Plane with landing gear issue makes emergency landing at Stephenville airport
None of 51 aboard injured on Provincial Airlines flight from Wabush
A plane headed for Deer Lake in western Newfoundland made an emergency landing at Stephenville airport today because of an issue with its landing gear.
The Provincial Airlines Flight 1922 plane tried to land in Deer Lake when it encountered the problem, the airline said in a news release.
Given adverse weather conditions in Deer Lake, the pilot circled around before heading to Stephenville, where an emergency landing was necessary.
It was nothing like I was expecting. I was expecting more of a grind coming to a halt, but you didn't even feel it.- Passenger Gene Babb
There were 47 passengers and four crew aboard the Dash 8 aircraft, the airline said, and no injuries.
Gene Babb, who was on the flight, said the pilot and crew did a "phenomenal job" under the circumstances.
"I survived a plane crash. It's something to say. It's not often or not many people who get to be involved in that," Babb told CBC News.
"Not that you would want to, but no, I just look back and think it's cool. Great job. I was more impressed with the pilot and the crew. They were phenomenal, I gotta say."
Babb said the flight was originally scheduled to land in Deer Lake before carrying on to St. John's, but the pilot found the landing-gear issue.
'Everything will be OK'
They circled around for another hour and eventually the plane made its way to Stephenville.
The pilot came on the announcement system to tell people to prepare for an emergency landing, and Babb said that's when people got nervous.
"When they announced that we had to be in cross position for landing, to put your head down or your hands across the back of your chair, that's when people started getting a little bit worried and panicked," he said.
"You had kids crying. Some of the guys were nervous and stuff like that. That's when I guess it got real."
The PAL Dash 8 that had a nose landing gear issue sits empty on the runway near the Stephenville Airport. No emergency crews on site at this time. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CBCNL?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CBCNL</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/PALairlines?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@PALairlines</a> <a href="https://t.co/bVjR1B2e0x">pic.twitter.com/bVjR1B2e0x</a>—@colleencbc
Babb himself has put some hours in flying an aircraft. His father was a pilot and his sister-in-law is a pilot for Air Canada, so he wasn't nervous.
"I was trying to calm the passengers around me down, let them know everything will be OK," said Babb.
"The landing was actually extremely smooth, and the plane came to a stop and had a bit of a jolt, and no more to it than that."
Some people were crying when they got off the plane, but more out of relief than out of fear, he said.
"More excitement of course when the plane stopped and all was good," Babb said.
"It was nothing like I was expecting. I was expecting more of a grind coming to a halt, but you didn't even feel it."
'Shaken and scared'
Dana Kelly-Martin, who was also on the flight, said everyone remained calm when the pilot announced the emergency landing.
But just as the plane was descending, she said, flight attendants started shouting at passengers to get down.
"That's when it hits, you don't know what's going to happen," she said. "It was kind of surreal."
She says she instinctively pulled out her phone to text her daughter and husband, telling them she loved them.
Kelly-Martin said passengers arrived at the airport to "a load of pizza," which they ate while waiting for coaches to take them to Deer Lake.
Runway still closed
Brenda Martin, CEO of the Stephenville airport, said most of her staff just happened to be at work that day, planning for winter operations.
It was all hands on deck when the emergency call came in.
"I think things went fantastic, considering the event," she said. "Passengers seemed to be in good spirits."
All the passengers are now aboard this charter bus on its way to Deer Lake. Everyone seems in good spirits. No one was hurt. Lots of families. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbcnl?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#cbcnl</a> <a href="https://t.co/1KfDHyMcIM">pic.twitter.com/1KfDHyMcIM</a>—@colleencbc
Martin believes a malfunctioning indicator light for the front landing gear caused the pilot's concern. She said the Transport Safety Board is expected early tomorrow morning to investigate.
The runway will remain closed until Martin is given the all-clear to remove the plane, she said, meaning Stephenville can't be used as a safe alternate airport in the interim.
Given the windstorm, she said, "we do need that aircraft to come off the runway as soon as possible."