Up Here - October 2006

Up Here - October 2006

Up Here: Explore Canada's Far North is a magazine about the people, the land and the stories of the North. To learn more, visit www.uphere.ca.

Scroll down to read the articles in the latest issue of Canadian North's official in-flight magazine, now online.

Record Setting Family Adventure on the Dempster

The Dempster Highway is a thrill for all who travel it. Most experience it by car, stopping to hike and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. For Canadian North chief pilot, Laval St. Germain, and his kids, Richard (age 13) and Andréa (age 11), travelling by car was not challenging enough. They decided to tour this 736 kilometre gravel route by bicycle this past summer, making Richard and Andrea the youngest people to ever ride the entire route from Dawson City, Yukon to Inuvik, Northwest Territories crossing two mountain ranges and the Arctic Circle in the process.

Their self-contained journey took them, along with many kilos of food and equipment, approximately 82 kilometres each day along the gravel road for seven to eight hours, sometimes climbing for two to three hours at a time. Their trek started with a bang – four of them actually. Between the three of them they had four flat tires on day one, a few wipeouts and unwelcome encounters with swarms of mosquitoes. Eleven hours after starting, they finally rolled into a campground, exhausted and sore in every way, yet thankful that the sun was still hanging high in the sky. At this time of year it does not set; rather, it just goes around in a circle, barely skimming the horizon at the darkest time of night.

After one day of rest, day three did not bring any relief as they climbed to altitudes of over 1,000 meters. Richard was hit with a stomach ailment, and spent the afternoon dizzy and throwing up. Despite his discomfort, he refused to stop moving forward and to everyone’s relief his energy levels returned the next morning and he was back on the road again.

As each day along the remote route wore on, the trio became stronger and could ride harder – even though their rear ends were getting sorer! “We had long stretches where we saw no other people,” says Richard, “but we did get to know the truck drivers and the few tourists we met along the road.” When they rolled into the lone gas station at the halfway point, all the truck drivers cheered and celebrated by buying dinner for the weary riders.

On their longest day, they rode for nine hours and 17 minutes along 103 km, mostly uphill, carrying a two-day supply of water. Despite the extremes of the intense riding, they continued to encourage each other and stay in good spirits, keeping their eyes on the mountain views around them. “I’m really disappointed we didn’t see any bears...from a distance of course!,” noted Laval. “The kids rode so well, but we couldn’t have out-ridden a bear!”

Ten days later, they had achieved their goal of being the youngest kids to bike the whole Dempster Highway. Exhausted, yet satisfied they returned home to relax and see the rest of their family, including grandma who had promised to give them each 50 cents/km. Not a bad way to cash in from a ride that will stay in their memories forever.


Maintaining Safety

By Laval St. Germain, Chief Pilot Canadian North

Most airline passengers understand the basics of what makes an aircraft fly: Bernoulli’s Theorem (high velocity air = low pressure and low velocity air = high pressure)...okay, maybe not, but at least we all realize it is simple physics that make an airplane fly. There is, however a dedicated maintenance team behind the scenes just as important as Daniel Bernoulli in keeping our fleet airborne.

Canadian North has a very experienced Maintenance Department working out of sight in hangars and in our operations offices keeping our fleet in top condition. As a passenger you rarely see our AMEs (Aircraft Maintenance Engineers), and it’s easy to overlook how critical they are to our airline.

Something to consider: A Boeing 737-200 and a Fokker F-100, for example, have approximately 5 million parts each. Our fleet consists of 8 aircraft or 40 million parts. A small percentage of these parts are ‘controlled’ (they require replacement or inspection after certain time intervals). Our airline operates over a huge geographic area, stretching quite literally from sea to sea to sea, involving thousands of flight hours per year and dozens of airports. Tracking the aircraft flight times, monitoring all the parts mentioned above and scheduling maintenance is a highly complex task.

Our Director of Maintenance, Roger Raddatz, is the guy who ‘conducts’ this complex orchestra. Roger has provided some insight as to what it takes to keep our ‘birds’ in top condition.

Maintaining an airliner is quite different than maintaining your car, the focus in aviation is preventive maintenance – finding problems before they occur. Each aircraft is continually poked and prodded throughout it’s life to ensure safety.

Below in the facts section is what Roger and his team do for a Boeing 737. As you can see, Canadian North maintenance plays a key role in your airline’s safe and efficient operation. Not only does Roger and his team accomplish all of the Transport Canada, Boeing and Fokker mandated maintenance tasks, but they have added certain inspections that exceed what is required by regulations simply due to our area of operations and our operating experience.

Canadian North’s team of maintenance men and women are the airline personnel behind the scenes that you rarely see, but can’t fly without. Roger and his team wish you a pleasant flight.


D.I. (Daily Inspection) – completed daily at a minimum of every 48 calendar hours, as opposed to flight hours. General visual inspection by an AME, focus on tires, engine nacelles, flight controls, fuselage, fluids and various systems checks. Approximate time required to complete: one or two A.M.E.’s 30 minutes to an hour.

“A” Check – completed every 165 flight hours. Includes all items in D.I., with the addition of more detailed inspections and lubricating of systems and components, etc. Approximate time required: two A.M.E.’s and 10 hours.

“B” Check – completed every 750 flight hours. Includes all items in the “A” Check, with the addition of more detailed indepth inspections of flight controls, flaps, A.P.U. etc. Approximate time required: four A.M.E.’s and 10 hours.

“C” Check – completed every 4,000 flight hours or 18 months, whichever occurs first. In-depth inspections of all components and structural zones with additional focus on specific N.D.T. (Non Destructive Testing) which entails testing areas for fatigue using ultrasonics and high and low frequency electrical currents. Approximate time required: a dozen or more AME’s and 30 days.

H.M.V. (Heavy Maintenance Visit) – completed every four years. Near complete disassembly and inspection of entire aircraft, removal of interior, removal of flight controls, removal of avionics plus all items included in a “C” Check. Approximate time required: 60 to 90 days.

C.P.C.P. (Corrosion Prevention Control Program), S.S.I.D. (Supplemental Structural Inspection Document), A.D. (Airworthiness Directives) – All the above acronym-rich items are completed on a continuous basis above and beyond what is contained in the various “A,B,C” and H.M.V. checks.