Hoping For Cold (But Perhaps Not Getting It)
The forecast for Iqaluit calls for the "warm" spell to continue with temperatures in the same range as last week (but with the wind, it feels 20 degrees colder). What impact that will have on the testing isn't clear. Although aircraft routinely experience extreme cold when flying at altitude, circumstances are different on the ground. Airbus' team of 50 technicians need to see how the airplane starts, how the electronics hold up and even how interior components stand up to sitting on the ramp at –30 all night. The tests are part of the certification requirements for the aircraft, which is scheduled to go into service by the end of this year. Iqaluit is a popular destination for cold-seeking aircraft manufacturers, mainly because of its 8,600-foot runway and huge ramp area, all relics of ... the Cold War. Frobisher Bay began as a communications and radar facility during World War II before the air base was built by the U.S. to refuel ferry flights on their way from California factories to Britain. It was home to K-97 tanker aircraft used to refuel nuclear bombers during the Cold War. Airbus does most of its cold-weather work there and about a dozen other manufacturers have also tested aircraft there. Business has picked up considerably since Graham and a delegation of Nunavut officials set up a booth at last year's Paris Air Show to tout Iqaluit's combination of cold weather and aviation amenities.