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Empire Airlines is a charter and cargo airline based in Coeur d'Alenemarker, Idahomarker, USAmarker. It operates over 120 scheduled and charter cargo flights a day in 18 US states and Canadamarker. Its main base is Coeur d'Alene Airportmarker with a hub at Spokane International Airportmarker.


Empire Airlines was established and started operations in May 1977 in Orofinomarker as a charter company. Originally named Clearwater Flying Service (thus the CFS identifier for its flights), it was purchased by Nick Chenoweth and Vick Walters on April 12. Soon thereafter, a third partner, Mel Spelde joined as a flight instructor. Clearwater Flying Service made a living doing several different things including, fire patrol, transporting outfitters into the backcountry, air ambulance, air pollution monitoring, charters and flight instruction.

On November 1, 1980, Empire Airlines purchased West Aire, Inc. at Coeur d'Alene and expanded business to include aircraft sales and maintenance. In 1981 Empire purchased Executive Aviation in Missoula, Montanamarker and leased Twin Otter aircraft for United States Forest Service smoke jumping contracts. In December 1983 and January 1984, Empire was awarded government contracts to transport people and materiel in Grenadamarker, following the conflict. On January 3, 1984, Empire began passenger service from Coeur d'Alene to Boisemarker, and later added Lewistonmarker as a stop, using Metro Liner aircraft. In the mid-80s, Empire received contracts from several places including, a Colorado ski destination, Hughes Aircraft, and Naval Arctic Research Laboratory. In 1988 Empire signed a FedEx Express contract to fly and maintain Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft out of Portlandmarker and Spokanemarker; Seattlemarker was added in September. In 1989 Empire became a FAR 121 operator after the purchase of Pacific Alaska and two Fairchild F27 aircraft. In August Empire started F27 services for FedEx Express.

In 1990 Empire added more cargo routes and performed its first heavy maintenance check on a Fairchild F27. In 1993, Empire became a sustaining member of CASE (Coordinating Agency for Supplier Evaluation). From October 1993 to May 1994, it operated F27 aircraft in Hawaiimarker on behalf of Mahalo Air, while the latter airline was awaiting its own operating certificate. In 1995, Empire moved corporate offices and ended passenger services, focusing on cargo, maintenance and airline startups. Empire began sending technical reps to Conair during heavy maintenance checks on Fokker F27s. In 1998, Empire started flying and maintaining Shorts SD360 aircraft. Empire entered into a partnership agreement to begin Express Air serving FedEx in Europe.

In 2001, Empire received Repair Station certificate. In 2002, Empire purchased Reliant Logistics as a wholly owned subsidiary. In 2003, The first ATR 42 aircraft arrived in Spokane for cargo conversion. BOD accept Idaho's proposal for new hangar and office at the Coeur d'Alene Airport. In 2004, the first ATR 42 put on Empire's certificate made the first ATR FedEx Feeder revenue flight. Empire moved into new hangar and office building, in Hayden, Idahomarker.


The Empire Airlines fleet includes the following aircraft (at March 2007) :

Incidents and Accidents

  • October 9, 2000: Flight 665, a Cessna 208 Caravan on a VFR cargo flight from Bellinghammarker to Orcas Islandmarker when it crashed on Lummi Islandmarker. The pilot onboard was killed. The cause of the crash was determined to be pilot's flying into adverse weather and not maintaining proper terrain clearance.

  • On 27 January 2009, an ATR-42 cargo plane under contract from FedEx Express crashed on landing at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airportmarker at 04:37 CT. The plane, which had been traveling from Fort Worth Alliance Airportmarker, landed short of the touchdown zone and skidded off the runway amid light freezing rain. There was a small fire on the plane and two crew members were taken to hospital with minor injuries.

External links


  1. CNN: FedEx plane crashes in Texas 27 January 2009

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