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Brushing up the Rankin runway
New equipment should take a bite out of flight cancellations

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Those in charge of maintaining the runway at the Rankin Inlet airport are about to have their lives made considerably easier in the not-too-distant future.

NNSL photo/graphic

A crew works to keep the runway ice free for inbound flights in Rankin Inlet on Nov. 25. - Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

Economic Development and Transportation in Rankin, Nunavut Airports Division, has been approved for a project budget in the vicinity of $1 million for the purchase of a multi-tasking snow-clearing unit to better manage Rankin's runway.

The clearing unit will consist of a 400 HP truck chassis equipped with a 20-foot reversible plow, and an under-chassis body-scraper blade with a high speed, high performance towed 475 HP runway sweeper.

Nunavut Airports Division equipment superintendent Chadd Burrill said when the apron expansion and new taxiway were completed in Rankin, it was generally known, right then and there, the airport didn't have the necessary equipment to maintain those services.

He said from October of 2014 to June of 2016, the Rankin airport had 88 flights cancelled due to runway conditions being too poor for them to land, and an additional 33 flights delayed due to poor runway conditions.

"That's 121 flights affected in total and that's 121 too many," said Burrill.

"We're going through the motions knowing our budget for capital equipment isn't big - it's a very small number when you have 24 airports to work with - so we really threw it out there through substantiation sheets why Rankin needed this unit.

"The project budget gets approved, so we're finally upping the ante to the point where we're getting the same type of equipment used at international airports for rapid snow removal."

Burrill said aircraft movements are being increased on a yearly basis in Rankin.

He said Rankin has 14,607 annual flights, which is 1217 monthly movements.

"We need the right equipment to keep these surfaces open for our aircraft to come in and out.

"Rankin is our regional transportation hub.

"So, far from just benefitting Rankin, it's going to benefit our entire region."

Burrill said having technicians come to conduct training is all part of the package deal.

He said if all goes according to plan, the new equipment should be on the ground in Rankin within the year.

"It went out to tender on Nov. 25 and, if everything goes as smooth as I worked it out to, it will close on Dec. 12, with delivery to the port of St. Catharines being no later than Aug. 15, 2017.

"We're looking for it to arrive in Rankin by October of 2017, with the technicians spending a good week here to do the training on each component.

"They'll take each of our five maintainers individually to ensure they know every nook and cranny and how everything moves.

"There's a lot of technology involved in this equipment, so it's not a matter of getting it here and there you go, learn on your own.

"I want to make sure the guys are trained 100 per cent before it's operational, because if this equipment reduces the number of cancelled flights due to poor runway conditions by 50 per cent, it will more than pay for itself in the long haul."

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