Gander International Airport
|Gander International Airport|
|IATA: YQX – ICAO: CYQX
– WMO: 71803
|Operator||Gander International Airport Authority|
|Time zone||NST (UTC−03:30)|
|• Summer (DST)||NDT (UTC−02:30)|
|Elevation AMSL||496 ft / 151 m|
Transport Canada airport diagram
|Newfoundland and Labrador|
|Sources: Canada Flight Supplement
Movements from Statistics Canada
Gander International Airport (IATA: YQX, ICAO: CYQX) is located in Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and is operated by the Gander International Airport Authority. Canadian Forces Base Gander shares the airfield but is a separate entity from the airport.
Early years and prominence
Construction of the airport began in 1936 and it was opened in 1938, with its first landing on January 11 of that year, by Captain Douglas Fraser flying a Fox Moth of Imperial Airways. Within a few years it had four runways and was the largest airport in the world. Its official name until 1941 was Newfoundland Airport.
In 1940, the operation of the Newfoundland Airport was assigned by the Dominion of Newfoundland to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and it was renamed RCAF Station Gander in 1941. The airfield was heavily used by Ferry Command for transporting newly built aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean to the European Theatre, as well as for staging operational anti-submarine patrols dedicated to hunting U-boats in the northwest Atlantic. Thousands of aircraft flown by the United States Army Air Corps/United States Army Air Forces and the RCAF destined for the European Theatre travelled through Gander.
The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) also established Naval Radio Station Gander at the airfield, using the station as a listening post to detect the transmissions and location of enemy submarines and warships.
Following the war, the RCAF handed operation of the airfield back to the dominion government in March 1946, although the RCN's radio station remained and the military role for the entire facility was upgraded through the Cold War.
Transatlantic refueling stop
Following Newfoundland's entry into Confederation, the government renamed the airport Gander Airport and it came under the administration of Canada's federal Department of Transport. Numerous improvements were made to the runways and terminals.
Gander is near the great circle route between cities of the U.S. East Coast and London. Starting in the 1940s it was a refueling stop for piston-engined airliner transatlantic flights to Scotland, Ireland and beyond; the fuel-inefficient jet aircraft of the early 1960s used it too. Early jets of airlines such as Trans-Canada Air Lines (later Air Canada), British Overseas Airways Corporation (later British Airways), and Pan American World Airways made Gander their main refueling point.
Runway 04/22 was extended from 8,400 to 10,500 ft (2,600 to 3,200 m) in 1971.
With the advent of jets with longer range in the 1960s most flights no longer needed to refuel. Gander has decreased in importance, but it remains the home of Gander Control, one of the two air traffic controls (the other being Shanwick Oceanic Control in western Ireland) which direct the high-level airways of the North Atlantic. Most aircraft travelling to and from Europe or North America must talk to either or both of these air traffic controls (ATC).
During the Cold War Gander was notable for the number of persons from the former Warsaw Pact nations who defected there (including Soviet concert pianist Igor Vasilyevich Ivanov, Cuban Olympic swimmer Rafael Polinario and the Vietnamese woman famously photographed fleeing a napalmed village, Phan Thi Kim Phuc). It was one of the few refueling points where airplanes could stop en route from eastern Europe or the Soviet Union to Cuba.
In late-1985, Gander was the site of the Arrow Air Flight 1285 disaster, in which a McDonnell Douglas DC-8 with 256 people on board crashed during takeoff due to atmospheric icing; there were no survivors. The crash was and remains to date the deadliest airplane accident on Canadian soil.
Operation Yellow Ribbon
On September 11, 2001, with United States airspace closed due to the terrorist attacks, Gander International played host to 38 airliners, totaling 6,122 passengers and 473 crew, as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon. Gander International received more flights than any other Canadian airport involved in the operation apart from Halifax. The 6,595 passengers and crew accounted for the third highest total of passengers that landed at a Canadian airport involved in the operation, behind Vancouver and Halifax.
A major reason that Gander received so much traffic was partly due to its ability to handle large aircraft, but primarily because Transport Canada and Nav Canada instructed pilots coming from Europe to avoid the airports in major urban centres of Central Canada, like Lester B. Pearson in Toronto and Montréal-Dorval. The reception these travelers received in the central Newfoundland communities near the airport has been one of the most widely reported happy stories surrounding that day.
To honour the people of Gander and Halifax for their support during the operation, Lufthansa named a new Airbus A340-300 "Gander/Halifax" on May 16, 2002. That airplane is listed with the registration D-AIFC, and was the first aircraft in the whole fleet with a city name outside of Germany.
The airport was the site for Canada's memorial service to mark the first anniversary of the attack, over which Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, Transport Minister David Collenette, US Ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci, and provincial and local officials presided. 2,500 of the 6,600 people that were diverted there the year before also attended the ceremony.
Officials at Gander International Airport have stated that the future for the airport is grim unless the federal government provides funding to cover costs. Currently over 50% of all aircraft operating from the air field are military, and do not pay landing fees. However, domestic passenger traffic increased by over seven percent in 2006, while weekly cargo flights from Iceland show some promise of expansion.
In April 2014, Gander Airport Authority decided on plans to abandon the existing terminal building due to high operating costs and replace it with a new terminal a quarter of the size. The fate of the old building is still uncertain. The terminal, which was built in the 1950s and has drawn continuing worldwide interest for its modernist design, has been recognized by other Canadian institutions as a valuable piece of heritage architecture and has many of its original furnishings and fixtures still intact.
Currently, Gander has two active runways: runway 13/31 which is 8,900 ft × 200 ft (2,713 m × 61 m), and runway 03/21 (changed from 04/22 in August 2004) which measures 10,500 ft × 200 ft (3,200 m × 61 m) and undergone a $10 million a comprehensive rehabilitation project completed in September 2012.
The airport's runway 03/21 was also designated as an emergency landing runway for the Space Shuttle.
Airlines and destinations
|Air Canada||Seasonal: Toronto-Pearson |
|Air Canada Express||Goose Bay, Halifax, St. John's, Wabush|
|Exploits Valley Air Services||Seasonal: Goose Bay, Iqaluit|
|Sunwing Airlines||Seasonal charter: Punta Cana, Toronto-Pearson|
Fixed base operators (FBOs)
- Allied Aviation
- Woodward Aviation
- Gander Aviation
- Irving Aviation Services
- Shell Aviation
- GFT Aviation Services
- Woodward's Oil Limited
Accident and incident
Since the airport's founding in 1938 and through the course of World War II and subsequent beginnings of transoceanic air travel, there have been dozens of crashes around Gander of fighters, bombers, freighters, sea planes, radar aircraft, civilian airliners and private craft.
On December 12, 1985 Arrow Air Flight 1285 crashed on take-off from, the then runway 22. The disaster claimed the lives of 8 crew and 248 soldiers from the United States Army's 101st Airborne Division who were returning home for Christmas from a peacekeeping deployment in the Middle East. The impact on the south side of the Trans-Canada Highway on the shore of Gander Lake left a charred clearing in the forest where a memorial now stands to those who lost their lives in Canada's most deadly air crash.
- Airport Divestiture Status Report
- Canada Flight Supplement. Effective 0901Z 24 July 2014 to 0901Z 18 September 2014
- Synoptic/Metstat Station Information
- Total aircraft movements by class of operation — NAV CANADA towers
- Aviation Daily 21 May 1971 p117, 8 Nov 1971 p47
- Delaware, Andrew. "Real Athlete: Olympic Swimmer & Water Polo Player Rafael Polinario". RealJock.com. Retrieved 2009-12-17.
- Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
- "NAV CANADA and the 9/11 Crisis". NAV CANADA. 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-19.
- D-AIFC at airliners.net
- Gander airport warns it could close without Ottawa's help
- "Gander airport to be traded-in for new terminal". CBC News. April 29, 2014.
- "Air Canada announces Gander-Toronto non-stop flights" (Press release). Air Canada. 2011-02-08. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gander International Airport.|
- Gander International Airport
- Tales of Gander hospitality on September 11 (snopes.com)
- Past three hours METARs, SPECI and current TAFs for Gander International Airport from Nav Canada as available.
- Accident history for Gander International Airport at Aviation Safety Network
- NBC News feature featuring Tom Brokaw: "A Tribute to Gander, Newfoundland ", February 27, 2010
- New York Times travel article. Gollner, Adam. "Gander Airport: When the Going Was Good", 20 March 2005