Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad

Power outage no problem

Cambridge Bay aircraft were not at risk, says GN

Chris Puglia
Northern News Services

Cambridge Bay (May 12/03) - An hour-long power outage in Cambridge Bay that blacked out the hamlet's airport terminal was a potential safety hazard to inbound aircraft, according to Mayor Keith Peterson.

"We had three inbound aircraft at the time," he said. "We're lucky it's May and there is lots of light."

At the time of the power outage on May 6, weather conditions were deteriorating, further heightening concern at the airport.

"It's Murphy's Law, when everything bad that can happen does," he said.

Peterson's main concern is the terminal is not hooked up to an emergency power generator.

In the event of a power failure the Cambridge Bay Community Aerodrome Radio Station (CARS), which delivers flight control and weather services, would lose contact with aircraft.

Power outages do not affect runway lights and navigational instruments at the airport, however.

"There is emergency power at the airport but NavCanada has deemed it unnecessary to connect it to the airport terminal," said Peterson.

Richard Mackenzie, with the Nunavut government's airport division in Ottawa, said aircraft heading to Cambridge Bay last Tuesday were not at risk.

"When a CARS station loses power an uninterruptible battery pack kicks in for 20 to 30 minutes," he said.

During that time the CARS operator broadcasts to local air traffic that will a of contact is imminent due to a power failure.

A call is then made to the air traffic control centre in North Bay, Ont., and all aircraft in the affected area are informed that weather and flight information will be broadcasted from that location.

"That's a redundancy we've built into the system, for safety," said Mackenzie.

"So for incoming flights to lose contact with a CARS sight is not a catastrophe."

Regardless, Mackenzie said, plans are in the works to connect the terminal to emergency power anyway.

"It's not something that is required, we've just decided it is good to have," he said.