Lila Jeffries

Lila Jeffries

Air Canada Jazz engine fire forces emergency landing at Nanaimo Airport

NANAIMO – Engine fire forces Air Canada Jazz crew to abort flight and make emergency landing at Nanaimo Airport.

An Air Canada Jazz flight was forced to make an emergency landing at Nanaimo Airport after an engine fire.

Passengers aboard Air Canada Jazz flight from Nanaimo to Vancouver got a dose of adrenaline with their morning coffee when one of the aircraft’s two engines caught fire.

Flight 8258 lifted off from Nanaimo Airport at 7:20 a.m. and was five to 10 minutes into its route to Vancouver when passengers heard a bang and saw flames and sparks coming from the engine.

Elaine Lachapelle, of Comox, travelling with her dog, Buddy Boy, was among the 35 passengers and three crew aboard. She was sitting in the back row of the de Havilland Canada Dash 8-300 when the fire broke out.

“You could see the engine was on fire and then they thought they got it out and it came up again,” Lachapelle said. “The flight attendant was amazing and so was the pilot and his assistant.”

Lachapelle, who is frequent flyer said she wasn’t apprehensive and everyone on the flight remained calm.

“I felt everything was under control,” she said. “This is the first time something like that has ever happened and, I don’t know why, but I was very trusting of everything that was going on.”

Trevor Fisher, of Nanaimo who was to meet a connector flight to Lethbridge, Alta., said the aircraft had climbed out to what he thought was its maximum altitude for the route when the fire broke out. He admitted to being apprehensive about the incident happening over water.

“The standard stuff that goes through one’s mind when something happens on a plane – a little bit of panic, trying to keep calm and trying to be supportive for the rest of the people that are there,” Fisher said. “The crew really did a good job, too. They really reassured us the plane would have been able to make it to Vancouver even on one engine, which is something of a relief for a lot people to hear because the first thing you think when you think of one of the engines going is that we’re going down over the water.”

The aircraft circled until the fire was brought under control and a decision was made to return to Nanaimo.

Emergency crews from the airport, Cranberry Fire Department and B.C. Ambulance Service attended the scene.

Passengers disembarked on the Nanaimo Airport main runway. They were brought into the airport terminal while Air Canada unloaded their baggage and booked them on new flights.

Alexis Jeffries, of Nanaimo, who was travelling with her two young children to visit her father in Newfoundland, said she is a nervous flyer and wasn’t looking forward to boarding another.

“We did a big loop around – it was busy in Vancouver I guess – and they did an emergency landing,” Jeffries said. “The cockpit door flew open and they were ready to get out.”

Her son, Aiden, 6, was sitting on the starboard side of the aircraft when the fire broke out.

“I was ready to leap across and push him in my seat,” she said. “He didn’t really notice anything. He saw some sparks when were coming down, but otherwise he was oblivious to the whole thing. I’m an anxious flyer as it is. It’s hard enough to fly across the country with the two of them by myself. It was a great way to start my flight.”

No one was injured

Debra Williams, spokeswoman for Jazz Aviation, said in an e-mail the flight crew got an engine oil warning indication and saw flames near one of the engines. They released fire retardant into the engine nacelle and extinguished the flames before returning to Nanaimo.

Company maintenance crews were sent to Nanaimo to inspect and repair the aircraft.