Gander International Airport
|Operator||Gander International Airport Authority|
|Serves||Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador|
|Time zone||NST (UTC03:30)|
|Summer (DST)||NDT (UTC02:30)|
|Elevation AMSL||496 ft / 151 m|
Transport Canada airport diagram
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.
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 1949 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 RAF Ferry Command and Air Transport 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 through the changeover to the 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. The Canadian federal government changed the name to Gander Airport after Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949. It opened the current passenger terminal in 1959.
On 16 September 1945 the first transatlantic proving flight, a Pan Am DC-4, departed Gander for Shannon in western Ireland. On 24 October 1945, the first scheduled commercial flight, an American Overseas Airlines DC-4, passed through Gander.
Following Newfoundland's entry into Confederation, the government renamed the airport Gander International 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 transatlantic flights to Scotland, Ireland, and beyond, and continued in this role through the early 1960s and in some cases into the 1990s. Carriers at Gander during this era included:
Runway 04/22 was extended from 8,400 to 10,500 ft (2,560 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 at least one of these air traffic controls.
Some commercial transatlantic flights still use Gander as a refuelling stop; most notably, some American legacy carriers (United Airlines and Delta Air Lines in particular) who use the Boeing 757 to connect smaller European cities with their major US hubs. The 757 is particularly affected in this respect, as it was not an aircraft intended or designed for transatlantic flights. This practice has been controversial, since strong headwinds over the Atlantic Ocean during the winter months can result in the flights being declared "minimum fuel", forcing a refuelling stop at Gander in order to safely complete their journey.
During the Cold War, Gander was notable for the number of persons from the former Warsaw Pact nations who defected there (including Soviet chess player and pianist Igor Vasilyevich Ivanov, Cuban Olympic swimmer Rafael Polinario, and the Vietnamese woman famously photographed as a naked girl 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.
On December 12, 1985, Gander was the site of the Arrow Air Flight 1285 disaster, in which a McDonnell Douglas DC-8 with 256 on board crashed during takeoff, probably due to atmospheric icing; there were no survivors. The crash was, and remains, as of March 2019[update], the deadliest airplane accident on Canadian soil.
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 its ability to handle large aircraft, and because Transport Canada and Nav Canada instructed pilots coming from Europe to avoid the airports in major urban centres of Central Canada, like Toronto Pearson International Airport and Montréal-Dorval. The reception these travellers received in the central Newfoundland communities near the airport has been one of the most widely reported happy stories surrounding that day, and was dramatized in the musical Come from Away.
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 of that fleet with a city name from 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. 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 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.
Early in 2016 it was revealed that Gander Airport would be losing WestJet Encore flights with service to Halifax International Airport, to Deer Lake Regional Airport due to low passenger numbers for the Q-400 operated flights, but however reinstated its flight in May 2017 and as well dropped its mainline flight to Toronto.
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 comprehensive rehabilitation project completed in September 2012.
The airport's runway 03/21 was designated as an emergency landing runway for NASA's Space Shuttle orbiter. The airport is also an important emergency landing runway for large aircraft in transatlantic operation in the ETOPS system, which requires aircraft to always have less than a certain distance from a suitable landing site. For many two-engine aircraft this is two or three hours with malfunction in one engine.
Gander Airport Safety and Airside Operations is responsible for fire and rescue operations using three vehicles at their station within the airport. It also has a mutual aid agreement with the Town of Gander Fire Department to provide additional fire fighting services. The airport fire crew is a mix of full-time and volunteers with total crew of 14.
|Air Canada Express|| Goose Bay, Halifax, St. John's, Wabush |
|Exploits Valley Air||Fogo|
|Miami Air International||Charter: Miami|
|PAL Airlines||Churchill Falls, Goose Bay, St. John's, Wabush|
|Sunwing Airlines||Seasonal: Toronto-Pearson, Varadero|
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.
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