Wings Magazine

Four Canadian flights diverted in 24 hours

Dec. 30, 2014, Toronto - What was supposed to be a quick, hour-and-a-half flight out of Toronto Island to Washington, D.C., on Sunday morning was a scare for Farah Ahmed and 65 others aboard the Porter Airlines plane.

December 30, 2014  By The Globe and Mail

The 8 a.m. trip was one of three Porter flights diverted on Sunday, two because of smoke in the aircraft. An Air Canada flight on Monday from Calgary to London, England, was diverted to Toronto over a “slight electrical smell.”

Ms. Ahmed said that 30-45 minutes into her flight, passengers felt an “abrupt change in cabin pressure.” That was quickly followed by the smell of smoke, and the sound of an alarm.

“I was sitting in row eight, and clearly the smoke was coming from the front of the plane, from the cockpit area,” she said. “I think everybody noticed that something was clearly wrong.”

“As the smoke was increasing they suggested that we cover our noses and mouths and to breathe through our clothing,” she said. One person asked for an oxygen mask. Ms. Ahmed said the crew told passengers the plane was safe to fly but would land as a precaution. It was diverted to Williamsport, Pa., and passengers waited more than five hours for another one.


A Porter flight from Billy Bishop airport to Sudbury on Sunday evening diverted to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport soon after take-off when the crew detected smoke in the plane, the airline said. The flight crew shut down one of the plane’s two engines, according to standard procedure, and landed safely. The airline says two passengers were seen by medical staff for suspected anxiety, and two flight attendants were examined as a precaution.

Both planes were Dash 8-400s made by Bombardier.

Edward McKeogh of the Canadian Aviation Safety Consultants said Porter handled both situations adequately.

“Where there’s smoke there’s fire,” he said. “Smoke on board can be caused by a number of things. … It could be that somebody had some combustible material in their carry-on, matches that aren’t safety matches could ignite.”

Ms. Ahmed said the airline Porter offered her a $500 transferable voucher on any Porter flight for the next year. She said her requests to know what caused the smoke have not been answered.

A third Porter flight diverted as well on Sunday, this time from Thunder Bay, and landed at Pearson. The captain made the decision “based on an indication received in the cockpit,” a Porter representative said in an e-mailed statement. Porter said this diversion “was not at all related to the circumstances” of the other flight diverted to Pearson due to smoke.

“This is a very unusual situation based on the number of flights successfully operated every day,” Porter stated.

On Monday, an Air Canada flight landed in Toronto “strictly out of an abundance of caution” because of an “electrical smell” in the cabin. The flight from Calgary turned back before Greenland and the 201 passengers changed aircraft in Toronto, Air Canada said.


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