Radar upgrade
Yk airport to get $6.5-million system

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 27/99) - Nav Canada, which runs the nation's air navigation systems, has announced a big radar upgrade for the Yellowknife airport.

The new $6.5-million system "will provide better air traffic control coverage for flights arriving and departing Yellowknife airport, and will improve service to high-altitude overflights," Nav Canada said.

"These projects are part of Nav Canada's continuing program to focus our investment on the technology and people at the heart of the air navigation service, John Crichton, Nav Canada president and CEO said. Crichton is a former First Air executive.

Crichton also said the upgrade will provide airport staff with better equipment and lower costs and improve service for carriers using airport services.

Arctic Airports director Jim Winsor said the upgrade will "provide better management of air traffic" into and out of Yellowknife and that it has added features for the airport operations like management of aircraft flying over Yellowknife.

Improving service to flights arriving and departing Yellowknife, and to high- altitude overflights, Nav Canada said flying times can be reduced. Reducing flying times should translate to savings for airlines.

The Yellowknife airport's planned upgrade was announced as part of $40 million in capital projects aimed at putting new radar, computer and communications technology into Canada's air navigation service.

A new radar system will also be installed at Kuujjuaq in Northern Quebec. This capital investment of $8 million will expand the control services provided to airlines in Canada's North. With the system, Nav Canada says it will be able to provide more efficient altitude and routings to airline traffic moving between North Atlantic and North American air routes.

The capital spending also involves a new $9.3- million digital voice communications system for towers and flight services stations across Canada and new and updated $11-million radar data processing hardware and software.

As well, Nav Canada will spend $5 million on a new control tower at Kelowna, B.C.

Nav Canada is a non-share capital, private corporation which provides air traffic control, flight information, weather briefings, airport advisory services and electronic aids to navigation.

Recently, the federal government announced $230,350 of funding for safety improvements at the Yellowknife airport.