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For Pilots flying in Northern Canada

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For Pilots flying in Northern Canada

Old 29th Jan 2015, 18:29
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Posts: 29
For Pilots flying in Northern Canada

Hi there,

As part of the Aeronautical Engineering degree which I am studying at the moment I am involved in a project to design a new Regional Aircraft. My team and I are in the market research stage at the moment and I have chosen to study the Arctic and in Particular Northern Canada (I won't lie, it's because I loved Ice Pilots, haha).

What I am looking to find out from pilots that fly in the North of Canada is what aircraft you fly and what strengths/weaknesses you feel that aircraft has for the role that it serves. I am trying to find out where we can improve on the existing fleet to make our project a viable one.

Thanks very much for your time and, hopefully, responses.


Last edited by mysterywhiteboy83; 29th Jan 2015 at 18:41.
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Old 11th Feb 2015, 05:22
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Vancouver
Posts: 29

I'm surprised you haven't gotten any responses. I think you'll need to outline the mission profile that you're looking to fill - flying in the north has many different factors and you'll see that most small operators have a vary diverse fleet for different mission profiles.

Outside of Buffalo Joe's flying circus, northern operators have an extremely wide range of aircraft from a single engine Cessna to First Air's 767. Gotta remember that the land area is about the same size as Europe, so not a one size fits all matter.

Also may want to try a message board called AvCanada - lots of Canadian pilots there - just be prepared for the standard unhelpful internet drivel that tends to cloud helpful responses.

Sounds like it'd be a pretty fun project though! Best of luck.
JBI is offline  
Old 11th Feb 2015, 19:25
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 292
2 things come to mind.

Gravel runways (and how they differ through the year).

Passenger and cargo mix.
ahramin is offline  
Old 12th Feb 2015, 02:46
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 602
Avgas very hard to obtain, so best it runs on Jet fuel. Durable as can be, and very easy to maintain. Excellent range. Rough/gravel runway friendly. Warm cabin.
9 lives is offline  
Old 14th Feb 2015, 04:42
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: South of 60
Posts: 13
Replacement needed for B737-200

A good study and some research and development is required to find a replacement for the aging B737-200 series aircraft.
Currently there isn't a certified replacement aircraft in production that can be configured to accommodate the same combi freight/passenger load into gravel runways.
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Old 14th Feb 2015, 19:30
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Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Posts: 29
Hi folks,

Thanks very much for taking the time to reply.

JBI, to outline a in a little more detail what we are trying to do.... We are looking to design a STOL turboprop aircraft capable of carrying up to 12,000 kg of payload into as many of the airstrips in Canada as possible. The target is to access everything over 800m in length. The minimum range in our requirements is 2,500km. We were given a rather ambitious target budget of $14m(US) but im sure we will go over that.

It is a fun project, and very challenging so far, haha.

Ahramin, we did have a discussion at a meeting regarding making it a pax/cargo hybrid. Is that something that is lacking at the moment? Do most aircraft do only one or the other?

Step Turn, do you think a range of 2,500 km is too modest? Should we aim higher?

mccauleyprop, yeah I don't think we will be able to compete with the 737 on range and payload/pax but we are hoping to be able to access more of the runways. From our online research it seems the 737 needed a fairly long runway to operate at max payload. Would that be correct?

Thanks again for your time folks, it really is appreciated and the info you have given so far has been really useful to us.


mysterywhiteboy83 is offline  
Old 15th Feb 2015, 01:32
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Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: canada
Posts: 10
Well, i'm pilot in Northern Canada, you can mp me for specific questions. But the best planes for gravel, icy, short, sloppy runway seems to be dash 8, ATR, for the big and metroliners, beech1900, beech200 for the small turbo prop.
The latest are also widely use for medevacs operations
invitED is offline  
Old 19th Feb 2015, 18:30
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Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: NZ
Posts: 18
We run King Air 200 and 350s from Gravel strips in the North. As long as you have guys who know how to drive on gravel surfaces we've had few issues with prop / engine damage (slightly more than purely operating on pavement, but negligible). One annoyance is breaks freezing up, with fresh snowfall and stinking cold. We have large screwdrivers to pry the pads apart, work fine, with some cold fingers. Also a few goofy gear indications in the extreme cold.
Perimeter (A company who fly out of Winnipeg) operate a fleet of metro's into some short gravel strips, and from what I hear do it well. I'm told it takes a skilled hand to pull this off and not scare your co-jo, or damage the props.
1900s are great for the longer strips, usually limited by ASD distances for many of the strips around the north.
The Hail Mary is still the DHC-6. If strips get soft, or a particularly short you can't go by this machine for STOL work. I hear the DHC-8 -100 is still a true de Havilland STOL machine, and most likely why it’s still used by a lot of operators north of 60.
Air North out of Whitehorse run a couple 737-200s with a gravel kit, and old Siddley Hawkers HS748s for their Gravel Ops. They are looking at swapping out the Hawkers for ATRs very soon. The fuel costs and Overhauls hassles for them engines are quickly making them in-efficient.
I think the legs you’d be looking at will be in the ballpark of 1000-1500miles. Enough to fly south to major centers regularly, but also enough to go north, and carry options for an alternate which are few and far between. As mentioned previously, most operators do a good mix of Pax and Freight, so some sort of “combi” is essential. Virtually everything is flown into the northern communities, so freight makes up a huge percentage of what’s regularly flown in.
If you had time it wouldn’t hurt to contact Calm Air or maybe First Air and ask what issues they have faced, and possible solutions they propose. Also AVCANADA is a fairly active forum for Canadian Pilots and surely shed some more light for you.
All the best!
pointyengine is offline  
Old 20th Feb 2015, 15:43
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Location: Lander, WY, USA
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Turboprop, 12,000kg payload, 2500km range, STOL, you're starting to look like a C130, or at least a G222 more than Twin Otter, right?
340drvr is offline  
Old 21st Feb 2015, 01:01
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Thread Starter
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Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Posts: 29
Hi guys, thank you so much for your responses. The info we are getting has been brilliant and a massive help.

invitED, yeah we are basically looking to push the ATR's etc. on takeoff & landing distances and on payload.

pointyengine, thank you for all that info. There is some great stuff in there. We had been discussing a pax/cargo hybrid so i think you have put that back on the table for us. We had been toying with a changeable cabin idea and also seperate pax/cargo areas but not sure where we will land with that one.

340drvr, yeah we are pushing towards the Herc. Not quite as big and we won't be able to compete on cargo but we are hoping the STOL gives us an advantage to sell the idea.

Last edited by mysterywhiteboy83; 21st Feb 2015 at 01:27.
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Old 24th Feb 2015, 06:14
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Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Canada
Posts: 104
Does it have to be turboprop?

A true combi-BAe146/Avro RJ (the QC version can't do mixes of passengers and cargo) with modern, powerful engines (bringing it down to 2 would be nice) would be pretty slick.

Some leading edge devices too would really help the STOL as well.

Be a little quicker in the cruise than a Herc too.

I've seen one of these up on the Russian 'side' of the Artic - Something like this would be awesome.

plhought is offline  
Old 8th Mar 2015, 03:22
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: canada
Posts: 81
Got your plane..... C-295M
C-295M Twin-Turboprop Transport Aircraft - Airforce Technology

A little short on payload....But a good range..... A little pricy, over 50m$ per unit

The old C-160 Transall is a little over your payload but limited in range...
bzh is offline  
Old 9th Mar 2015, 17:16
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Canadian Shield
Posts: 536
Have spent the last 5 years working at remote diamond and gold mines in the NWT and far north of SK, MB, ON, QC...

Have flown on the lot: 732 with gravel strip mods, C-130s, Metroliners, ATRs, Twotters, Caribou, Caravans, DC-3s, Dash 7s etc etc etc...

Personal favorite? Calm Air's Dornier 328 twin-jet. Small, fast, economical and always seems to get through the very worst of the Canadian Winter.
er340790 is offline  
Old 18th Mar 2015, 20:14
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Timbukthree
Posts: 87
You said "...improve on the existing fleet".

The new version of the Buffalo comes to mind. Viking Aircraft is the current type certificate holder of the DHC-5.

For water ops, a modified Bombardier CL-415.

Looking at the age of the existing fleet of Arctic based aircraft, and the purchasing history of northern operators, buying a new aircraft of any description doesn't appear to be a likely consideration.

Last edited by evansb; 18th Mar 2015 at 21:54.
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Old 19th Mar 2015, 16:47
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: On the lake
Age: 78
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yeah we are pushing towards the Herc.

You'll never get there on a $14 million target selling price. And, we won't even mention the $1 billion+ R&D investment needed!
twochai is offline  

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