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N.B. island funding its own plane hangar for air ambulance’s return

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The Village of Grand Manan in New Brunswick will build its own airplane hangar to coincide with the return of island-based medevac services this fall.

Construction of the new hangar should be finished by September, when the island’s very own air ambulance is set to begin operations.

Grand Manan has been without an island-based permanent medevac service for close to a year-and-a-half.

“People are still anxious,” says Grand Manan Mayor, Bonnie Morse.

“We still have another three months to go until September, till we know a plane will be here. I think people are just looking forward to having this completed and things being back to some stability.”

In late 2022, policies from Transport Canada announced in 2018 came into effect regulating more rest and less flying time for pilots in a bid to address fatigue. The former on-island based medevac operator Atlantic Charters said it would have to add more pilots in order to comply with the new standards. At that time, Ambulance New Brunswick and Atlantic Charter said they were unable to form an agreement under the revised framework.

Since then, there have been multiple reports of off-island air ambulances being unable to land on Grand Manan because of poor weather.

Last month, two air ambulances were unable to land on Grand Manan to transport a stroke patient off the island. The patient had to wait 12 hours to be transported off the island on a ferry. The 76-year-old women later died in hospital.

Hangar will ‘provide some stability’: Mayor

Morse said it was unique for a small community to own its own plane hangar, but that it would be the benefit of islanders long into the future. The municipality can borrow up to $2 million for the project.

“It ensures down the road, if there is a different service provider, there is a hanger available for them and it’s not owned by a company who might not provide the service anymore,” said Morse. “While it is outside of the realm of a municipality’s responsibility, Grand Manan is in a bit of different situation than a lot of other places. We really felt we needed to be proactive, and this is one of the steps we can take to look after our community in the future.”

Morse said rent from the hangar will also add revenue for the municipality.

Voyageur Aviation has been contracted by Ambulance New Brunswick to provide the island’s on-island medevac service, as previously announced this past winter.

The company said it’s currently preparing a King Air 200 to mirror the province’s existing ambulance planes. 

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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