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Smoke-filled WestJet plane undergoes emergency evacuation in Nanaimo, B.C.

A WestJet flight from Vancouver to Nanaimo declared an emergency after smoke filled the cabin and flight deck on approach to the Nanaimo airport.

Transportation Safety Board is investigating

An emergency was declared on a WestJet flight from Vancouver to Nanaimo after the cabin filled with smoke. 0:59

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating after a WestJet flight declared an emergency when smoke filled the cabin and flight deck on its approach to the Nanaimo airport Tuesday.

Passenger Robin Thacker was sitting in row 17 near the back of the Bombardier Q400 twin turboprop on the Vancouver-Nanaimo flight. 

"It was touch and go in terms of getting scared about it," he said. "By the time we landed you almost couldn't see the front row, that's how thick the smoke was. No masks dropped down and they just told us to breathe through our clothes."

Thacker said the flight landed normally but then underwent an emergency evacuation on the tarmac with the crew kicking out the doors. He estimates the flight was 90 per cent full.

In a statement, a WestJet spokesperson said all passengers and crew on WestJet Encore flight 3161 were safely evacuated from the aircraft.

Thacker said the smoke became noticeable in the last four or five minutes of the 17-minute flight. 

"You could tell [the crew] was worried. That's when the worry kicked in for me," Thacker said.

WestJet said it has cancelled three subsequent flights the aircraft was scheduled to fly between Vancouver and Vancouver Island due to a maintenance inspection.

The TSB announced Wednesday that it had deployed a team of investigators to look into the incident.

The agency investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation incidents to advance safety. Investigators don't assign fault or determine liability.