Bradley Air Services Limited, operating as First Air, was an airline headquartered in Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It operated services to 34 communities in Nunavut, Nunavik, and the Northwest Territories. First Air has assisted in various humanitarian missions such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake, airlifting relief supplies and equipment. Its main base, which included a large hangar, cargo and maintenance facility, was located at Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport, with hubs at Iqaluit Airport, and Yellowknife Airport. On November 1, 2019, the airline consolidated operations with Canadian North.
|AOC #||Canada: 107|
United States: KBJF476F
Rankin Inlet Airport
|Headquarters||20 Cope Drive, Kanata, Ontario|
|Key people||Chris Avery President & CEO|
Alexandra Pontbriand VP Finance
Rashwan Domloge VP Maintenance
VP Flight Operations
The airline was founded by Canadian aviation pioneer Russel (Russ) Bradley and started operations as Bradley Air Services in 1946 and is still registered under that name. First Air started scheduled operations in 1973, between Ottawa and North Bay. This service was operated with an eight-seat passenger plane.
The airline opened southern gateways at Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal and Ottawa. Through Kuujjuaq in Nunavik and Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories (NWT), the airline provides services to 26 Inuit communities in Nunavut, Nunavik and the NWT. Service to Sanikiluaq, Nunavut is provided in partnership with Air Inuit.
In 1995, First Air acquired Ptarmigan Airways, and in 1997 Northwest Territorial Airways (also known as NWT Air), both merged into First Air. Ptarmigan Airways operated smaller turboprop aircraft types such as the Beechcraft King Air (BE-200 model), de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Turbine Beaver, DHC-6 Twin Otter and Grumman Gulfstream I propjets in addition to Cessna Citation business jet aircraft. Northwest Territorial operated Boeing 727-100 and Boeing 737-200 jetliners, Lockheed L-188 Electra propjets, Lockheed L-100 Hercules cargo turboprops and Douglas DC-3s.
On 21 August 2008, First Air fired president Bob Davis and replaced him with Scott Bateman. Davis had been president since December 1997 and had several disagreements with First Air over a period of time.
On 5 June 2009, First Air received a wide-body aircraft, a Boeing 767-223 SF (Super Freighter), which was under a three-year dry lease from (CAM) Cargo Aircraft Management, a subsidiary of Air Transport Services Group (ATSG). The 767 has since left the fleet.
After the introduction of the operationally and logistically more economical Boeing 767-223SF in March 2010, First Air retired and removed its two Boeing 727-233 aircraft from its fleet. One was one of only two combi types in the world, and the last 727-200 in North America on scheduled passenger-freight services. The other 727-233F full freighter has also been phased out. A Hawker Siddeley HS 748 turboprop (C-GFNW) was retired in March 2011. Replacing this aircraft type are two ATR 72 Combi turboprops as part of First Air's fleet replacement program. They are outfitted with a cargo handling system, and one is outfitted with a large cargo door. A first of its kind in North America, it is able to handle built Unit Load Device positions. This in turn will create a larger load capacity and flexibility reaching remote communities. One began service in the last quarter of 2011, and the second in the first quarter 2012.[needs update]
In February 2011, First Air and Qikiqtaaluk Corporation (QC) started a new airline named Qikiqtani First Aviation. The new company provides services throughout Nunavut's Qikiqtani Region using First Air's fleet. Another airline, Sakku First Aviation, was started the same time in partnership with Sakku Investments Corporation in Nunavut's Kivalliq Region.
In October 2012, Dolinki resigned his position as President and CEO of First Air. This announcement came shortly after Makivik Corporation stated that, after many rumours, its stake in First Air was not for sale. The position of President and CEO was filled on an interim basis by Chris Ferris, First Air's Vice President of Marketing & Sales.
In March 2013, First Air/Makivik Corporation announced it had hired Brock Friesen as its new President and CEO.
On 11 April 2014, the Makivik Corporation and Norterra, owners of Canadian North, announced that they were in negotiations to merge the two airlines. According to a website set up the same day the new airline would be owned equally between the two companies and "a merger would create a stronger, more sustainable business, provide better service to customers and lead to new economic development opportunities across the North - "We believe the two companies would complement each other’s strengths." In October 2014, it was announced the merger would not go through, but First Air would still codeshare some flights with Canadian North.
In early 2015 First Air announced strategic agreements with Cargojet Airways and Summit Air. The 767 lease was transferred to Cargojet at that time and First Air is now providing ATR Turboprop services to Cargojet.
On 21 April 2015, First Air Hercules C-GUSI flew the final civilian L382 flight in Canada, bringing to an end over 45 years of commercial Lockheed Hercules service. L382 Hercules operations in Northern Canada were begun during the 1960s by Pacific Western Airlines.
In 2016, First Air/Bradley Air Services became the oldest airline in Canada still operating under its original name.
On 28 September 2018, Makivik Corporation and the Inuvialuit Corporate Group (ICG) signed a definitive agreement to merge Canadian North and First Air, awaiting government approval. The new airline would use the new First Air livery, but would operate under the name "Canadian North". On 19 June 2019, the federal government gave approval to the merger provided several terms and conditions were met.
On 1 November 2019, First Air and Canadian North completed the merger and combined schedules. Operations are now under the Canadian North name using the First Air branding. However, full integration is expected to take 12 to 18 months.
First Air operates scheduled services to these domestic destinations in Canada:
According to the Official Airline Guide (OAG), First Air operated scheduled passenger service from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s nonstop between Ottawa (YOW) and Boston (BOS) primarily with Hawker Siddeley HS 748 turboprops but also with Boeing 727-100 Combi jetliners as well. This was the only scheduled passenger service ever operated to the U.S. by First Air.
First Air has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:
|Aircraft||No. of aircraft||Variants||Notes|
|Aérospatiale ATR 42||13||300, 320, 500||5 ATR 42-300 series and 2 ATR 42-320 series combi aircraft, ice/gravel runway capable, 6 ATR 42-500, passenger only|
|Boeing 737||4||400, 400C||3 400C combi aircraft 78 passengers, 1 737-400 passenger only with 156 seats|
First Air previously operated the following aircraft types:
Accidents and incidentsEdit
- 28 January 1974, a Douglas C-47B CF-TVK, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 CF-DIJ, and de Havilland Canada DHC-3 CF-OHD of Bradley Air Services were destroyed in a hangar fire at Carp Airport, Ottawa.
- 23 August 1978, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 C-FQDG of Bradley Air Services was destroyed in Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit), Northwest Territories.
- 29 August 1979, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 C-GROW of Bradley Air Services was destroyed in Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit), Northwest Territories.
- 15 March 1981, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 C-FDHT of Bradley Air Services sunk through polar ice near Nord, Greenland.
- 15 September 1988, a Hawker Siddeley HS 748 C-GFFA of Bradley Air Services was destroyed in a crash near Hammond, Ontario.
- 12 January 1989, a Hawker Siddeley HS 748 C-GDOV of Bradley Air Services was destroyed in a crash near Dayton, Ohio.
- 12 August 1996, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 C-GNDN of First Air was destroyed near Markham Bay, Northwest Territories.
- 3 December 1998, a Hawker Siddeley HS 748 C-FBNW of Bradley Air Services was damaged beyond repair while attempting take-off at Iqaluit, Northwest Territories.
- 22 May 2001, a Boeing 737-210C C-GNWI of First Air was damaged beyond repair after landing in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
- 25 February 2004, a First Air Boeing 737-200 (C-GNWN) returning to Edmonton as a ferry flight from Lupin Mine landed beside the runway and travelled approximately 1,600 ft (490 m) before returning to the runway. There were no injuries.
- 20 August 2011, Flight 6560, a First Air Boeing 737-210C (C-GNWN) flying a charter flight crashed en route from Yellowknife on final approach to Resolute, killing 12 and injuring 3 others.
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- Group, Inuvialuit Corporate. "New milestone agreement reached to merge First Air and Canadian North to better serve Pan-Arctic communities". www.newswire.ca.
- Federal government approves Canadian North and First Air merger
- Our History
- Welcome aboard your NEW Canadian North
- Departedflights.com, 15 February 1985; 15 December 1989; 1 October 1991 editions, Official Airline Guide (OAG), Boston-Ottawa schedules
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- Accident description for CF-OHD at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 15 February 2016.
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- Accident description for C-FDHT at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 15 February 2016.
- Accident description for C-GFFA at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 15 February 2016.
- Accident description for C-GDOV at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 15 February 2016.
- Accident description for C-GNDN at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 15 February 2016.
- Accident description for C-FBNW at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 15 February 2016.
- Accident description for C-GNWI at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 15 February 2016.
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- "First Air 737 Crashes in Northern Canada, Killing 12 - NYCAviation". 20 August 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
- "Plane crash near Resolute Bay kills 12". Retrieved 2 January 2018.
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