A Boeing 737-800 jet belonging to Sunwing Airlines made an unscheduled stop at Abbotsford International Airport (YXX) on Saturday night.
The flight was traveling from Mexico to Vancouver International Airport (YVR) when the aircraft’s fuel quantity indicator system showed the aircraft was low on fuel. Global News reports that Sunwing’s Flight 262 safely landed at YXX at about 9 p.m. and spent one hour on the tarmac for refuelling.
In addition to refuelling, 36 bags were removed at YXX so that the airplane would be lighter for the remainder of its journey to YVR.
It is unclear why the airplane was low on fuel, however, this is not the first time a Canadian airline has experienced low fuel issues during a flight.
Air Canada’s “Gimli Glider” incident
In 1983, an Air Canada Boeing 767-233 traveling from Montreal to Edmonton ran out of fuel when it was near the Ontario-Manitoba provincial border.
Both engines stopped mid-air at an altitude of 41,000 feet, leaving the pilots with only a few essential instruments powered by emergency batteries and the ram air turbine – a small propeller on the exterior of the aircraft that generates electricity from the aircraft’s forward motion.
The pilots glided the airplane to land at a former Royal Canadian Air Force Base in Gimli, Manitoba. However, they were unaware that the landing strip had been converted into a race course, go-kart track and drag strip. At the time of the emergency landing, the former runway was hosting a competition – it was packed with cars and campers.
As the airplane made its approach, the pilots were able to deploy the landing gear but the nose wheel did not lock. When it touched ground, the nose collapsed and caused the plane to bounce and skid.
Fortunately, nobody on the ground was injured and none of the 69 passengers and crew sustained serious injuries in the crash landing.
An investigation later revealed that human error was to blame: at Montreal, the airplane’s fuelling process was calculated on the imperial system instead of the recently implemented metric system. This meant the flight was fuelled with 22,300 pounds of fuel instead of 22,300 kg; it only had half the fuel needed to reach Edmonton.
Feature Image: Sunwing via Shutterstock