2 airliners make emergency landings in Halifax minutes apart

Two passenger airliners en route to destinations in Europe were forced to divert and land at Halifax international airport only minutes apart from one another Tuesday night.

Fire broke out on United Airlines flight, medical emergency on Air Canada flight

Firefighters aboard Flight 999 to Brussels. (Photo by Davy Struyf via Twitter)

Two passenger airliners en route to destinations in Europe were forced to divert and land at Halifax Stanfield International Airport only minutes apart from one another Tuesday night.

A United Airlines jet on its way to Brussels from the New York area made an emergency landing after a small fire aboard the Boeing 777, a spokesman for the airport said Tuesday.

"We saw crew going into the back of the plane and then they asked us to turn on the ventilation to maximum, so there was a maximum of air circulation," passenger Joris Moens said. "So that's when we knew something was going on."

Moens said he didn't see flames and the fire was put out before landing.

A United Airlines Boeing 777 and an Air Canada Boeing 767 made unexpected landings in Halifax after emergencies on board.

"Everything was quiet in the plane. Nobody was panicking. Everybody knew that everything was under control, so it was OK," he said.

No one was injured on the flight from Newark, N.J., which was carrying 233 passengers, said Peter Spurway, vice-president of communications for the Halifax airport.

"There was a small fire on board. It was contained but there was smoke in the aircraft. The pilot did declare an emergency and landed at approximately 10 to 10 p.m. Atlantic time," he said, adding the fire was "in the rear of the aircraft."

Cpl. Angie Hawryluk with Halifax District RCMP said the fire was contained to the galley area of the aircraft. 

Flight to Frankfurt

About two minutes later, Air Canada Flight 874 from Montreal to Frankfurt diverted to Halifax because of a medical emergency on board. 

The Airbus A330 was carrying 165 passengers at the time. 

The jet was met on the tarmac by emergency personnel and the passenger was transferred into their care, a spokesman with Air Canada said in an email statement.

"Both flights got in, landed safely with no issues and each situation got resolved safely," Spurway said.

Both flights landed safely with no issues, according to Peter Spurway with Halifax Stanfield International Airport. (CBC)

He said unscheduled landings are not altogether uncommon.

"Our operations people spring into action from the emergency-response side and also from the gate-management side."

The diverted Air Canada flight arrived in Frankfurt two hours later than scheduled due to the delay. 

United Airlines said a new plane was en route to Halifax to take the passengers to Belgium.

With files from Reuters


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