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HS 748 at Iqaluit. High operating costs and recent fuel price fluctuations create an incentive for the airline to replace the Hawker in the Baffin region as soon as economically feasible.

ATR42s on the flight line at Yellowknife. The aircraft is certified to –54°C.

Loading in Yellowknife.

Seat bags allow First Air to carry light freight, such as mail, in passenger compartments–shown here with a part load. In flight, the cargo is covered and secured for safety. The seat bags, more properly called Bennett Seat Converters, were produced by John’s Aircraft and Upholstery Service in Palmyra, West Australia.

VP Don Orr and Mechanical Designer Phil Lee inspect the new cockpit door required for security. Originally designed for the Dash 8 and adapted for use on the ATR, it will protect the crew against intrusion and withstand impacts from 9 mm and .44 calibre weapons.

Heavy Maintenance Supervisor Peter Bryant checks the Halon bottles located beneath the floor of the passenger compartment. The 33-pound bottles provide enough chemical to knock down a cargo compartment fire and suppress it for 63 minutes. The cargo cabin is kept at a slightly negative pressure in flight, which helps ensure that smoke is contained. Air from the cargo area is drawn through a small hole near the front and underneath the sealed floor to outflow valves at the rear of the aircraft. The fire suppression system was designed in co-operation with Kidde Aerospace of North Carolina.

Peter Bryant signals the spool up of C-FIQU’s second engine before departure from First Air’s Carp, Ontario maintenance base west of Ottawa. First Air schedules conversions with heavy maintenance checks, and the process takes approximately 30 days. The airline is getting more proficient as its experience grows. This third aircraft was the first “production set” conversion and was completed in half the person-hours of the earlier aircraft.

First Air uses underwing pressure fueling. A rear cargo compartment can be accessed through a door located in the galley area opposite the passenger door.

Unloading freight at Kugluktuk. Except during the short shipping season, airlines like First Air carry all the staples and supplies required in northern communities. The ATR42-300 combi variant allows cargo and passenger requirements to be met by a single aircraft type.

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