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With a fleet of 23 aircraft, First Air has been connecting the people of the North for over 65 years and offers cargo, charter and scheduled service to more northern destinations than any other airline. First Air is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Makivik Corporation since 1990, with over 850 employees, of which more than 430 work and live in the North.
With 68 years of flying experience, First Air is the leading airline in Canada’s Arctic, providing scheduled service between 30 northern communities and connections to Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg and Edmonton. First Air transports 225,000 passengers and 25 million kilograms of cargo (most flights carry both freight and passengers) each year.
First Air owns and operates the only two civilian Hercules aircraft in Canada. Gravel and ice strip equipped, the Hercules is suitable for landing “onsite” at mining and exploration locations. The Hercules aircraft can accommodate a wide variety of heavy and oversized cargo, such as helicopters, fire trucks, vehicles, oversize construction equipment and bulk fuel.
The parts and technical data associated with this aircraft are considered a controlled good as mandated in Canada under the Controlled Goods Program, a federal government program within Public Works and Government Services Canada and managed by the Controlled Goods Directorate. “Because the aircraft type is generally used for military purposes, (although First Air is the only airline in Canada that operates the Herc for civilian use), we must comply with the U.S. State Department’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations. First Air must meet all the requirements of the Controlled Goods Program,” said Suzan Park MacLeod, Project Manager Maintenance First Air, Ottawa.
Recently the CGD implemented the Enhanced Security Strategy, resulting in the requirement for all employees under the First Air program to be security assessed. One element of this requires a criminal record check to be performed on employees.
“When I learned that criminal record checks were needed and that it involved fingerprinting, I was concerned that we couldn’t get this done in time,” said Park MacLeod. “With close to 60 employees involved, many working different shifts, and a deadline to meet, it posed a challenge for us. We didn’t want them to take time from their work for this. To have them go individually would be financially and logistically difficult for us to do,” Park MacLeod said.
Park MacLeod received a reference for Commissionaires from an existing designated official, Bill McQuirter, in the Controlled Goods Program. “Bill suggested Commissionaires because they also perform the fingerprinting for the CRC check,” Park MacLeod explained.
Commissionaires are RCMP accredited to capture fingerprints and submit them directly to the Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services for processing. This direct connection reduces the RCMP processing time to as little as 72 hours. Fingerprints are used to obtain a certified criminal record check, which searches a number of databases, including the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC).
“When we found out that Commissionaires offers onsite fingerprinting and that they would take care of submitting them to the RCMP to get the criminal record check done, we were thrilled,” said Park MacLeod.
Across two days, in two separate locations – one at their Ottawa hangar and one at the Kanata head office – close to 60 employees were fingerprinted. All were accommodated according to their shift
“Other companies didn’t offer the extent of services that the Commissionaires do and they made a daunting task very simple,” said Park MacLeod. “We didn’t consider anyone else because Commissionaires offered everything we needed and was an obvious solution. We also knew that the cost was reasonable,” said Park MacLeod.
Park MacLeod said First Air will continue using Commissionaires for any other employees who need fingerprinting as part of the Controlled Goods Program.
“Overall, I was pleased with Commissionaires service and professional staff and how seamless they made the process for us,” said Park MacLeod. “They came onsite and were available within a short timeframe to come to both offices and it was organized so that the results came back to me directly. If I had any follow-up questions, Commissionaires were responsive quickly and made the whole process easy.”