View Full Version : WestJet Emergency in Calgary

8th Dec 2003, 02:03
Saw this:


CALGARY -- A minute-long nosedive by a plane which left Calgary International Airport had a Cochrane man praying for his life.

The Winnipeg-bound WestJet flight descended almost 6,100 metres (20,000 feet) in a one-minute span after encountering problems about 20 minutes after taking off from Calgary. The aircraft has since been taken out of service.

The plane plunged from a near-cruising altitude to 2,440 metres (8,000 feet) - dropping the aircraft's air masks from overhead compartments - before recovering and returning to Calgary.

"I felt the G-forces on my stomach, my chest ... all over my body," said John Perry, a Cochrane salesman and a passenger on Monday's flight.

"It took us 20 minutes to get up to more than 25,000 feet (7,620 metres) and only about one minute to come down."

Perry, a father of three- and five-year-olds, said the experience left him "making peace with God."

"I thought, 'Please forgive my sins' and 'look after my family,' " said Perry, who was flying to Winnipeg to visit a friend when the plane started to plummet.

He described the atmosphere as "eerie" and "surreal."

"But no one knew anything ... even the (flight attendants) didn't know what was going on."

Perry said most passengers turned to quiet reflection as the plane continued to drop.

"In the movies, you always hear people screaming and crying, but here it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop," said Perry.

A stiff 180-degree turn also added to the concern of the passengers, he said.

Once the aircraft stopped its dive, Perry said the captain explained the plane had fallen victim to a pressurization problem but had levelled off at 2,440 metres.

When the plane recovered from the plunge, it was forced to return to the airport, where passengers were transferred to another aircraft.

That plane was taken out of service in Calgary and a replacement aircraft was brought in, said a WestJet official who asked not to be identified. Passengers were reloaded onto the waiting plane and carried on to Winnipeg.

WestJet couldn't offer any details relating to the incident or what caused the plane to aggressively lose altitude.

Seems like more sensationalist meda hype to me, and a perfectly executed emergency decent.

Does anyone have any more info?

8th Dec 2003, 05:46
The author ought to be writing for a soap opera - I have rarely seen so many dramatic descriptions used in one story before :rolleyes: The joys of objective and factually accurate journalism.....

8th Dec 2003, 08:43
Sounds like a pressurization problem and that the boys/gals up front did good.

Another day, another dollar!

8th Dec 2003, 20:08
Before the usual culprits come out of the woodwork and have their usual salivating attack on journalists perhaps some of you should take just a bit more time and thought about what is actually being reported and from what point of view. In this instance, the reporter has accurately described the events in some kind of pressurisation problem from the point of view of one of the passengers.

Those of you so brave and willing to make smug commentary about a well executed emergency descent should remember that for the first few minutes of such an event are likely to be terribly frightening for the cabin crew and the pax alike. How many of you have been through such an event as pax for real? I'd be prepared to wager that not one of you! :hmm:

Think about it for a minute before you engage your scathing criticism of the press. Yes, they do often get it wrong but if you were to take just a few extra minutes and analyse the report above you would realise that in this instance, apart from reporting the passengers thoughts and reactions, the report is accurate and unsensationalist. How would you write such a report for the consumption of the non-pilot readership?

Try to imagine how the passengers behind you feel if you had to perform an emergency descent for real after some sort of pressurisation failure. Whilst you are performing your duties and reacting with your training, donning oxygen, establishing comms, descending at MMO or VMO, assessing the problem, avoiding other a/c, talking to ATC, changing squawk, checking MSA and any other host of tasks the SLF are probably going through several minutes of sheer fright and confusion. What would be going through your mind if you were sat in the back? Better yet, what do you think would be going through the mind of your spouse/parent/child who is not a qualified pilot?

If you are going to have a feeding frenzy on the press then at least make sure you are feeding on the prey and not those who, as in this instance, have reported what appears to be an incident that had a profound effect on one of the pax and no doubt all the others too. Let's try and be a bit more mature and intelligent about how we discuss incidents like these and the real fears of the SLF who are nowhere nearly as au fait with what some of us are highly trained to deal with.

8th Dec 2003, 22:30
Danny is corect.......we forget that sometimes the punters down the back are scared shitless.......NO information, (guys are much too busy), and it looks like the end of the world...then the big guy come on PA....just a little technical problem chaps nothing to get upset about........Then on the next flight you are stuck at the gate for some reason, and tell the pax....sorry for the delay just a little technical problem.......dont be surprised at the number of off loads.....
YES the write up sums up the pax view quite well.....but I would still prefer to watch it from the front window rather than a side window......

India Four Two
8th Dec 2003, 23:38
Here's a less sensational report from the Calgary Herald (http://www.canada.com/search/story.aspx?id=74587baa-9c6c-4505-bc68-6c8a92a96a98):

WestJet flight aborted
A Winnipeg-bound WestJet Boeing 737 had to abort its journey and return to Calgary last week after an air conditioning unit malfunctioned, causing the airplane to slowly lose cabin pressure.

Officials said the matter prompted the crew to put the plane into a steady, eight-degree descent, returning to Calgary without incident last Monday.

A commercial plane typically lands with a descent of about three degrees.

Clive Beddoe, WestJet's chief executive, said there was never a danger and bristled at a media report of a "nosedive" that alleged a plunge of 5,100 metres in only a minute.

Tim Morgan, the airline's senior vice-president of operations, said the descent would have lasted at least three or four minutes, adding the manoeuvre was a standard process in such a situation.

He said WestJet had experienced a similar incident once before.

"It's certainly something you would not normally experience, but you're not hanging from your seat-belt heading towards the ground," he said. "It was by no means dangerous."

Morgan said the air conditioning unit was fixed and the airplane is flying again.

Copyright 2003 Calgary Herald

9th Dec 2003, 02:25
to be fair to the the world of Journalism think how many PPRUNE posts start with info taken from a Journalists report ....... it may not be technically 100% but it gives us all a chance to review incidents that can be sensibly discussed among the guys and gals that know what they are talking about ......

also remember that "Joe Public" (and that sometimes that means you and me) often say crazy things to a Journalist ......

looking at the evening news on TV tonight and seeing the recent dramatic Snow conditions on the East coast of the USA , we were all spell bound by its effects in every sphere ....... someone right in the middle of it said to a TV reporter the following Profound words !!!!! ......

"its not anyones fault ...... its the weather"

the Nations TV viewers fell "Silent" .........

9th Dec 2003, 02:33
I'm not one who makes a habit of picking on journalists, its just sad to see such sensationalist reporting when it can be done in a far more professional, factual and objective manner, such as the report by the Calgary Herald. I appreciate that most of the "shock" factor is coming from the poor, frightened passenger's own words, but I think that in this case, the journalist is using the words in a sensationalist manner, rather than an objective manner, and I don't believe that this makes for good quality journalism.

White Knight
10th Dec 2003, 00:34
In this case the reporting may be fairly responsible as you see it Danny - HOWEVER a lot of very sensational stuff regarding aviation incidents does get reported by the press.

Can you blame pilots, on this the professional PILOTS rumour network, having scathing remarks to say???...... Very understandable if you ask me.

10th Dec 2003, 02:08
Not a professional pilot, only a recreational one, me, but some of the absolute rubbish written/reported, especially when something bad happens, really makes me angry.

Latest example I can think of concerned the TBM700 accident at Oxford, UK, this last weekend. Quoted below are some snippets from an article on BBC Ceefax:

"The 3 people onboard...."

A bit further down the page....

"The two-seater aircraft...."

Whilst I agree with Danny's slant on the Calgary article, no lack of knowledge of aviation could be blamed for this rubbish :mad:

....and this is just accuracy (or lack of), don't get me started on sensationalism!!

10th Dec 2003, 05:00
Was that a 737-200 or one of their NGs?

10th Dec 2003, 05:24
To the average punter in the street (like me) flying is far more unnatural than sitting in the back of the No. 37 bus going to the town centre.

Its probably statistically more dangerous for them to sit in the back of the No. 37, but it doesn't feel that way. If the bus (presumably a double decker) goes round a corner a bit too quickly, and its unexpected, the punters will feel the angle and probably wonder if the bus will tip over onto its side. However as the average corner lasts for only a few seconds, the punters will have their fears calmed before they have time to really wonder about it. Also, in a serious bus crash, the assumption is "I'll probably be injured" but if the plane were to crash the assumption is "I'll probably die".

So don't be surprised about sensationalist journalism. It's merely reflecting the fellings of the average reader. If the average punter took the BA1234 as often as he took the No. 37, the wouldn't be any reports about 'near disasters.' So don't try to educate journalists, educate the customers down the back.