The deadly plane crash near Resolute Bay has highlighted the need for a northern search and rescue service, said an official with First Air.

The Canadian military was in the High Arctic for a training exercise called Operation Nanook, part of which was to include a simulated search and rescue for a downed aircraft, when First Air flight 6540 crashed near Resolute Bay on Aug. 20, killing 12 people.

The military were able to reach the three survivors of the crash in a timely fashion but Scott Bateman, chief executive officer of First Air, said had the military not already been on site, the survivors could have waited hours for help to arrive via the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre based in Trenton, Ont.

He added if the government wants to invest in the expansion and development of the north, it will have to develop infrastructure for emergency response.

"There's any number of projects that — by northern standards — will be mega projects in the north, and frankly, to rely on Trenton or some [service] in the south, will seriously impact our ability going forward," he said.