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Edmonton flights under investigation

Kent Driscoll
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (June 17/05) - Transport Canada is investigating Share-a-flight, a company offering $200 flights between Edmonton and Yellowknife.

NNSL photo

Corky McIntyre (left) and Patrick Johnston arrive at the Yellowknife airport, on one of the daily commercial flights. A company offering discount flights to this airport in under investigation by Transport Canada. - Kent Driscoll/NNSL photo

"We've initiated an investigation into this organization, through the aviation enforcement division," said Susan McLennan, a Transport Canada spokesperson.

Mark Giecal said his Share-a-flight is "a carpool - only in the sky."

The flights are non-profit. All money after gas is paid for will go to food banks, Giecal said.

In its advertising, Share-a-flight says it is flying a four-seat Piper Navajo every day. A one-way flight takes 3.5 hours.

Under Transport Canada's radar

The Edmonton Food Bank and the Yellowknife Food Bank have never heard of Giecal or Share-a-flight.

"In over two years, I've never heard of him," said Yellowknife Food Bank treasurer Dan McStravick.

Giecal is flying under Transport Canada's radar as well.

"We do not have a record of this operation," said McLennan.

If you take off from one airport, land at another, and charge for the flight, you are a commercial carrier according to Transport Canada. There are no carpools in the sky. Exceptions are made for sharing the cost of gas while sight-seeing, or for a novice pilot trying to get their flight hours, as long as they take off and land from the same place.

All commercial carriers in Canada need an Air Operators Certificate.

"It's a big commitment, the bureaucracy and the paperwork is overkill, but that's the age we live in," said Teri Arychuk, VP of flight operations for Air Tindi.

Arychuk spends hours meeting the Transport Canada requirements for Air Tindi.

"They've been here already this year. They'll come by, watch you load the plane and audit your paperwork for training. It's a system that works," said Arychuk.

Along with the paperwork, a certified airline needs a director of maintenance, a chief pilot and an operations manager.

The chief pilot must pass an exam with 80 per cent and an interview with Transport Canada.

"In the past, we've had this type of operator around. You hope that a customer realizes that there's no insurance," said Arychuk.