2020-2023 Northern Action Plan – A $9.5M Investment for a New Air Inuit Staff House in Puvirnituq

QUÉBEC, June 17, 2022 /CNW Telbec/ – The Société du Plan Nord (SPN) and Air Inuit jointly invest $9.5 million to build a new staff house for the airline’s workforce in Puvirnituq. This new building will help attract, mobilize, and retain company personnel, which operates and serves the Nord-du-Québec region.

Mr. Jonatan Julien, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Côte-Nord and Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine regions, and Christian Busch, Air Inuit President and CEO, have made the announcement today. The SPN will grant $3.2 million toward this project, while Air Inuit will cover the remaining $6.3 million to carry out this project.

The new building will help better meet the increasing air travel demand in Nunavik and comply with newly implemented federal regulations on pilot fatigue management. Air Inuit must, in fact, hire more staff to maintain its operations and avoid service interruptions while mitigating the effects of pilots’ increased flight time limitations.

The future staff house will host 25 rooms, 15 more than are available in the existing Air Inuit staff house. It will also feature private sanitary blocks designed according to COVID-19 health guidelines.

This project will be carried out by Kautaq Construction. The environmental dimension of this project will be emphasized to optimize the use of locally sourced resources and limit the project’s environmental impacts. The new building is scheduled to be unveiled in 2023.

The SPN grants $3.2 million in funding through the Northern Action Plan 2020-2023 Opportunity Budget. This budget aims to address issues and meet communities’ needs north of the 49th parallel during this period.

Quote :

“Today, I am pleased to announce our government’s funding toward this Air Inuit project. Through the Northern Action Plan, we aim to optimize area access while ensuring we meet each region’s needs. This new staff house will ensure the reliability of Air Inuit’s services, which are essential for Nunavik’s communities.”

Jonatan Julien, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Côte-Nord Region and the Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine Region

“This investment is excellent news for the Northern Territory. Air Inuit, wholly under Inuit ownership, is important for Nunavik. This airline links the various northern villages and connects the Northern territory to the province’s south. The company also provides quality jobs for residents of the area.”

Ian Lafrenière, Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs

“Puvirnituq is the hub that links many of the surrounding communities on the Hudson coast and Hudson Straight, providing a consistent quality of service to this community is key. We thank the Société du Plan Nord for their contribution towards this project and applaud Air Inuit for its initiative and dedication in making sure that Nunavimmiut receive the services they deserve.”

Pita Aatami, President, Makivik Corporation

“Today, we are investing substantial sums to ensure the continuation of essential services in Nunavik and contribute to Air Inuit staff well-being, who work in sometimes harsh, winterly conditions to deliver quality airline services. We want to thank our partners, the Société du Plan Nord and the gouvernement du Québec, for their support in building this new infrastructure.”

Christian Busch, President and CEO, Air Inuit

Highlights :

  • SPN’s mission is to contribute to the integrated and holistic development of Québec’s Northern territory based on government-issued orientations. It does so in consultation with relevant regional representatives, Indigenous communities, and the private sector.
  • Founded in 1978 by the Inuit and wholly-owned by Makivik Corporation, Air Inuit was created to provide an airline connection among Nunavik’s 14 communities and between the region and southern Quebec to promote trade and to help maintain the Inuit culture.
  • The 20-23 NAP reflects priorities that Northern Quebec stakeholders have identified. It aims to provide relevant communities with the appropriate tools and enable them to inhabit the territory fully. The gouvernement du Québec will invest $778.6 million, or more than half of the amount provided in the 20-23 NAP, to support businesses and residents who are established and active north of the 49th parallel. Twenty departments and agencies of the gouvernement du Québec jointly designed the 20-23 NAP’s 49 socio-economic actions.

‘Lifeline of the north,’ Air Inuit opens door to new era in shipping cargo to northern Quebec

From CBC News 🔗 link to source story

Modified freight compartment mean large items can be flown to Nunavik’s isolated communities

Josh Grant · CBC News · February 20, 2022

Air Inuit retrofitted this De Havilland Dash 8-300 with a larger freight door, as seen here in the darker section of the fuselage, making it possible to load pallets of food and essential goods, as well as heavy equipment to the 14 coastal communities the airline serves. (submitted by Air Inuit/Duane Court)

It took six years to pull it off, but Air Inuit President Christian Busch says the completion of the arduous process of cutting a new cargo door in what started out as a 50-passenger plane means the remote Inuit communities served by the airline will now have more timely access to crucial goods.

“We had to adapt the cargo transportation of the north to today’s realities,” said Busch. “Important tools such as ATVs, snowmobiles, mining equipment were all increasing in size.”

Air Inuit is a subsidiary of Makivik, the corporation wholly owned by the Inuit of Nunavik — the region that covers the northern third of Quebec. The airline primarily serves Nunavik’s 14 communities located on the west coast of Hudson Bay, the coast south of the Hudson Strait and on both sides of Ungava Bay.

Except for the short summer season, when goods to those coastal communities are shipped in by sea, Inuit in Nunavik depend on the airline for a steady supply of staples, as well as passenger service between the communities and to southern Quebec and Nunavut.

Busch said custom-building a large freighter door on one of the airline’s 30 planes to accommodate large items means the communities don’t have to plan around sea shipments for many goods, and it makes it easier and faster to load and unload perishable cargo, like fresh fruits and vegetables, on pallets.

“Air Inuit is the lifeline of the north,” said Busch. “So for us it was important to allow the Inuit to get these items all year round.”

Long-term improvements

Air Inuit launched the cargo door project in 2016, as part of its fleet modernization program. Rather than buy a bigger plane, Busch said the company decided to retrofit one of its Quebec-built De Havilland Dash 8-300s. Collins Aerospace, a unit of Raytheon Technologies, was brought in to help.

The Dash 8-300 produces 30 per cent less emissions than the airline’s older cargo aircraft, and Busch said it’s well-equipped to handle the short, gravel runways and harsh weather conditions at airports in Nunavut and Nunavik.

Air Inuit staff along with David Vanderzwaag of Rockwell Collins Aerospace, far right, pose in front of the enlarged cargo door built into the fuselage of the Dash 8-300. (submitted by Air Inuit/Stéphanie Boisvert)

Cutting a hole the size of a car out of the back of a plane was no small feat. Busch says it took the engineering team 36 months and $5 million to make it happen. Nearly half of that funding, $2.3 million, came from Quebec’s Fonds Vert program, a spokesperson for the airline said.

The most stressful part of the project was the exact moment the fuselage was cut open, said Busch. No one has ever tried to modify a Dash 8-300 this way before, and any small mistake could have led to irreparable damage.

Modifying the aircraft meant following strict Canadian regulations, but after it was satisfied that the project team had jumped through all of the hoops, Transport Canada certified the plane to fly on Feb. 3. The freight carrier took off from Montreal for the first time on Feb. 8, delivering a shipment of food and other essentials to the village of Tasiujaq, near Ungava Bay, about 1,900 kilometres north of Montreal.

Air Inuit owns 15 Dash 8-300s: three strictly for cargo, including the one with the new enlarged freight door, and 12 others that have been modified to seat 45 passengers, making room for extra luggage. The airline plans to purchase one more plane and do a similar overhaul on the cargo door, Busch said.

With the knowledge and experience gained over the past six years, Busch said, he expects the next renovation to take about half the time this one did.

“We’re giving a few days off to our team,” he said, laughing, “but we have already planned on retrofitting a second aircraft.”

“The work will be starting this summer.”

Members of the Air Inuit team stand in front of the section of the De Havilland Dash 8-300 that was removed to install a larger cargo door. From left to right: Simon Fournier, Sébastien Mailloux, Louis Gauthier and Danny Fournier. (submitted by Air Inuit)

With files from Quebec AM

World’s First Large Freighter Door De Havilland Dash8-300 Goes Into Service

SAINT-LAURENT, QC, Feb. 9, 2022 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Inuit today announced the world’s first large freighter door Dash8-300 aircraft officially joined its fleet. Following more than 36 months of planning, design, retrofitting and safety testing, the custom-modified aircraft received its Supplemental Type Certificate from Transport Canada on February 3rd.

Equipping a Dash8-300 with a custom-built large freighter door is not only a world’s first, but also a practical way to improve the essential service Air Inuit provides every day. By eventually facilitating the use of palettes for moving food and other goods, loading and unloading times can be shortened while reducing the risk of damage to fragile cargo such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

This initiative was achieved thanks to the expert technical support of Rockwell Collins, and aligns with Air Inuit’s continuous pursuit of solutions to meet the needs of its customers and those of the northern region while working to improve its environmental footprint.

Innovation to meet unique challenges

A crucial part of Air Inuit’s mission serving 14 communities throughout Northern Quebec is the delivery of essential goods and oversized materials. In the absence of road access, Air Inuit provides a vital link ensuring cargo ranging from food to indispensable tools such as ATV’s and snowmobiles can be delivered reliably and affordably.

“The introduction of this innovative design to Air Inuit’s fleet is about more than the convenience and reliability the people of Nunavik have come to expect. It is about recognizing the specific challenges of the communities we serve, and finding an innovative new way to support the development of those communities. Hats off to our team and partners for achieving this.”
–Christian Busch, President & CEO, Air Inuit

Air Inuit selected the reliable, Canadian-made Dash8-300 because it represents the intersection between capacity and adaptability. Well-suited for locations that often have short gravel runways, the Dash8-300 has also proven itself in the challenging weather conditions of Nunavik. This one-of-a-kind addition helps Air Inuit fulfill its mission to serve and develop communities across Nunavik and beyond.

Helping the environment

The development of Air Inuit’s first large freighter door Dash8-300 was made possible in part thanks to an important contribution from the Quebec Government’s Fonds Vert. This support was crucial in advancing this innovation, which means using a more energy-efficient Dash8-300 in place of other aging cargo planes such as the HS-748, which used 30% more fuel and was retired several years ago from Air Inuit’s fleet.

Specifications

Aircraft Model: Dash8-300
Max Weight: 43,000 lbs / 19,500 kg
Cruising Speed: 328 mph / 530 kmh
Range: 968 miles / 1,550 km
Large Freighter Door – Clear Opening: 108″ x 68″ / 274 cm x 173 cm

About Air Inuit

Founded by the Inuit in 1978, Air Inuit was created to provide air connections between Nunavik’s 14 coastal villages, to promote trade and to preserve Inuit culture. The company is also committed to the development of this immense territory and the prosperity of its people by providing support to various community organizations, cultural events, educational and sports programs, as well as the implementation of employment access programs for Inuit people.

What Airlines Still Fly Boeing 737 Combis? Canada istopping the list!

From Simple Flying – link to source story

by Linnea Ahlgren | May 25, 2021

While the past year has seen the rise of the ‘preighter’, cargo-passenger combination aircraft have slowly declined. With a history spanning over half a century, how many Boeing 737 Combi airplanes are still active in the skies today?

Air Inuit 737 Combi
Most civilian 737 Combis still in operation are flying to remote locations in the north of Canada. Photo: BriYYZ via Wikimedia Commons

The Boeing 737 was the world’s best-selling aircraft for decades before the Airbus A320 overtook it in total orders in November 2019. It was the first commercial jet ever to surpass the 10,000 milestone in 2012, and as of April 2021, Boeing had received a total of 14,693 orders for the 737 family.

Boeing also offered a few of its versions in a combi variant. The plane maker produced a total of 125 of the 737-200C, 737-300C, 737-400C, and eventually the 737-700C. However, only a handful of operators of the Boeing 737 Combi remain.

Government missions

According to data retrieved from the ch-aviation database, 13 carriers are operating a total of 36 active Boeing 737 Combi aircraft. Nearly half of these, all 737-700Cs, are the military version known as the Boeing C-40 Clipper and operated by the United States Navy.

Another two, both Boeing 737-400Cs approaching 32 years old, are in the care of the United States National Nuclear Security Administration, a federal agency ‘responsible for safeguarding national security through the military application of nuclear science’.

Chrono Aviation 737 Combi
Chrono Aviation operates a 737-200C. Photo: Airline12 via Wikimedia Commons

Canada topping the list

The remaining 19 Boeing 737 Combis are in service with carriers operating in remote locations, the majority of them located in Canada. With its main base at Kujjuaq Airport in Quebec, Air Inuit has three active 737-200Cs in its fleet, all close to or just over 40 years. Air Inuit operates domestic services to Labrador, Nunavik, and Nunavut.

Canadian North operates one 737-200C and two 737-400Cs. It acquired the latter two when merging with First Air in November 2019. The holly Inuit-owned airline also operates scheduled passenger services to communities in the Northwest Territories, Nunavik, and Nunavut, with a slogan reading ‘Fly the Arctic’.

Charter airline Chrono Aviation, based out of Québec City International Airport, also has a 38-year-old 737-200C in its fleet. Two Combi 737-200s are also deployed by Canadian commodities corporation Glencore.

Meanwhile, Montreal-based charter carrier Nolinor is still operating as many as four 737-200 Combi aircraft. Two are just over four decades old. However, one has passed the 45 mark, while another is still just over 36. The youngest of the group is a 737-200QC, which allows for conversion for either 130 passengers or a combination of passengers and cargo.

Canadian North 737 combi
Canadian North operates three 737 combis, two of which it inherited from the merger with First Air. Photo: Gordon Leggett via Wikimedia Commons

In service of the UN

In other parts of the world, Philippino leisure carrier SEAir International owns one active 737-200C, delivered just this January after a 40-year long history with FedEx, Alaska Airlines, and South African carriers Bionic Aviation and Fair Aviation.

Meanwhile, in Africa, Aviatrade Congo still operates a 737-200C over half a century of age. A younger model, a 28-year-old 737-400C, is owned by South African Safair but leased to the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service.

Unstable approach led to 2020 hard landing and rear fuselage strike in Schefferville, Quebec

Dorval, Quebec, 3 March 2021 — In its investigation report (A20Q0013) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) found that the January 2020 hard landing and rear fuselage strike in Schefferville, Quebec, was the result of an unstable approach.

From Air Inuit

On 20 January 2020, a de Havilland DHC-8-314 operated by Air Inuit Ltd. was conducting a flight from Québec/Jean Lesage Airport, Quebec, to Schefferville Airport, Quebec, with three crew members and 42 passengers on board. During the landing, the rear fuselage struck the runway as the wheels touched down. After landing, the aircraft taxied to the terminal to disembark the passengers. There were no injuries; however, the aircraft sustained substantial damage.

The investigation found that the flight crew forgot to perform the descent checklist and realized this at an inopportune time, while the captain (pilot monitoring) was providing a position report. Given ambiguities and contradictions in the company’s stabilized approach guidelines, the captain interpreted that he was allowed to continue the approach below 500 feet above aerodrome elevation, even though the aircraft had not been fully configured for the landing. When the aircraft passed this altitude, the pilots, who were dealing with a heavy workload, didn’t notice and continued the approach, which was unstable. At the time of the landing, the aircraft no longer had enough energy to arrest the descent rate solely by increasing pitch attitude. The pilot’s instinctive reaction to increase the pitch attitude during the flare, combined with the hard landing, resulted in the rear fuselage striking the runway, causing substantial damage to the aircraft’s structure.

The investigation also made findings as to risk related to Air Inuit’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) and training, and to Transport Canada’s (TC) oversight. Transport Canada assessed Air Inuit’s SOPs, but did not identify any specific issues with the operator’s stabilized approach guidelines. If TC does not assess the quality, consistency, accuracy conciseness, clarity, relevance, and content of SOPs, the procedures may be ineffective, increasing risks to flight operations.

Additionally, the captain had not received many of the required training elements during his recurrent training. If required training elements are not included in recurrent training, and if TC’s surveillance plan does not verify the content of crew training, there may be procedural deficiencies or deviations, increasing risks to flight operations.  

Following the occurrence, Air Inuit took a number of safety actions, including the revision of its SOPs to improve guidelines on several subjects, including stabilized approaches, and the revision of its training program to ensure that all training elements are covered within the two-year recurrent training cycle.

See the investigation page for more information.

Hydro-Québec and Air Inuit sign a new 12-year contract

Hydro-Québec Logo (CNW Group/Hydro-Québec)
Air Inuit Logo (CNW Group/Hydro-Québec)

MONTRÉAL, April 15, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Hydro-Québec and Air Inuit have entered into a new agreement to ensure the maintenance and operations of Hydro-Québec’s fleet. Valued at approximately $28 million a year, the contract runs until 2032.

Hydro-Québec relies on three aircraft—two Dash 8 Q400 and one Dash 8 300—to transport employees to locations in Saguenay, Abitibi, Côte-Nord and Baie-James.

“This contract is good news for Air Inuit,” said Noah Tayara, chair of the board of directors of Air Inuit. “In the current pandemic, a long-term agreement with a partner like Hydro-Québec provides our organization with some stability and guarantees the continuation of our business relationship with a major customer for at least the next decade. The contract was made possible in large part by the exceptional performance of our employees, whom we would like to thank.”

“On behalf of the Air Inuit employees assigned to Hydro-Québec’s air operation and of the entire Air Inuit team, we thank Hydro-Québec for its confidence and recognition of our long-term relationship and we look forward in pursuing this high standard operation for many years ahead”, stated Christian Busch, Air Inuit’s President and CEO.

“For Hydro-Québec, the good news is twofold,” affirmed Éric Filion, Executive Vice President – Distribution, Procurement and Shared Services at Hydro-Québec. “First, we are strengthening our ties with a quality company. Second, we are gaining the stability of a long-term agreement that ensures the performance and safety of our flight operations, especially considering how vital they are to Hydro-Québec.”

Consolidating jobs

Under the agreement, Air Inuit consolidates 78 cabin crew, pilot and maintenance and operations specialist positions. Hydro-Québec uses Air Inuit’s facilities at YUL Montréal-Trudeau International Airport for its flights to and from its main remote work sites.

About Air Inuit

Founded by the Inuit in 1978 and owned by Makivik Corporation, Air Inuit was created to provide air connections between Nunavik’s 14 coastal villages and southern Québec, to promote trade and to preserve Inuit culture. The company has become a major player in air transportation in Québec and is one of Nunavik’s most significant economic drivers. The company is also committed to the development of this immense territory and the prosperity of its people by providing support to various community organizations, cultural events, educational and sports programs, as well as the implementation of employment access programs for Nunavik Inuit.

About Hydro-Québec

Hydro-Québec generates, transmits and distributes electricity. It is among the world’s largest hydroelectric power producers. Its sole shareholder is the Québec government. Hydro-Québec uses mainly renewable generating options, in particular large hydro.

Air Inuit Announces New President and CEO

KUUJJUAQ, QC, Apr. 6, 2021 /CNW/ – The Board of Directors of Air Inuit ltd. are pleased to announce that Mr. Christian Busch has been appointed as the new President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Inuit, effective April 1, 2021.

Mr. Busch joined Air Inuit in 2002 and most recently acted as the Executive Vice President and Chief operation officer of the airline.  Over the last 19 years, Christian has made many contributions to innovations undertaken by the airline and to its success. As a hands-on Executive with full knowledge of Air Inuit’s core mission and values, he will lead Nunavik’s airline through its next strategic phases and any challenges that await it. Northern aviation is highly specialized and his experience will be a valuable asset to Air Inuit.

“His proven success in building long-term relationships with Nunavimmiut, our stakeholders, customers, and regulators hasn’t gone unnoticed. Over the years he has played a big role in growing and innovating the business, and most importantly his recognition of our dedicated Air Inuit employees make him the best choice to lead Air Inuit,” said Board Chairman Noah Tayara.

“On behalf of Makivik Corporation, its Executives and the Board of Directors, I’m pleased to welcome and support Christian in his new role. In my years as Air Inuit president I worked very closely with Christian, his dedication to Air Inuit as well as his knowledge of the airline industry were very apparent. I have no doubts that our airline will be in good hands, and I look forward to working with Christian in his new role,” stated Makivik President Pita Aatami.

About Makivik

Makivik is the land claims organization mandated to manage the heritage funds of the Inuit of Nunavik provided for under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement. Makivik’s role includes the administration and investment of these funds and the promotion of economic growth by providing assistance for the creation of Inuit-operated businesses in Nunavik. Makivik promotes the preservation of Inuit culture and language as well as the health, welfare, relief of poverty, and education of Inuit in the communities.

www.makivik.org

About Air Inuit                                              
Founded by the Inuit in 1978 and owned 100% by Makivik Corporation, Air Inuit was created to provide air connections between Nunavik’s 14 communities and southern Québec, to promote trade and to preserve Inuit culture. The company has become a major player in air transportation in Québec and is one of Nunavik’s most significant economic drivers. The company is also committed to the development of this immense territory and the prosperity of its people by providing support to various community organizations, cultural events, educational and sports programs, as well as the implementation of employment access programs for Inuit people.

www.airinuit.com