|Founded||October 18, 1971|
|Ceased operations||March 29, 1996|
|Hubs||Sault Ste Marie, ON (Main Base- Air Dale Ltd.) & Thunder Bay, ON (Bearskin Airlines)|
|Fleet size||2 DHC8-102, 8 DHC6-300|
|Destinations||Kapuskasing, Timmins, North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, Fort Frances, Winnipeg (Manitoba), Hearst, Chapleau, Earlton, Elliot Lake, Geraldton, Gore Bay, Hornepayne, Kirkland Lake, Terrace Bay, Pickle Lake, Red Lake, Kenora, Atikokan, Sioux Lookout, Wawa|
|Parent company||Ontario Northland Transportation Commission|
|Headquarters||North Bay, Ontario|
|Key people||Jim Kigour (ONTC), Bill Davis (Premier)|
NorOntair was a subsidiary of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, a provincial Crown agency of the Government of Ontario (ONTC). The airline was created by the administration of Premier Bill Davis to create east-west links across Northern Ontario.
ONTC's first foray into air services began when it subcontracted flying operations to various airlines including Bradley Air Service (First Air), Austin Airways, Air-Dale Ltd and OnAir (taken over by Bearskin Airlines). Air-Dale Ltd. based in Sault Ste Marie was the airline's main operations base. Two de Havilland Dash 8-102 aircraft and six Dash 6-300 Twin Otters were based in Sault Ste Marie. Two additional Twin Otters were based in Thunder Bay and were operated by Bearskin Airlines crews but painted in full NorOntair colours. In its final years, ONTC bought Air-Dale Ltd and operated all the remaining routes until the service was discontinued.
In 1996, the newly elected administration of Premier Mike Harris moved to close down the airline by removing subsidies.
NorOntair was the first airline in the world to order and take delivery of Bombardier's de Havilland Canada Dash 8 Series 100, on October 23, 1984, operated by Air-Dale Ltd. The first Dash 8 in commercial service anywhere in the world wore NorOntair colours and was registered C-GJCB. This aircraft was number 6 off the assembly line and remained in active service until the closure of the company flying up to 14 hours a day across Northern Ontario. A second Dash 8 joined the fleet shortly after the first and was registered C-GPYD. This second Dash 8 was seriously damaged on approach into Sault Ste Marie one day. Shortly after the company took delivery of the aircraft, it landed hard during a cockpit crew training flight. The hard landing caused the aircraft's landing gear to collapse, causing significant damage to the newly acquired plane. Of particular concern to the airline and to de Havilland Canada at the time was the fact that the crash caused one of the engine's propeller blades to violently break away from the engine housing. The blades penetrated the cabin wall of the aircraft, travelled through Row 2 of the aircraft interior and exited through the other side of the cabin sidewall on the opposite side. Given that the aircraft was on a training flight, no passengers were on board. The flight crew escaped the aircraft without injury. The aircraft was removed from service and, after months of structural repairs and refurbishment, was returned to active service.
The locations served included:
Twin Otter service
- Elliot Lake
- Gore Bay
- Kirkland Lake
- Pickle Lake
- Red Lake
- Sioux Lookout
- Terrace Bay
- "Boeing de Havilland (Canada)". Flight Magazine. Flightglobal. 1989-04-29.