The challenges of operating an aircraft in the North are numerous.
“The first challenge is, without a doubt, weather,” says Captain Colin Wilkins, a CC-130J Hercules pilot with 436 Transport Squadron, during a planned flight to Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert. “Weather can be very unpredictable up North – and change rapidly.”
In order to mitigate risks associated with extreme weather conditions, the aircrew follows a “plan procedure for cold weather operations”, says Corporal Yassabi Siwakoti, an aviation technician. This even includes a special procedure to start and shut down the aircraft when it is extremely cold, involving the removal and storage of batteries inside the aircraft.
Located 1,834 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, just 817 kilometres from the North Pole, Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert is the most northerly permanently inhabited location in the world. The main roles of the station are to maintain a geolocation capability to support search and rescue and other operations, and to provide support to Environment and Climate Change Canada and Arctic researchers. Alert also plays a key role in projecting Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.
436 Squadron is a primary unit providing sustainment supplies to CFS Alert. The squadron is tasked with one flight every week to bring fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables to personnel stationed there, as well as two Operation Boxtop resupplies a year, during which they provide the station with…