrived in Canada when she was nine years old. She attended an academically-rigorous high school, where students were encouraged – and expected – to pursue university degrees.

But a year before she graduated, Tung discovered a love and a skill for repairing automobiles.

“I never knew how good I was with my hands until I started fixing cars,” she says. Just before she was ready to leave for university, she decided against it.

“My father was in the military, so he was all about discipline, and he always made me fold my blanket in a square,” Tung says. “But that summer I was very honest with myself. I knew that if I went away to university I was going to party my head off and not get very good grades.

“I decided to do trade school first, and maybe think about university later.”

She enrolled at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, where she completed a 16-month apprenticeship programme in aircraft maintenance, a course in which she was among just a handful of women.

While studying, Tung took a part-time job as a ramp agent – “tossing around 50-pound bags” and cleaning aircraft in an attempt to get her foot in the door.

“I knew I was going to have to be competitive, or employers just wouldn’t see me,” she says.

After graduating in 2008, she landed in a job and career that has taken her across the country – and has exposed her to an impressively wide range of aircraft, from business jets (“the Ferraris of airplanes”, she calls them) and commercial airliners (“big old buses”) to helicopters.

She is now at Air Canada, based in Vancouver, type-rated as a maintenance engineer for Airbus A320s and Boeing 767s, and working on the carrier’s corporate charter aircraft.

Unlike colleagues supporting Air Canada’s primary scheduled operation, Tung’s job requires that she travel with the jets she maintains. She might, for example, accompany a professional ice hockey team on an away-game trip criss-crossing North America for a week or more.

By comparison, most maintenance on Air Canada aircraft used for scheduled flights takes place while the jets are parked overnight.

“When we get to the ramp in the evening, we have a task card with specific jobs to complete,” she says. “We do everything mechanical. If a seat back doesn’t recline, we fix it. If an engine doesn’t start, we repair the problem. If a lavatory needs to be unclogged, we do that too. So we have to know the aircraft very well.”

Jenny Tung at work for Air Canada

Source: Air Canada

Tung’s responsibilities include performing maintenance on “everything mechanical”

Tung credits numerous mentors with helping set her up for success – people who went out of their way to treat her as a peer in a segment of the aviation industry that is still more than 97% male.

“A lot of people in maintenance will treat you differently just because of you being female,” she says. “My mentors never did that. They always gave me the same opportunities.

“I always joke with the guys that my purse is usually heavier than that toolbox,” she says.

But the journey has not been all fun and joshing. When economic hardship comes, it often affects the aviation industry first – and its workers.

“I got laid off eight times so far. That’s kind of just part of aviation,” Tung says. “The economy has fluctuated a lot. But I’m still here. I’m still doing this.”

Every time one door closed, every time crisis struck one part of the industry, Tung found new opportunities, and kept on learning.


But what is the best part about working on big jets? For Tung, it is watching an engine come back to life following repairs.

“After certain checks, we have to do an engine run to make sure that it’s not leaking or malfunctioning. It’s very rewarding because you can see you did everything right, everything works and the engine performs the way it’s supposed to.”

On a recent night shift, Tung helped secure a repaired engine to the wing of a 787.

“In the morning, my parents took off to go back to Taiwan on that same aircraft,” she says. “Who can say that in their job they put the engine on the airplane that their parents flew across the Pacific? That’s a tremendous amount of responsibility and honour.

“I know the impact I have makes a huge difference,” she adds.

Which brings Tung back to the clogged toilet. So how do technicians clear the pipes?

“We have what’s called a lavatory snake. So we activate that toilet, and it creates a vacuum. We use the suction of one lavatory to unclog the other,” she says.

“It’s interesting and pretty disgusting. But it’s important too.”

WestJet to cancel 15% of flights due to COVID-19 related staff shortages

From City News Vancouver – link to source story

FILE -- A WestJet plane takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Vancouver on Monday, May 13, 2019. Onex Corp. has signed a friendly deal to buy WestJet Airlines Ltd. in a transaction it valued at $5 billion, including assumed debt. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
FILE — A WestJet plane takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Vancouver on Monday, May 13, 2019. Onex Corp. has signed a friendly deal to buy WestJet Airlines Ltd. in a transaction it valued at $5 billion, including assumed debt. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

By Josh Ritchie and the Canadian Press | December 30, 2021

WestJet says it is being forced to cut 15 per cent of its flights through to the end of January as it deals with staffing shortages due to the Omicron variant.

The Calgary-based airline says it has seen a 35 per cent increase in active cases among staff in recent days, with 181 WestJet employees currently affected by COVID-19.

WestJet says it has seen a significant increase in flight delays and cancellations over the past 72 hours.

It says it can no longer predictably staff its scheduled flights.

“Schedule changes will be implemented over the coming days, and while consolidation is a last resort, it demonstrates the reality of the service we planned versus that we can now realistically deliver,” said WestJet President and CEO Harry Taylor in a statement. “It is the best option to ensure the availability of our frontline staff and third-party service providers, while minimizing the impact on our guests.”

The announcement comes as more than 850 flights were cancelled in the U.S. on Wednesday, according to data from the flight-tracking website FlightAware. There were nearly 1,300 cancellations for flights entering, leaving or inside the U.S. Tuesday, and about 1,500 on Monday.

WestJet says guests whose flights are cancelled or rescheduled by the airline will be eligible for a refund. Guests with impacted flights will be notified by the airline.

Air Canada Congratulates Captain Judy Cameron on Being Named to the Order of Canada

MONTREAL, Dec. 29, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Today, the office of Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, named Captain Judy Cameron as one of the newest appointees to the Order of Canada.

“On behalf of everyone at Air Canada, we salute and applaud Judy on receiving Canada’s highest honour that recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation, and enriching the lives of others while making a difference to this country. Judy has been a trailblazer throughout her entire career, and she continues to be a tremendous ambassador, tireless mentor and inspiration to the next generation of female pilots. Warmest congratulations, Judy!” said Arielle Meloul-Wechsler, Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer and Public Affairs.

Judy Cameron became the first female pilot hired by Air Canada, Canada’s largest airline, in April 1978 at the age of 23. She was the first woman to graduate from Selkirk College’s Aviation Technology Program in 1975. Throughout her flying career of 40 years and over 23,000 hours, she has flown the DC-3, Twin Otter, Hawker Siddeley 748, DC-9, Lockheed 1011, Airbus 320, Boeing 767 and Boeing 777 to the far corners of the world. She became a captain in 1997 and in 2010, she became the first female captain in Canada of a Boeing 777, the largest aircraft in Air Canada’s fleet. She retired in 2015, received the Elsie MacGill Northern Lights award in the Flight Operations category that year, and in 2016 she was chosen by the 99s (International Organization of Women Pilots) to be on its Canadian postage stamp.  Today, Captain Cameron continues her volunteer work mentoring and supporting the next generation of female pilots with the Northern Lights Aero Foundation.

In 2019, Air Canada proudly launched the Captain Judy Cameron Scholarship in her honour with the goal of helping the next generation of women follow in her trailblazing footsteps. To date, eight scholarships have been distributed to help young women pursue non-traditional professional aviation careers as commercial pilots or aircraft maintenance engineers.

About Air Canada

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline, and in 2019 was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050.

“It’s a crisis and our territory needs us”: Iqaluit Water Crisis eased by network of partners

Ottawa, December 20, 2021

We are now more than two months into the Iqaluit Water Crisis. Winter has settled in. The public emergency has made international headlines. Iqalungmiut have endured: From neighbours getting river water for Elders to volunteers standing out in the cold to hand out bottles of water. Trying times often bring out the best in people and communities. 

That’s true behind the scenes too, where a number of organizations have been crucial in getting water to Iqalungmiut. Their workers have had to pour dozens of overtime hours into their job. The work-life balance so many of us seek has been temporarily thrown out the window. But you won’t hear any of those workers complain. 

“This is unprecedented, but everyone realizes what it’s for,” Hussam Beg said. Hussam manages Frobisher Bay Touchdown Services in Iqaluit, which normally provides ground services for military, air ambulances and private planes. Since the crisis started, though, Hussam has been working closely with other Iqaluit partners to make sure a steady stream of potable water is still getting to residents. 

“We’re working hand-to-hand and shoulder-to-shoulder and it’s developed a really good camaraderie,” Hussam said, just in from the cold after helping Canadian North cargo staff unload a CargoJet packed with bottled water and load another jet with cargo bound for Ottawa. 

His staff get to meet and joke around with staff from other organizations and invite them back to their base for coffee, Hussam said. 

“Everyone in their hearts knows that we’re helping, so we get that warm fuzzy feeling of bringing people together in a time of crisis. That wasn’t intended, it’s just a by-product,” said Hussam. 

And it’s not just his staff that have rallied to chip in – it’s other organizations and individuals that Hussam is quick to give credit to. 

“I’m so thankful if I have time to go collect water for myself that it’s volunteers I know standing out in the cold, giving out water – and they’re doing it for free,” he said. 

On airside, Frobisher Touchdown Services also gives their apron space to Air Canada jets flying in about once a week to deliver water, Hussam said. 

Another local partner that Hassam said deserves a lot of recognition is Mike Wilkins and his team over at RL Hanson. 

Mike’s team has been solely responsible for delivering the tonnes and tonnes of bottled water that has been arriving jetload after jetload from the airport into the actual community. 

Sometimes that means helping Canadian North staff break down up to 52 pallets of water on the tarmac before it freezes, Mike said. 

“At the end of the day everybody just tries to come together. It’s not ideal, but we’re all getting through it,” he said. 

Each pallet carries from 1,000 to 1,400 kilograms of water, Mike said. 

“Everyone’s a bit tired and can get on edge sometimes, but everybody realizes what we’re doing and what it’s for – and that’s something we’re proud of and happy to help out with,” he added. 

Mike, who has called Iqaluit home for nearly 20 years, said he’s never seen anything like this crisis. During sealift season, if ships pile up in the bay because of bad weather, his staff can work around the clock to make sure Iqalungmiut get their cargo. But this water crisis was, of course, unexpected and his company has to fill its regular contracts, like snow removal and school bussing services, at the same time. 

“We’ve had a couple of payrolls creeping up to 175, 180 hours,” for individual employees over a two-week period, he said. 

And this crisis has happened while the whole territory has been adjusting to COVID for nearly two years now. 

Because of that, Mike and some of his staff haven’t been able to take a holiday for two years. 

“I don’t know if there’s light at the end of the tunnel yet because we haven’t looked up long enough to see if there’s one there,” Mike said. 

“It’s been a challenge, but hey, it’s a crisis and our territory needs us,” he added.

Partners in the South have been crucial in getting water to the Iqaluit airport for Hussam’s and Mike’s team to help Canadian North unload, unpack and get into the city. 

Simon Gadbois is the Operations Manager of Arctic Consultants, a freight forwarding company and food supplier that has been serving Nunavik, Nunavut and the High Arctic for nearly 40 years. 

The key to responding to this crisis has been speed and flexibility, Simon said. 

“I think we got our first call from the Government of Nunavut at 9 AM and by that same afternoon we were delivering water to Canadian North in Ottawa,” he said. 

Like the others, Simon said his team has been very willing to put in extra work during the crisis. 

“This is a major crisis in a big city like Iqaluit with nearly 10,000 people. Having no water – we cannot imagine what it’d be like,” he said. 

It’s that empathy and understanding that motivates him and his team to put in the hours. 

But it’s presented some logistical challenges. 

“Nobody was expecting that volume of water to be needed,” Simon said. 

Arctic Consultant scoured the whole country for water suppliers to meet the Government of Nunavut’s orders, settling mostly on suppliers in Ontario and Quebec, he added. 

They deliver about 40 tonnes of water per plane load and have orders for 14 plane loads on deck. 

Simon said his staff are really taking the company’s motto – “Melting the distance” – to heart. 

“How can we melt the distance? Wherever water is, we’ll bring it to an airport to get it to Iqaluit,” he said. 

“Everyone understands the situation, that it’s an emergency. It’s extra work but it’s extra reward too. We’re proud to be helping.” 

Canadian North has also partnered with the City of Iqaluit for the distribution of the water, as well as CargoJet, Air Canada and Chrono Aviation in getting water to Iqaluit. 

Canadian North partnered with numerous other airlines and contractors to bring 33 flights full of bottled water to Iqaluit by the end of November. That includes jets operated by Canadian North, Air Canada and CargoJet as well as Hercules turboprop planes. So far, the total amount of water transported to Iqaluit by Canadian North is approximately 2.5 million bottles or 1.25 million litres. For comparison, an Olympic-size pool holds 2.5 million litres. Canadian North continues to work with its partners to ensure a steady flow of potable water reaches Iqaluit. 

Air force reporting progress in fight for pilots as COVID-19 ravages airlines

From The Toronto Star – link to source story

By The Canadian Press | Tue., December 28, 2021

OTTAWA – The commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force is reporting progress in his long-running fight to recruit and retain more pilots.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Lt.-Gen. Al Meinzinger says the air force needs 90 more pilots to fly the military’s planes and helicopters.

The air force is supposed to have about 1,500 pilots and was short around 225 at the end of December 2019.

Meinzinger notes the military has rolled out a number of initiatives over the past two years to address the problem.

They include a pay increase for pilots and a reorganization that reduced the overall number of pilots needed.

Meinzinger says it’s unclear how much a slowdown in hiring by commercial airlines during the pandemic has helped, and he worries the air force’s gains could be temporary if airlines begin hiring again.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 28, 2021.

One of Alberta’s STARS first pilots retires after 35 years

From Global News – link to source story and video

By Michael King, Global News | December 23, 2021

Click to play video: 'One of Alberta’s first STARS pilots retires after 35 years'
Greg Curtis, one of the first pilots for STARS Air Ambulance back in 1985, is retiring after 35 years of flying with the organization. Michael King reports on some of the advancements Curtis has brought to STARS.

Link to story video

If you’ve ever seen the unmistakable red of the STARS Air Ambulance, there’s no doubt Greg Curtis was at the controls at least once.

Now, the veteran pilot who played a key role in launching the organization 35 years ago has retired.

Curtis was one of the first pilots with the organization back in 1985. From the beginning, he knew the service would quickly become an important part of Alberta’s first response network.

“In the United States, (air ambulances) were starting to really pick up speed in terms of being a real factor and in moving people,” said Curtis. “I knew that was happening and I was really interested in it.”

As technology improved, Curtis ensured that STARS was always at the forefront.

In 2003, he brought night vision goggles to the organization, making STARS the first civilian air carrier to use them in Canada.

Click to play video: 'STARS unveils next generation helicopters in Manitoba'
STARS unveils next generation helicopters in Manitoba

“The goggles brought us a perspective of where we could see and what was happening,” said Curtis in a 2015 documentary released by STARS. “They’ve had a tremendous impact in terms of how we operate especially into the mountainous regions at night.”

When it came to Curtis’s 3,300 missions, he knows there were many highs and lows.

Instead of dwelling on every outcome, Curtis said he was focused on the aviation aspects of the flights.

“If I had a philosophy, it would always be just making sure that we can get there safely and get home,” said Curtis.

“There really wasn’t anything more important to me than the crew, my aircraft and my colleague beside me.”

STARS chief operating officer Mike Lamacchia said having Curtis retire after 35 years will be felt by everyone in the organization.

“He took a leap of faith and he put his whole soul into STARS,” said Lamacchia. “The impact that he’s had on patients, families, friends, colleagues… that’s something that never leaves you.”

Click to play video: 'Chance reunion sees Alberta woman give COVID-19 vaccine to STARS Air Ambulance nurse who saved her life'
Chance reunion sees Alberta woman give COVID-19 vaccine to STARS Air Ambulance nurse who saved her life

Curtis said he will miss traversing across Alberta’s beautiful landscape, and that any more flying will likely be as passenger, preferably on the way to some untouched power in Rockies.

He adds that he’ll be keeping an eye out for his colleagues as they continue their important work.

“They fly over my house every day and they kind of torment me,” Curtis laughed. “I appreciate them.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Weather forces large Alaska-bound cargo plane to land in Whitehorse

From CBC News – link to source story

Airport staff accommodated the aircraft that had been traveling from Seoul

Luke Carroll · CBC News · December 27, 2021

Bad weather conditions forced a Western Global cargo airplane to land at the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport on Dec. 26. (Submitted by Simon Blakesley.)

Whitehorse residents passing the airport on Boxing Day afternoon may have noticed a large and unusual visitor. 

This was a Western Global cargo aircraft that was forced to divert from its route to Alaska due to poor weather and land at the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport.

Simon Blakesley is an aviation photographer who was about to go for his annual Boxing Day walk around 1 p.m., when he heard the aircraft would be arriving on a radio scanner. 

“I heard the Western Global call … on the airport tower frequency, which, Western Global? I don’t think they’ve ever come to Whitehorse before for any reason,” he said. “So that just made my ears prick, that ‘why would a Western Global freighter aircraft like that be talking to our control tower?’ “

Western Global Airlines is a Florida-based air cargo transportation service. 

Blakesley said once he realized the plane would be landing, he grabbed his camera gear — which he always keeps close — and headed straight to the airport. He said he missed the landing, but arrived in time to take some photos of the aircraft on the tarmac. 

“It is one of the biggest that I’ve seen here,” Blakesley said of the cargo plane. 

Nigel Cripps, the airport manager, said Nav Canada was notified of the arrival about 30 minutes before the aircraft landed. 

The cargo aircraft, known as McDonnell Douglas MD-11, was traveling from Seoul to Anchorage, Alaska. 

Cripps said bad weather around Alaska meant it needed a different place to land. 

As the aircraft was arriving internationally, Cripps notified border services. He said Air North ramp staff then assisted the arriving airplane with its landing.

Josh Clark is Air North’s director of charter, fixed base operations, and corporate. 

Clark said Air North has a fixed base operation at the Whitehorse airport that offers supports, including de-icing and refueling, to planes landing for whatever reason.

“They’re northern based, they’re highly trained,” he said. “Their key goal every day is to ensure safe and reliable operations… whether it’s a scheduled or unscheduled arrival. They marshal the aircraft in and make sure it’s on the ground safely and basically tuck it in.”

As Whitehorse is on a popular flight path, Cripps said these types of situations can happen every few years.   

“Generally as an airport, we’re well equipped to handle most situations,” he said. 

The international status of the airport has added benefits for pilots who find themselves in any sort of emergency situation in the North, as it has a large runway that can accommodate bigger aircraft — like the Western Global one. 

Cripps said the arrival did make for an eventful Boxing Day and credited everyone who helped with the situation, which included the airfield maintenance staff who braved blowing snow and cold temperatures. 

“I think all the people involved handled it really well,” he said. 

Cripps said the aircraft was still at the Whitehorse airport as of Monday morning, but he expects it will depart by the end of the day.