Entries in Air Canada (5)


Passenger Planes Helpful in Locating Missing Yachtsman in Australia

Norm Betts/Bloomberg News(SYDNEY) -- Passengers on an Air Canada flight to Australia joined in helping an Air New Zealand Airbus in the search for a stranded yachtsman off the Australian coast.  

Both jets flew at a lower altitude as the pilots asked passengers over the PA system to look out their windows when they spotted the solo yachtsman, who was low on fuel and had a broken mast, the Telegraph reports.

Captain Andrew Robertson is Air Canada's fifth-most senior pilot and has been with the company since 1973. He said the search for the missing yachtsman was the first time he had been involved in this kind of event, The Australian reports. He added the exercise lengthened the flight traveling from Vancouver to Sydney by about 40 minutes.

The yachtsman, a 44-year-old from Queensland, was found alive and without injury, an Australian police official told the Telegraph.  

Australian Police later picked up the yachtsman and transported him to safety.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Needle Found in Sandwich on Air Canada Flight

Norm Betts/Bloomberg News (file photo)(TORONTO) -- An Air Canada passenger found what appears to be a sewing needle inside a pre-prepared sandwich while on a flight Monday from Victoria, British Columbia, to Toronto, officials said.

A full investigation is now underway, according to the airline.  Air Canada has contacted the caterers who prepare the meals, but has refused to release the name of the company.

The airline is cooperating with police investigating the matter, Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.  Safety is a top priority, he said, adding that Air Canada is working with the food company to ensure that heightened security measures are put in place.

The incident comes less than two weeks after two passengers suffered minor injuries from needles found in the meat of sandwiches served aboard four Delta Air Lines flights from Amsterdam to the United States.

It is not clear if there is any connection between the incidents.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sleepy Pilot Mistakes Planet for Oncoming Plane, Aircraft Nosedives

Hemera/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- A sleepy pilot who mistook the planet Venus for an oncoming plane sent his Air Canada jet into a steep dive that bounced passengers off the ceiling, injuring 16, and nearly caused a collision with a real plane flying 1,000 feet lower.

Air Canada initially described the injuries to 14 passengers and two flight attendants as the result of "severe turbulence," but a report released this week by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada explains what really happened over the Atlantic Ocean on an overnight flight from Toronto to Zurich on Jan. 14, 2011.

According to the report, the plane's first officer had been sleeping, as is permitted by Air Canada on transatlantic flights, when he was awakened by the pilot's report of the plane's position.

The pilot indicated that a U.S. Air Force cargo plane was approaching the Air Canada 767-300 at an elevation about 1,000 feet below the passenger jet.

The "confused and disoriented" first officer, however, believed that the planet Venus was the approaching plane, and was coming right at the Air Canada jet. He forced the plane into a dive.

Passengers who were not wearing seat belts, many of them asleep, were slammed into the ceiling and overhead bins.

Realizing what had happened, the pilot was able to pull the plane out of the dive after it had descended 400 feet. The U.S. military plane passed safely underneath.

Seven of the injured were treated in a Swiss hospital after the plane landed safely.

Astronomers say that on that night in January 2011, Venus would have looked exceedingly bright from the airplane's cockpit, and a groggy pilot could easily have mistaken the planet for a plane.

"It looks like the headlight on an airplane," said Joseph Rao of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. "It's exceedingly bright. It doesn't twinkle, it's not like a star in that it twinkles. It looks like a steady, white spot of light in the sky. In fact we call it the evening star but they really should call it the evening lantern because it is so much brighter than any of the other stars."

"On that night it would have been ten times brighter than the brightest star," explained Dr. Arlin Crotts of Columbia University.

John Nance, a former commercial pilot and ABC News aviation analyst, said it was "not outlandish" for a pilot to confuse an object as bright as Venus for an oncoming aircraft. "What's surprising is that it went far enough to take evasive action," said Nance.

A passenger onboard the flight captured the aftermath of the incident on video, now posted on YouTube. "We just had the most amazing turbulence," says the passenger, who notes that another passenger's laptop had gone flying. "I hit the roof, everyone is safe, but this is part of the damage," she says, showing damage to the overhead bins.

According to the report, the first officer had slept 75 minutes, and was suffering from "sleep inertia" and fatigue. Canadian regulations permit 40-minute naps, and pilots and co-pilots are supposed to be allowed an extra 15 minutes once awake to regain full alertness. U.S. rules do not allow in-cockpit naps.

"This occurrence underscores the challenge of managing fatigue on the flight deck," said lead investigator Jon Lee in a statement.

ABC News explored the connection between pilot sleep, or the lack of it, and air safety, in a series of reports in 2011.

In the U.S., more than two dozen accidents and more than 250 fatalities between 1991 and 2011 have been linked to pilot fatigue, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB investigation into the Feb. 12, 2009 crash of Continental 3407, operated by Colgan Air, near Buffalo, N.Y., determined that both pilots were sleep-deprived at the time of the crash.

While the FAA has imposed some new rules to fight pilot fatigue, it did not address the problem of pilots who commute long distance to their bases, often spending the night in crew lounges, or in so-called crash pads near the airport, where quality sleep can be elusive. Both pilots in the Colgan crash were "commuters" who had slept in the airport crew lounge before the fatal flight.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cat in the Cockpit: Free-Roaming Feline Causes 4-Hour Flight Delay

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(HALIFAX, Nova Scotia) -- A curious cat led to a major flight delay for passengers of one Air Canada Flight from Halifax to Toronto on Thursday. Ten-year-old Ripples was put back in his carrier after going through airport security but his owner, Debbie Harris, failed to realize that one of the latches on the carrier was improperly done.

As Harris got on the plane, the latch on Ripples’ carrier gave way and the cat ran through the aisles to first class where passengers tried and failed to catch him. Ripples then made his way to the cockpit, diving under the pilots’ feet into a small inaccessible wiring compartment.

Passengers were forced to leave the plane as technicians worked to take the compartment apart and free the cat. Ripples was extracted from the compartment and the flight took off for Toronto, more than four hours behind schedule.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'Unbelievable': Young Man Boards Air Canada Jet Disguised as Old Man

Photo Courtesy - Air Canada(RICHMOND, B.C.) -- An elderly, wrinkled white man boarded a plane in Hong Kong and a young, baby-faced Asian man got off in Vancouver in what Canadian authorities are calling an "unbelievable" case of disguised identity.

Midway through the Oct. 29 Air Canada flight, the man entered the plane's lavatory and removed an intricately detailed silicon mask. When he returned to his seat, his identity as an Asian man in his early 20s was revealed, according to an "Intelligence Alert" circulated internally by the Canada Border Services Agency.

"Information was received from Air Canada Corporate Security regarding a possible imposter on a flight originating from Hong Kong," reads the alert.

"The passenger in question was observed at the beginning of the flight to be an elderly Caucasian male who appeared to have young looking hands. During the flight the subject attended the washroom and emerged an Asian looking male that appeared to be in his early 20s." The bulletin describes the incident as an "unbelievable case of concealment."

The Canada Border Services Agency would not comment to ABC News, but spokesmen for the Canada Immigration Ministry and Air Canada confirmed the details of the incident included in the bulletin.

The man, whose name has not been released by authorities, was met at the gate by Canadian security officials. He declared refugee status after being escorted through customs.

Officials searched the man's baggage and discovered a "disguise kit," including the silicon mask, a brown leather cap, glasses, and a brown cardigan.

"The subject admitted…that he had boarded the flight with the mask and removed it several hours later," according to the alert.

According to the CBSA, the man swapped boarding passes prior to boarding with an American born in 1955.

"It is believed that" the man showed his Aeroplan credit card as identification to board the flight. "Neither boarding passes not Aeroplan cards reflects date of birth," according to the alert.

An Air Canada official told ABC News that the airline requires passengers to show a passport before boarding international flights leaving Hong Kong.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio