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Council helps enhance aviation in Saskatchewan

Nov. 7, 2014, Saskatoon - It’s been 25 years since a small group of aviators founded the Saskatchewan Aviation Council (SAC) to give them a unified voice in addressing areas of concern in the transportation industry.


November 7, 2014
By The Star Phoenix

“We had to have a voice, and the only way to get that voice was to combine (forces),” says Janet Keim, SAC president and one of its founding members.

They tackled everything from safety issues to advocating for needed improvements of northern airports.

Keim, former president and owner of Mitchinson Flying Service, said the original founders thought that aviators working together under SAC would have more credibility and a better chance of promoting and enhancing aviation in the province.

The partners in SAC have grown over the years and now include operators, airports, pilots, aircraft maintenance, Transport Canada, the provincial government, Nav Canada, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, to name but some.

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Keim said the council has been part of a number of significant contributions to Saskatchewan aviation, including the Community Airport Partnership Program.

The council, working with the government, designed, implemented and continues to administer the program that over the past eight years has invested $9 million to improve infrastructure at 33 community and regional airports in the province.

“They are safety related improvements — better lighting, runway improvements, better approaches,” she said. “And every year it is vastly oversubscribed.”

“But as important as the money that’s being spent, it has really brought an awareness to communities of just how important their airport is,” she said. “It is part of the community’s infrastructure.”

Another major contribution has been in helping SIAST create the commercial pilot program.

“It was the council working really closely with SIAST (now Saskatchewan Polytechnic),” Keim said. “And it continues to produce well trained, knowledgeable entry-level commercial pilots to Saskatchewan-based operators.”

This week SAC hosted its 25th anniversary celebrations with the 2014 Wings of Saskatchewan Conference & Trade Show held at the Delta Bessborough.

Yet Keim said there are plenty of issues that need to be addressed in the future, especially on a national level. She said Transport Canada keeps putting out regulations without the needed consultations.

Lately they seem to come out of the blue with these regulations with very little consultation, and if SAC wants a voice at the table “we have to work with the other aviation associations across Canada.”

“On these big issues you have to get together or it has the potential to cripple the industry,” she said.