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Air France Mounts Rescue Operation After Boeing 787 Dreamliner Makes Emergency Landing in Canada’s Remote Arctic Capital

Air France Mounts Rescue Operation After Boeing 787 Dreamliner Makes Emergency Landing in Canada’s Remote Arctic Capital

a white airplane flying in the sky

Air France had to launch a rescue operation on Tuesday for a planeload of passengers who found themselves stranded in a remote town known as Canada’s Arctic Capital after their flight from Paris to Seattle had to make an emergency landing when smoke was detected onboard.

The flight had departed Paris Charles de Gaulle as normal at around 10:45 am on Tuesday for what should have been a routine nine-and-a-half-hour flight to Seattle.

Around six hours into the flight, however, Air France says that the smell of smoke was detected in both the cockpit and cabin, prompting the pilots to don their oxygen masks and divert to the nearest available airport.

Flying over such a remote and isolated region, Air France flight AF338 was forced to backtrack on itself and fly for around an hour before it reached Iqaluit – the northernmost city in Canada.

The seven-year-old Boeing 787-9 landed without incident, but once on the ground, Air France had to work out how to get the 260 passengers and crew onboard the aircraft out of Iqaluit and to their intended destination.

Without any engineers to fix the aircraft, the plane was effectively stranded in Iqaluit, along with all the passengers who had to wait until Air France devised a plan to rescue them.

In the end, Air France cancelled one of its two daily departures from Montreal to Paris and sent a Boeing 777 from Quebec to Iqaluit to pick up the passengers and crew and then fly them to New York. That may, of course, not be the intended destination for most of the passengers, but it does at least send them to the United States, where they can get onward flights.

In a statement, Air France commented, “Air France regrets the inconvenience caused by this situation and reiterates that the safety of its customers and crews is its absolute imperative.”

Matt’s take

A so-called ‘smoke, fire or fume’ event is one of the most serious incidents that can happen on an airplane and the only thing scarier than an SFF event at 40,000 feet is an SFF even at 40,000 while overflying a remote area without an easily accessible diversion airport.

It’s imperative that the crew find out the source of the smoke or fumes as fast as possible, and if a fire is detected, take all available steps to fight the fire. In most cases, an SFF event is going to result in an emergency diversion because if there is a fire, it could easily spread despite the best efforts of the crew.

Although alarming, most SFF incidents are, thankfully, relatively benign. The biggest cause of smoke in the cabin is the onboard ovens, while air conditioning units have also been known to spew out fumes.

View Comments (10)
  • Interesting!

    Great reporting. The plane left YFB at 2239 and is scheduled to land at JFK at 0201. The current time is 0050 in New York.

    If the passengers land at 2 am, maybe they will be up all night and catch a roughly 7 am flight to Seattle.

  • Come on guys – being forced to endure the freezing cold on an island at the ends of the earth is hardly the worst experience a passenger can get flying on a Boeing plane! Another consequence of manufacturing planes in the first state to legalize the recreational use of pot?

    • The airplane is 7 years old. And Boeing randomly tests it’s manufacturing employees for drug use. Crawl back under your rock.

    • Can’t you ” stay on subject” when commenting?? Perhaps too much recreational Pot used by you….oh well – enjoy it.

    • Flying in a BOEING plane 787/737 may NOT be the SAFEST option.
      Flying on AIR FRANCE – regardless of plane/equipment IS the WORST experience.

    • Except the 787 is made at Boeing’s Charleston SC factory so does away with any snide comment about legal recreational use of pot. BTW Colorado was actually the first state to legalize recreational use.

  • I clicked on the story thinking, finally we’re going to read about an Airbus having issues (it’s Air France after all). And lo behold, BOEING….

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