Operations, Audits, Training, and Emergency Exercises for Remote Airports in Saskatchewan
Tetra Tech provides technical support services and training to ensure that six airports that service remote communities in northern Saskatchewan continue to operate safely.
The Province of Saskatchewan operates six certified airports with scheduled air services for passengers in remote northern communities, many of which have no permanent roads and rely on access by air and seasonal access by ice road or boat. The settlements, which range in size from 1,500 to 2,500 residents, include Uranium City and the First Nation communities of Stony Rapids (Black Lake Denesuline First Nation), Wollaston Lake (Wollaston Lake & Hatchet Lake First Nations), Fond du Lac (Fond du Lac Denesuline First Nation), Buffalo Narrows (Buffalo River Dene & Birch Narrows First Nations) and Meadow Lake (Flying Dust First Nation & Meadow Lake Tribal Council).
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure (SMHI) selected Tetra Tech to provide safety management systems (SMS) development and audit services to ensure these remote airports comply with federal regulations and operate safely. Tetra Tech has provided significant training to management and staff at the airports, including First Nations contractors and provincial employees from First Nations communities, and has designed and supervised live and table-top emergency exercises annually at each of the airports.
Our team developed and delivered targeted training programs to management and staff at these airports on topics including human and organizational factors; SMS, from policies and performance measurement to safety risk management and quality assurance; and incident command systems (ICS). Tetra Tech facilitates the annual review process with management and staff for each airport, examining the previous year’s events, progress toward achieving safety goals, and the airport’s safety risk profile and setting objectives and goals for the coming year.
Tetra Tech conducted compliance and quality assurance audits at the airports to ensure ongoing regulatory compliance, process and procedural compliance, the effectiveness of these processes and procedures to meet airport regulatory requirements, as well as the quality assurance goals of each airport’s SMS. Our team completed audits in 2014 and 2017 in compliance with Canadian Aviation Regulations, which require comprehensive audits be conducted every three years.
Tetra Tech also is responsible for designing, facilitating, and evaluating annual emergency exercises at all six airports. Every four years, our team designs and organizes a live emergency exercise that includes responding agencies in each community (fire, ambulance and medical, police, and municipality and First Nations Band). Tetra Tech conducts post-exercises debriefing sessions, and those records are used to amend and improve the emergency response plan for each airport. In each of the years between live emergency exercises, Tetra Tech designs and coordinates tabletop emergency exercises for each airport. These exercises are held by teleconference, organized and facilitated by Tetra Tech.
Since Tetra Tech began the planning, training, and review programs, the safety records at all six airports have been exemplary. Training provided has improved the safety culture at the airports, helped management and staff be better prepared for operational challenges and emergencies, and significantly increased skill levels among First Nation representatives. No airport operations and maintenance-related aircraft incidents or accidents have occurred at these airports during the time that Tetra Tech has been their trusted advisor.
Tetra Tech-provided planning, training, and review programs, paired with comprehensive training from SMHI, ensures that those responsible for operating and maintaining the airports are prepared to ensure the reliability of the facilities to serve all residents’ transportation needs. Tetra Tech has built excellent working relationships with local First Nations through the various training programs. Tetra Tech will continue to provide these services at the six airports through 2019.