Nfld. & Labrador

Military drops Labrador supersonic training plan

The Canadian military has withdrawn an application to conduct supersonic flight training in Labrador.

Goose Bay airbase needs expensive repairs

A U.S. military aircraft breaks the sound barrier in the skies over the Pacific Ocean. (John Gay/ Wikimedia Commons)

The Canadian military has withdrawn an application to conduct supersonic flight training in Labrador.

Three years ago the Department of National Defence asked for permission from Newfoundland and Labrador's environment minister to fly more than a thousand supersonic training flights over the area. 

The hope was to attract allied air forces that need to practise air-to-air combat over the large open areas.

In its application, DND described the plan as an important element for 5 Wing Goose Bay to remain viable as a training venue.

DND officials have not said why the application was withdrawn from the environmental assessment process.

Since the allied forces left Labrador more than five years ago, the Goose Bay airbase has struggled to attract flights.

Goose Bay no longer a priority

Documents obtained by CBC News two years ago suggest the aging federal airbase in Labrador is no longer considered important by some members of the Canadian military.

"Infrastructure at Goose Bay would be an extremely low priority. Little would be accomplished at Goose Bay and infrastructure reduction measures would have to be taken," wrote Maj. Nanette Fleissen in a February 2009 letter advising senior military officials about airbase repairs.

The internal defence documents show the 5 Wing Goose Bay airbase requires about $128 million worth of work.

The documents say the base's heating system is so outdated that the military can no longer buy replacement parts for it. The replacement cost for that alone would be $40 million.

If the military wants to keep operating it as an airbase for fighter jets, it needs a $20-million resurfacing of the base's second runway.

The letters also show that the ramp area where planes are parked is falling apart and needs $30 million worth of repairs.

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