British Columbia

Orca Airways pilot fired for overshooting Tofino runway, not reporting

An Orca Airways pilot was let go for overshooting the Tofino B.C. runway, and not reporting the error to the airline.

'This could have killed us,' said passenger Denis McMullen

The pilot of an Orca Airways plane, like this one, overshot a runway at Tofino airport on a foggy day. (Orca Airways)

An Orca Airways pilot has been fired for overshooting a Tofino B.C. runway, and not reporting the error to the airline.

"He got the aircraft down and everybody was pretty relieved, but you know, after a while it set in that this could have killed us," said Denis McMullen.

The McMullens — Denis and his wife — were two of six passengers on the flight from Vancouver to Tofino in September 2015.

Thick fog

The pilot warned passengers on take off that fog was thick, so the plane may have to land in Port Alberni.

"So, with that, we took off. It was a fairly uneventful journey until we got over to the west coast of the island — where there was a lot of low cloud."

The plane tried to approach twice, before landing, said McMullen.

After touch down he says it took "five seconds" before the plane ran out of runway.

CEO learned days later

Orca Airways CEO, Andrew Naysmith, says he didn't learn about the runway overshoot until days later, and that violates company policy, so the pilot was dismissed.

The airline was founded in 2005 and operates out of the Vancouver International Airport. Its 20 planes provide daily flights between Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

On the company's web site it describes itself as "a safety-driven, performance-based airline focused on continuous training."

with files from the CBC's Chantelle Bellrichard

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