On the two year anniversary of a deadly airplane crash near Fond du Lac, the First Nation’s Chief is lobbying for runway expansion money.
Chief Louis Mercredi was in Ottawa this week to pressure the federal government to fund the project.
“One week after the crash, I came to Ottawa to get improvements at the airport for my community,” said Mercredi. “At the time, a lot of promises were made, now two years later, my airport remains the same.”
There were 25 people on board, including 22 passengers. One of the passengers, 19-year-old Arson Fern Jr., died of his injuries on December 25. Several other passengers suffered serious injuries.
The Transportation Safety Board last December found that West Wind Aviation did not have the proper equipment for sufficient de-icing of their aircraft.
“The runway is the same 3,800 feet long by 75 feet wide as it was when it was built in the 1970s. We need it to be at least 5,000 feet long and 100 feet wide to be safe for our community,” Mercredi explained.
“Last year the Canadian Transportation Safety Board issued recommendations for enhancements in northern aviation as a result of the crash. West Wind has deployed de-icing vehicles and equipment, however the runway is the same. These are short, narrow airfields. Our flight crews must be on their game to carry out operations in the north. While our operation is safe and regulatory compliant, a wider and longer runway with the associated navigation aids would improve our operations into Fond du Lac.” Michael Rodyniuk is the CEO of West Wind Aviation said.
With files from MBC News
(PHOTO: Fond du Lac Denesuline First Nation Chief Louie Mercredi stands in front of a memorial dedicated to the victims of a December 2017 plane crash in the community. Photo by Fraser Needham.)