Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Military Withdraws Bid to Conduct Supersonic Flight Testing in Labrador: Military Withdraws Supersonic Flight Proposal

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Military Withdraws Bid to Conduct Supersonic Flight Testing in Labrador: Military Withdraws Supersonic Flight Proposal

Article excerpt

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - The Defence Department has withdrawn a three-year-old application to conduct supersonic flight training in Labrador.

The province's Environment Department issued a statement Thursday saying the military dropped its request for an environmental assessment, but it did not offer details.

Defence officials did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

There has been no military jet training at Canadian Forces Base Goose Bay since 2006 when Dutch and German aircrew pulled out of the sprawling air base.

The Defence Department first registered its proposal in January 2009, saying it wanted to use an area northwest of the base to conduct high-speed flight training for the Canadian air force and its allies.

The military wanted to conduct 1,250 sorties every year between April to October near Seal Lake, allowing fighter jets to fly at supersonic speeds at an altitude as low as 1,500 metres.

"Flight training activity is the main economic engine in the Goose Bay area," the department said when it first registered for an environmental assessment. "The Department of National Defence is aggressively trying to market the Goose Bay area as a possible venue for this new type of training."

In its application, the military downplayed the impact of sonic booms caused by jets breaking the sound barrier.

"During a typical training mission with multiple aircraft, the individual aircraft may be at supersonic speeds several times; however, each of these events typically last a few seconds and generally takes place at very high altitudes. All supersonic events produce a sonic boom, but the resulting booms may not necessarily be heard or felt on the ground."

In February 2009, the deputy grand chief of the Innu Nation said the practice flights could pose a risk to people and animals in the area.

At the time, Peter Penashue said the federal government should shift the flights to Crown land and away from a broad swath of Innu land. He said there was more than 130,000 square kilometres of available training area -- about the size of England -- including zones well outside the areas identified in an Innu land claim settlement. …

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