A shared approach to airport safety in Nunavut

Across the vast northern region of Nunavut, Winnipeg Airports Authority’s subsidiary Winnipeg Airport Services Corp. is serving the territory on a daily basis well beyond managing the transportation hub of Iqaluit International Airport.

Through its subsidiary WASCO North, WASCO is entering its fourth year of partnering with the Government of Nunavut Airports Division to provide aviation services at 24 northern airports. Each one plays an integral role in serving its community, as air service is often the main, if not the only, form of transportation available to deliver essential goods and services as well as provide access in and out.

The contract, which began in 2017, has been renewed on an annual basis to appoint WASCO in delivering safety management systems and quality assurance programs across the region. This commitment spans 2,200 kilometres north to south from Grise Fiord to Sanikiluaq and approximately the same distance east to west from Kugluktuk to Qikiqtarjuaq. The partner-based approach initially came to life in collaboration with Transport Canada to support Nunavut’s airports in meeting all regulatory requirements.

“The Nunavut Airports Division partnership is one we are extremely proud of as we’ve been able to see our collaborative programs and services create a positive impact in more than two dozen airports, each one different than the next,” said Michael O’Gorman, Managing Director of WASCO. “It is about creating a more efficient, stronger and safer environment together in the industry, as opposed to creating systems independently to achieve the same result.”

When it comes to operating an airport, there are many complex processes to follow and factors to consider, such as maintaining critical infrastructure and reporting potential safety hazards to monitoring weather and wildlife patterns. By partnering with WASCO, the Nunavut Airports Division gained a cost-effective solution to help overcome staffing challenges and simplify daily operations to produce a safer environment. Over the past four years, this contract evolved from a need to ensure safety to a portfolio filled with examples of best practices in the industry.

For safety management services, WASCO North coordinators remotely administer and manage data for all 24 airports on a daily basis to help ensure safety. As for quality assurance programs, this technical service is conducted on-site at select airports each year to confirm regulatory standards are being met in all areas. These two services have contributed to enhanced airport operations in a number of ways, including streamlining daily recording practices, digitalizing reporting systems, developing helpful standardized templates, simulating emergency exercises and reducing the number of outstanding hazard reports by more than 90 per cent since 2016.

While these advancements took time and teamwork, they relied upon the foundational concept of sharing information and resources to achieve the greatest result. WASCO’s knowledge, expertise and partnership approach led to the development of these beneficial processes, which can be seamlessly implemented into any airport setting to benefit the region they serve. 

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