Local airplanes holding up in the cold

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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The Transwest Air terminal is seen at Prince Albert’s municipal airport this week. Although flights at larger airports typically close during cold weather, those at Prince Albert have been relatively unaffected. 

With a plethora of flights cancelled throughout North America this week due to cold temperatures, those at Prince Albert’s municipal airport have continued just fine.

 

“It slows things down, just dealing with the cold weather, so there are challenges that way, but as far as mechanical and maintenance we’ve been doing pretty good -- knock on wood,” Transwest Air marketing director Gord Dent said.

“Most of our fleet are all turbine, and they can run at the -50 C temperatures without a problem,” he said, adding that this is about as cold as it’s been so far this winter.

“Everything’s on time and running good -- and again, knock on wood.”

Not only has everything been running well, but aircraft have been running at near peak efficiency, he said.

“Surprisingly things run better in the cold for turbines,” he clarified. “Aircraft, especially the turbine aircraft that we use, are best suited to cold weather as far as operational fuel economy, lift capabilities and so on … There’s a lot more oxygen in cold air, which enhances fuel burn.”

“Airlines make more money in the winter -- again, with the denser air you’ve got more lift and shorter runway takeoff and things like that.”

It’s been a busy time for Transwest Air of late, he said, noting that northerners have been keen on travelling to and from the north in order to see family over their Christmas breaks.

It slows things down, just dealing with the cold weather, so there are challenges that way, but as far as mechanical and maintenance we’ve been doing pretty good -- knock on wood. Gord Dent

Most of the delays at larger airports to the east that have resulted in flight delays and cancellations have had to do with problems on the ground, Dent said, noting that this hasn’t been the case at any of the airport’s Transwest Air services.

“In Saskatchewan things tend to run pretty smoothly because you don’t’ have the super large population base moving around,” he said.

Prince Albert’s municipal airport isn’t salted, but its overseers run a constant ice index, Dent explained.

“They have equipment that can gauge the friction on the runway, and those are always conveyed to pilots.”

Although air traffic hasn’t been affected by cold weather so far, Dent said that Transwest Air isn’t averse to taking the proper safety measures should they become necessary.

“Aviation is safety first, and sometimes with weather, if there is a delay or a concern that’s priority, but we haven’t had any issues that have slowed down things.”

Transwest Air provides scheduled flights and freight service to Saskatoon, Prince Albert, La Ronge, Stony Rapids, Fond du Lac, Wollaston and Points North.

Organizations: Prince Albert

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, La Ronge Stony Rapids Fond du Lac

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