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Airport repaving cancels flight
Canadian North flight redirected due to partly-closed runway

Samantha Stokell
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, July 28, 2011

Repairs to the Inuvik airport's runway last week that went over their allotted time caused the cancellation of one flight.

NNSL photo/graphic

Inuvik's runway was closed last week due to repairs. One flight was cancelled as a result. - NNSL file photo

The airport had started repairs on a dip in the runway starting at 7 p.m. on July 18, with a scheduled completion of 7 a.m. on July 19. The project went a bit longer than expected and the airport had not finished the work by the time flights were scheduled to start on July 19.

To ensure the safety of all planes landing on the runway, the airport closed off 2,000 feet of the 6,000-foot long runway.

Due to the lateness of the decision to close that portion, one Canadian North flight couldn't land in Inuvik and was cancelled, but all other flights arrived as scheduled.

"For every person on that flight, that flight is important," said Karen King, airport manager of Inuvik Mike Zubko Airport. "To lose a flight in the summer, we don't like that. We know how important it is to the people of the community."

The Canadian North flight left Edmonton at 8 a.m. on July 19 and made it as far as Norman Wells before it had to return to Yellowknife. The plane couldn't land in Inuvik because it needed the entire runway to land safely.

Had there been more notice, the flight could have loaded less fuel, cargo or fewer passengers.

"The heavier the plane, the more runway it needs," King said. "If they had more time they could have put a block on fuel or passengers, but it was too late."

To prevent this situation from repeating, a mitigation plan is now in place. If the same circumstances occur, instead of reducing the length of the runway the airport will reduce the width, which would allow all flights to land at the airport.

King said ultimately it's about safety.

"We are always vigilant with dips on the runway," she said. "We feel so bad, but, and I'm probably the only one who would say it, the asphalt is a thing of beauty."

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