Air North, Yukon’s Airline introduces a new breed of aircraft tug
Whitehorse, Yukon – April 1, 2023 – Air North, Yukon’s Airline today announced a new way of towing aircraft between its hangars and the terminal in Whitehorse. Beginning immediately, passengers waiting for their flight will notice something they’ve never seen before: aircraft towed by dog team.
“We’re always open to new ways of thinking and operating,” said Joe Sparling, Air North’s President and CEO. “As longtime sponsors of the Yukon Quest, we’ve seen first-hand how much dogs love to pull. And we realized: there’s a truly northern way we could be towing our planes.”
The airline’s ATR 42 turboprops will be pulled by a team of 12 dogs, while the Boeing 737 jets will be towed by a team of 20. A new kennel facility has been built next to Air North’s operations building, housing the dogs and offering a play and cuddle area for staff to visit the canines between flights.
“The only real hitch is that the dogs are sometimes a little too eager to go,” noted Sparling. “There have been a few times we’ve had to circle around the taxiways a few times because they’ve just wanted to keep running.”
“And there was that one time with the squirrel,” he recounted with a head shake. “I don’t think that little guy was expecting to have a dog team and a 35-ton aircraft coming towards it at a full doggy sprint. To be fair it was a surprise to us too.”
To keep the aircraft moving safely and efficiently, measures have been put into place to ensure the teams are all on their best ‘good dog’ behaviour. They will be overseen by three highly trained ravens, who were eager to learn some new skills and have the opportunity to show the dogs who’s boss. One raven will be perched on each wingtip to watch for obstacles, while one will oversee the operation from overhead.
Sparling was circumspect about the ravens and their participation.
“We’re pretty sure they’re plotting to steal some of the aircraft. We heard them chattering about charging ‘a wing and a beak’ to migrating birds that want to cut their travel time,” explained Sparling. “But we’re pretty sure the lack of opposable thumbs should keep the ravens from getting very far.”
“Besides,” he added. “As long as it still says ‘Air North’ on the fuselage I’m going to make sure the fares are reasonable.”