Aviation V SI

Aviation V

We have now reached the fifth part of our popular aviation series that celebrates the civil Greenland aviation history. Two of the three stamps in this is- sue deal with aircraft flown by companies whose principal base is outside Greenland. They are, re- spectively, SAS and First Air. The aviation series is scheduled to continue to 2017 when the series will conclude with the publication of a book that brings together all the stamps in this aviation series.

De Havilland Canada DHC7

By Ole Dam, former Area Manager at Grønlandsfly

DHC7 plane, popularly known as ‘Dash-7’, has for more than 30 years been the ‘backbone’ of Greenland’s air transport and has served all airports in West Green- land and Kulusuk, Mestersvig and Nerlerit Inaat in East Greenland. In addition, the Dash-7 operated routes to Iceland and Canada. The aircraft is produced by the Ca- nadian firm DeHavilland of Canada (DHC) which, since World War II, has been known for its production of STOL aircraft to operate from very short runways (STOL = Short Takeoff and Landing). Originally there was gener- ally just minor aircraft but, in 1972, DeHavilland began the development of the Dash-7 aircraft with seating for approximately 50 passengers. In 1978 the first aircraft was ready to be delivered to a company in the USA.

The emergence of this type of aircraft generated in- terest from Grønlandsfly due to the STOL characteris- tics, which led to the establishment of shorter aprons and thus greater opportunities to find suitable sites in Greenland. After the construction of an airport in Nuuk began in 1976, Grønlandsfly ordered two Dash-7 air- craft. The airport opened in late September 1979. Dash- 7 aircraft enabled a higher standard of service on board in the form of a cabin service with the service tailored to stretch the flight time. DHC7-aircraft crew consisted of two pilots and one cabin attendant.

In September 1984 a new airport was opened in Ilulis- sat and, with the growing demand for capacity, a third Dash-7 was delivered in December of the same year. Subsequently Short Track airports were opened in an- other seven cities along the west coast of Greenland, from Qaanaaq in the north to Paamiut in the south, causing a gradual increase in the Dash-7 fleet to a total of six aircraft.

The Dash-7’s became very popular and developed passenger traffic in Greenland with fixed-wing aircraft and quickly became known as a stable and robust aircraft. As the years passed, however, new types of aircraft were developed. In 2011 Air Greenland acquired the first of the new type of aircraft which gradually replaced the Dash-7 which were phased-out and sold. The last three Dash-7 aircraft were sold in early 2015, leaving just the memory of the first ‘real’ aircraft in Greenland’s domes- tic traffic, and of the first aircraft to make air transport the regular means of transport.

SAS Boeing B767-383ER

By Finn Øelund, former Director at Grønlandsfly / Air Greenland

During this same time the company ‘SAS’ also had a fleet of fourteen ’long-haul’ B767 aircraft using the livery from the ‘SAS’ Business Mans Airline.

Jan Carlzon had been tasked to ‘recreate’ ‘SAS’ in a new lasting version and started the Business Mans Airline with this aircraft livery, while creating an or- ganization and culture where the customer was at the center of everything. During this period, depar- ture precision, services on board and at airports were focused upon and the company was awarded once the title ‘Airline of the Year’ from an international travel magazine. Jan Carlzon created an entirely new and reborn airline where employees were very loyal and supported him in all its services.

The ‘Long-haul’ fleet flew from Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen to New York and from Copenhagen to Chicago, Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo, Rio De Janeiro, Los Angeles, Seattle and Kangerlussuaq. The route to Kangerlussuaq shared the aircraft route to Seattle and it was always the same aircraft on both routes.

In wintertime the scheduled route to Kangerlussuaq flew on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and slot- ted around the flight schedules to Seattle. During the summertime these three flight days were supple- mented with flights from other routes, so Kangerlus- suaq also had flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and /or Saturdays. This plane was very well suited for these routes and included Business Class (C-class) seats in the front two booths and Economy Class M-Class) seats in the rear cabin.

At that time, smoking was even allowed in the cen

tral business class cabin and also in the front of the Economy cabin. The aircraft’s large cargo capacity allowed it to include large quantities of fresh vege- tables, milk and the like. From here came the Green- landic concept ”fly fresh vegetables”. The only oth- er transport alternative was the slow shipping and there were many people who then admitted that the most important air freight was perhaps the weekly fresh supply of ”Look and Listen” and ”Billed Bladet” so everyone could follow what was happening in the Danish royal family. The same type of aircraft was also used to supply the base at Thule (Pituffik). This route was flown by charter for the US Airforce once a month and included only personnel and goods to and from the base.

Boeing B727-100

By Ole Dam, former Area Manager at Grønlandsfly

In autumn 1994 collaboration was initiated between the Canadian airline ‘First Air’ and Grønlandsfly re- garding the operation of a route between Ottawa and Kangerlussuaq with a stopover in Iqaluit / Fro- bisher Bay in Canada. There was a so-called pool- route where ‘First Air’ tabled an aircraft to Boeing B727-100 and where the two companies shared the expenses and income. The new route replaced the existing cooperation between the companies on a route between Nuuk and Iqaluit. 

The service was operated with a combined passen- ger and cargo aircraft, which meant a significant increase in both the capacity of both passenger numbers and cargo volumes. As a starting point, the route was operated in a version with 67 seats in the rear part, and the remaining space in the cabin and cargo space was utilized for freight shipments.

The agreement between the two companies con- cluded further that the plane was chartered by Grønlandsfly for a flight between Kangerlussuaq and Pituffik / Thule Air Base after arrival in Kangerlus- suaq. The reason was a need to travel to and from Pituffik for contract staff at the US base residing in Greenland, as well as providing a travel option for transport to and from Qaanaaq via Pituffik for resi- dents of Qaanaaq and in the rest of Greenland.

Cooperation between ‘First Air’ and ‘Air Greenland’ continued unchanged until November 1997 when ‘Air Greenland’ was then granted a license to resume flights between Copenhagen and Narsarsuaq and to operate a route between Copenhagen and Kanger- lussuaq. The flights were carried out with its own aircraft but, as the company at the commencement did not have aircraft or personnel, they accepted the aviation authorities’ decision that the operation for the first six months could be implemented with em- bedded aircraft equipment. ‘Air Greenland’ therefore

chose to expand their cooperation with ‘First Air’ to include flights between Greenland and Denmark. The last flight was a purely passenger flight from Nar- sarsuaq to Copenhagen on 6th May 1998. From 12th May 1998 ‘Air Greenland’ took over the flight with the newly acquired Boeing B757 aircraft, but only on the route between Copenhagen and Kangerlussuaq as the airport in Narsarsuaq was closed due to a re- pair of the runway. The first flight to Narsarsuaq took place on 1st June 1998.

‘First Air’s’ Boeing B727-100 aircraft continued the original plan of operation of the route from Ottawa to Kangerlussuaq, and to Pituffik and return until 2001, when the agreement expired. 

Technical Details

Issue Date: 13.05.2015
Designer: Martin Mörck
Process: Combination
Colours: 4 Colours
Size: 58.00 x 33.00 mm
Values: DKK 1.00, 34.50, 45.00