First Air

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First Air
First Air logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1946
Hubs Yellowknife Airport,
Iqaluit Airport
Rankin Inlet Airport
Frequent-flyer program Aeroplan
Fleet size 17[2][3]
Destinations 35[4]
Headquarters 20 Cope Drive, Kanata, Ontario[5]
Key people Brock Friesen President & CEO
Alexandra Pontbriand VP Finance
Rashwan Domloge VP Maintenance
First Air headquarters

Bradley Air Services Limited, operating as First Air, is an airline headquartered in Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.[5] It operates services to 34 communities in Nunavut, Nunavik, and the Northwest Territories.[4] The majority of its fleet is available for charters worldwide. First Air has assisted in various humanitarian missions such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake, airlifting relief supplies and equipment.[7] Its main base, which includes a large hangar, cargo and maintenance facility, is located at Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport, with hubs at Iqaluit Airport, Rankin Inlet Airport and Yellowknife Airport.[8]


ATR 42 at Cambridge Bay Airport, newer livery

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.[4] Service to Sanikiluaq, Nunavut is provided in partnership with Air Inuit.

In 1995, First Air bought Ptarmigan Airways, and in 1997 it bought Northwest Territorial Airways (also known as NWT Air), both of which were merged into First Air.[9] 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.

First Air is wholly owned by the Inuit people of Quebec through the Makivik Corporation, which purchased the company in 1990.[10][11]

On August 21, 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.[12]

On June 5, 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).[13] 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][citation needed]

In February 2011, First Air and Qikiqtaaluk Corporation (QC) started a new airline named Qikiqtani First Aviation.[14] The new company provides services throughout Nunavut's Qikiqtani Region using First Air’s fleet.[15] Another airline, Sakku First Aviation, was started the same time in partnership with Sakku Investments Corporation in Nunavut's Kivalliq Region.[16]

In December 2011, Scott Bateman, President and CEO, abruptly resigned his position with First Air.[17] Kris Dolinki became President and CEO after Bateman's departure.[6]

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.[18]

In March 2013, First Air/Makivik Corporation announced it had hired Brock Friesen as its new President and CEO.[19]

On April 11, 2014, the Makivik Corporation and Norterra, owners of Canadian North, announced that they were in negotiations to merge the two airlines.[20][21] 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."[22] In October 2014, it was announced the merger would not go through,[23] 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 April 21, 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 is the oldest airline in Canada still operating under its original name.


ATR 42 at Cambridge Bay Airport, older livery
First Air Boeing 767 at Val-d'Or Airport, Quebec
First Air L-382G

First Air operates scheduled services to these domestic destinations in Canada:[4]

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.[24] This was the only scheduled passenger service ever operated to the U.S. by First Air.

Codeshare agreements[edit]

First Air has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:


As of October 2017 the First Air fleet consists of the following aircraft:[2][3]

First Air Fleet
Aircraft No. of Aircraft Variants Notes
Aérospatiale ATR 42 13 300, 320, 500 5 ATR 42-300 series, 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 72 passengers, 1 737-400 passenger only

First Air previously operated the following aircraft types:[30]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • 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.[31][32][33]
  • 23 August 1978, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 C-FQDG of Bradley Air Services was destroyed in Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit), NU.[34]
  • 29 August 1979, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 C-GROW of Bradley Air Services was destroyed in Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit), NU.[35]
  • 15 March 1981, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 C-FDHT of Bradley Air Services sunk through polar ice near Nord, Greenland.[36]
  • 15 September 1988, a Hawker Siddeley HS 748 C-GFFA of Bradley Air Services was destroyed in a crash near Hammond, ON.[37]
  • 12 January 1989, a Hawker Siddeley HS 748 C-GDOV of Bradley Air Services was destroyed in a crash near Dayton, Ohio.[38]
  • 12 August 1996, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 C-GNDN of First Air was destroyed near Markham Bay, NU.[39]
  • 3 December 1998, a Hawker Siddeley HS 748 C-FBNW of Bradley Air Services was damaged beyond repair after landing in Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit), NU.[40]
  • 22 May 2001, a Boeing 737-210C C-GNWI of First Air was damaged beyond repair after landing in Yellowknife, NT.[41]
  • 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 traveled approximately 1,600 ft (490 m) before returning to the runway. There were no injuries.[42]
  • 20 August 2011, Flight 6560, a First Air Boeing 737-200 (C-GNWN)[43] flying a charter flight crashed en route from Yellowknife on final approach to Resolute, killing 12 and injuring 3 others.[44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Transport Canada – Air Traffic Designators – TP 143
  2. ^ a b "Canadian Civil Aircraft Register: Quick Search Result for Bradley Air Services (First Air)". Transport Canada. Retrieved 2017-09-05. 
  3. ^ a b "First Air fleet details" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-09-05. 
  4. ^ a b c d e First Air route map, Destinations
  5. ^ a b "First Air Head Office." First Air. Retrieved on 13 January 2012. "20 Cope Drive Kanata, Ontario Canada, K2M 2V8"
  6. ^ a b "Officers". Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  7. ^ "Northern airline sends planes to Haiti". 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  8. ^ "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 2007-04-03. p. 82. 
  9. ^ "Milestones". Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  10. ^ "First Air". Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  11. ^ "Ownership". Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  12. ^ "First Air fires president Davis". 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  13. ^ "Transport Services Group to Lease 767 to First Air". 2009-03-06. Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  14. ^ "Qikiqtani First Aviation Ltd". Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  15. ^ "Qikiqtaaluk Corporation and First Air sign new airline joint venture agreement". 2011-02-17. Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  16. ^ "Sakku First Aviation Ltd". Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  17. ^ "First Air's president resigns Dec. 14". 2011-12-14. Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  18. ^ Oct 4, 2012 8:25 AM CT (2012-10-04). "First Air not for sale, says Makivik Corp. – North – CBC News". Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  19. ^ "First Air gets a new boss. – North – Nunatsiaq News". Nunatsiaq News. 2013-03-25. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  20. ^ Canadian North, First Air plan 'merger of equals'
  21. ^ Arctic airlines First Air and Canadian North talk merger
  22. ^ Canada’s Northern Airlines Enter Merger Discussions
  23. ^ Airlines announce First Air-Canadian North merger is dead
  24. ^, Feb. 15, 1985; Dec. 15, 1989; Oct. 1, 1991 editions, Official Airline Guide (OAG), Boston-Ottawa schedules
  25. ^ JL (2012-05-04). "First Air and Air Greenland Begin Codeshare". Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  26. ^ First Air, Air North strike codeshare deal for Ottawa, Yellowknife, Whitehorse
  27. ^ Codeshare Agreement
  28. ^ Canadian North, First Air carry out codeshare pact in Nunavut this week
  29. ^ Codeshare kaput: First Air ends flight sharing deal with Canadian North
  30. ^ Canadian Civil Aircraft Register: History Search Result
  31. ^ Accident description for CF-OHD at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-02-15.
  32. ^ Accident description for CF-TVK at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-02-15.
  33. ^ "Otter of the Week". Fly the Bush. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  34. ^ Accident description for C-FQDG at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-02-15.
  35. ^ Accident description for C-GROW at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-02-15.
  36. ^ Accident description for C-FDHT at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-02-15.
  37. ^ Accident description for C-GFFA at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-02-15.
  38. ^ Accident description for C-GDOV at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-02-15.
  39. ^ Accident description for C-GNDN at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-02-15.
  40. ^ Accident description for C-FBNW at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-02-15.
  41. ^ Accident description for C-GNWI at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-02-15.
  42. ^ AVIATION REPORTS – 2004 – A04W0032
  43. ^ First Air 737 Crashes in Northern Canada, Killing 12
  44. ^ Plane crash near Resolute Bay kills 12

External links[edit]