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Pax demand answers for ‘terrifying’ Air Canada flight with aborted take-off, emergency landing

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Lakelad    45

.

NP poaching on CBC turf?

Passengers demand answers for ‘terrifying’ Air Canada flight with aborted take-off, emergency landing

Wed Jun 14, 2017 - National Post
by Tom Blackwell

Passengers on board an Air Canada flight from Antigua to Toronto are demanding answers after a series of mishaps – including a “terrifying” aborted take-off and an emergency landing – left some wondering if they would finish the trip alive.

They say the captain explained he stopped the plane just before going airborne because he had neglected to activate an on-board computer.

The emergency landing was blamed on faulty fuel distribution, similar to a problem the crew addressed before they left Antigua.

Passengers question whether the Airbus A319 should have taken off at all on June 3 after its earlier troubles.

“It was the absolute worst and most terrifying flight experience I’ve ever had,” said Dan Fuller, 33, a Toronto-based Internet entrepreneur. “There were too many incidents that were occurring back to back to back to think everything was done by the book.”

But Air Canada says the aborted take-off, while rare, was at the relatively low speed of 80 knots – and well within safety parameters – and the plane had no known safety issues when it eventually left the Caribbean island.

Though it had no staff on the ground in Puerto Rico, the airline arranged hotels and meals there for passengers before flying them to Toronto the next day, noted spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick.

“Still, this was an understandably disappointing experience for our customers,” he said. “Our crews are trained to behave professionally and operate safely at all times and they did follow safety protocols. We are sorry about this experience … We have offered significant compensation.”

Fuller said he was promised a debriefing with an Air Canada customer-service representative and also emailed an array of company executives asking for a full explanation of the flight’s troubles, but has yet to hear from any of them.

He said he’s been offered a $500 credit on future travel.

According to passengers, Flight 961 was meant to leave about 2:30 p.m. from Antigua’s V.C. Bird International Airport but a series of delays ensued, starting with a malfunctioning toilet. As the Airbus finally taxied toward the runway, it was ordered back by air-traffic controllers because of a storm in the area.

Given the go-ahead later, the jet was hurtling down the runway when the take-off was suddenly aborted, smoke billowing from the landing gear.

“He slammed on the brakes. It was terrifying,” said Fuller, who had been on vacation with his wife. “A lot of us felt this would be the end for us.”

Fitzpatrick said the incident – at a low enough speed it did not need to be reported to the safety board – stemmed from a “flight computer setting.”

Both Fuller and fellow passenger Stella Mercuri, a Montreal-based medical secretary also on holiday, said the captain announced that he had made an error himself with the computer.

The passengers next heard about a problem with the distribution of the fuel on the plane, but about four hours after the scheduled departure time, 961 took off successfully.

Just over an hour into the flight, the pilot announced the emergency landing in Puerto Rico.

“Everybody panicked,” said Mercuri. “We were all pretty much freaking out … I just felt that all this would have been avoided if they had just stayed in Antigua.”

Though the Transportation Safety Board is not investigating the incident, it issued a report saying the crew decided to land after noticing the engines were only getting fuel from the left and centre tanks, not the right, creating an imbalance.

Fuller said he challenged the captain the next day as they were about to board the replacement flight, with a different crew. Citing his 30 years of cockpit experience, the pilot said things could have ended much differently, the passenger recalled.

“He said ‘If you were on an aircraft with another carrier or you had a less experienced flight crew, you might not be alive today.’ ”

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boestar    600

Is stopping your car from 80 miles per hour terrifying.

 

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J.O.    807
2 hours ago, boestar said:

Is stopping your car from 80 miles per hour terrifying.

 

Well to be fair, if you are a passenger in said car and you're not looking ahead when it happens, it will come as quite a shock to be suddenly stopped from hitting the dashboard by your shoulder belt. Passengers in the back have no idea when a rejected takeoff is going to happen until it is happening and if you've never experienced auto brakes MAX in an Airbus, you can't really appreciate how aggressive it is.

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GTFA    4

And we wonder why we are becoming an overanxious, worrying society. It is this type of alarmist reporting that leaves a lasting impression with the public even if they can admit the article is alarmist, the impression has been made.

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DEFCON    684

A reject really can be quite an alarming experience from the pov of the pax. I was on a DC - 10 that rejected at fairly high speed and maybe it was spookier because I was a pilot, but for the first few very long seconds there was only a weird silence of sorts that was quickly followed by tremendous engine & tyre / brake noise, but no perceivable sense of deceleration.   

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DEFCON    684

"And we wonder why we are becoming an overanxious, worrying society. It is this type of alarmist reporting that leaves a lasting impression with the public even if they can admit the article is alarmist, the impression has been made."

The news report may not be accurate, but it does reflect the perspective of the pax. I'm wondering why a Captain would blame the reject on his screw-up; it's just wouldn't be the kind of remark that's going to inspire people to try it again with him at the helm and leads to somewhat sensational news stories, emphasis on 'stories'?

 

 

Edited by DEFCON

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Canoehead    76

Perhaps it's time for some additional disclaimers or "side effects of flying" to be added to the safety video or the safety cards in the seat pockets.  Because I'm sure Mr. Fuller read his safety card and watched the video intently right?

We could list all of the possible scenarios that pax may be subject to on any flight, ranging from uncontained engine failures to RTO's to go-arounds.  We should also include information on Fatigue Units and Kinetic Brake Energy charts.  Let's tell them what steps we will take in the event of a baggage smoke indication, or even tell them that I'm doing line indoc on a new FO- it's his first revenue flight.  We should provide our company ops manuals to the news outlets too so they can critique us on our daily activities.  Someone has to keep us accountable.  I vote for the CBC first.

And we could list all possible consequences to flying like an obnoxious American medication advertisement- everything from "sweaty palms to motion sickness to injury or even death".

The nerve.  Maximum braking!  Geez Captain.... ease up on that!  I'd rather go off the end at 40 knots so I can try out the fancy slides and video tape me with my new selfie stick and my carry-on items running away from the plane screaming so it looks great on YouTube.

I'm with GTFA here.  It's getting ridiculous.

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boestar    600

I have experienced 3 rejected takeoffs over the years, 2 on the same flight, as a passenger.  One was a high speed reject.  I would not describe it as a "terrifying" experience.  Startling maybe.  

 

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Newman    14

I'm guessing this Fuller guy would have been the loudest guy at the gate if the plane never left Antigua... even if it did have a legitimate mechanical issue.

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DEFCON    684

"And we could list all possible consequences to flying like an obnoxious American medication advertisement- everything from "sweaty palms to motion sickness to injury or even death"."

That's good!  

 

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J.O.    807
9 hours ago, Canoehead said:

The nerve.  Maximum braking!  Geez Captain.... ease up on that!  I'd rather go off the end at 40 knots so I can try out the fancy slides and video tape me with my new selfie stick and my carry-on items running away from the plane screaming so it looks great on YouTube.

I'm with GTFA here.  It's getting ridiculous.

It's always a good idea to know your audience. Not everyone who rides in the back is thrilled with the notion of flying.

It may not be the best analogy but nonetheless, if there's a profession that suffers from more dislike from their clients than flying, it's dentistry. I don't frequent dental forums but if I did, I doubt I'd find them ridiculing those patients who aren't big fans of their services. In fact, many dental offices are making an effort to reduce the anxiety of their patients by adding television screens that can distract the patient during a procedure. It's a simple but brilliant strategy and it is working. 

We can't sedate the passengers but we can try to minimize their anxiety when bad days happen. I highly doubt the captain said the RTO was because of something they did wrong but none of us was there, so what if that they did say that? Is that not something we all can learn from?

I know this, having dealt with a fair number of complaints from anxious passengers in a previous life, there were a few times when much of that anxiety was directly attributable to poor communications from the front end when things didn't go according to plan. One that stands out is the skipper who explained the need for an unscheduled fuel stop due to unforecasted headwinds by saying, "We don't have enough fuel to make it." No mention of the headwinds at all. 

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dagger    460

Some of the comments above make sense, but we live in a society where experts and expertise are denigrated - we all supposedly think we know more than doctors and lawyers and pilots and engineers about their fields of expertise. Everyone has an opinion, fostered by reading a few articles on the Internet. Hence the term alternate facts, which morphs into alternate or fake news.

For those of you who care about this, I heartily recommend reading The Death of Expertise, by Tom Nichols. It's a new book. Nichols is a conservative professor at the US War College, but don't be turned off in advance by his past politics, he's very approachable regardless of your own political perspective, and this book is not about politics, but about contemporary self-centred thinking. I had a chance to listen to him speak several weeks ago in Toronto, and he just gave a talk on his book at the Spur Festival in Calgary. Well worth a serious person's time to download (or buy in hardcover from Chapters or Amazon). 

 

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