British Columbia

B.C.-based Orca Airways grounded by feds 'in the interest of public safety'

The federal transportation transportation department has grounded the small B.C. airline Orca Airways, saying the company has repeatedly failed to comply with safety regulations.

Transport Canada cites repeated failures to comply with safety regulations

Orca Airways offers regular flights to Vancouver Island from Vancouver. (Orca Airways)

The federal transportation department has grounded Orca Airways, saying the small B.C. airline has repeatedly failed to comply with safety regulations.

Transport Canada suspended the airline's air operator certificate on Thursday, which means it can no longer provide commercial flights.

"Transport Canada took this enforcement action in the interest of public safety due to Orca Airways' repeated non-compliance with aviation safety regulations," a press release said.

Orca Airways operates routes between Vancouver and Vancouver Island, with regular flights to Tofino, Victoria, Port Alberni and Qualicum Beach.

According to the federal ministry, the airline has failed to meet requirements in areas including maintenance, operational control, documentation and quality assurance.

"Transport Canada will not allow Orca Airways to resume its commercial air service until it proves it can keep its operations consistently compliant with aviation safety regulations," the release said.

Alberta airline steps in

Calgary-based Integra Air says it is now working to take over Orca's operations, something it says had already been in the works for a few months. 

In a news release, Integra said the move by the federal government "should have only a short-term, minor impact on our ability to provide Orca's existing customers and passengers the level of safety, reliability and outstanding customer service they deserve."

This isn't the first time Orca has been in the news because of safety issues.

In 2015, an Orca Airways pilot was fired after he overshot the runway in Tofino and then failed to report the error. The company's CEO didn't learn about the incident for days.

Twelve years ago, another pilot with the airline was killed while trying to land a cargo plane during a winter storm.