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Alberta's Aviation Heritage
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Supply Line



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Supply Line

Canadian air companies had a great opportunity to supply these stations, and among western companies in position to provide cargo services were Associated Airways Ltd. and Pacific Western Airlines (PWA). But along with the opportunity to provide air support for the northern radar stations came a host of problems. The great demand for air cargo encouraged air service companies to overload their airplanes and carry out very intense schedules. For Associated Aircraft, this practice led to a series of crashes and mishaps that left PWA poised to take a leading role in providing services to the construction of the DEW Line in the fall of 1955.

Another concern for air companies that were set up as suppliers of northern stations was the lack of navigational aids along the flight path. This problem was remedied with the building of non-directional beacons along the route in late 1955 and early 1956.

Associated Airways was purchased by PWA after the airline experienced significant losses and the transfer of a contract to service construction of the DEW Line. The sale did not include Associated Airways’ profitable helicopter division. PWA had also bought Queen Charlotte Airlines in 1954, and was now big enough to profit from the building and maintenance of the DEW Line, earning $23 million from the project. In addition, PWA received $1.8 million for providing services to the Aluminum Company of Canada's (Alcan's) hydroelectric project on the west coast. PWA also generated profits from non-contract transportation services.


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