Nova Scotia

Air Canada flight AC624: Hard landing or crash landing?

People who thought they might die as Air Canada flight AC624 slid along a Halifax runway Sunday might be forgiven for objecting when they hear the incident described as a "hard landing," but a retired military pilot says that's the correct term.

Botched landing of flight from Toronto to Halifax leaves at least 25 injured

Jock Williams, retired military pilot and former Transport Canada flight safety officer, discusses what is involved in the investigation 1:22

People who thought they might die as Air Canada flight AC624 slid along a Halifax runway Sunday might be forgiven for objecting when they hear the incident described as a "hard landing," but a retired military pilot says that's the correct term.

At least 25 passengers were taken to hospital after the Airbus 320 slid off the runway during snowy weather at Halifax Stanfield International Airport shortly after midnight on Sunday. Images from the scene show the plane on its belly with a heavily damaged nose and right wing.

Peter Spurway, an airport spokesman, said that the plane "took a hard landing," and Air Canada executive vice-president Klaus Goersch called it a hard landing during an afternoon news conference.

Passengers and people online have insisted it was a crash landing. "Stop with the Air Canada doublespeak," one person tweeted at CBC News.

Technical terminology

However, retired military pilot Jock Williams told CBC News Network that a hard landing is a more accurate description.

The Air Canada jet slid off the runway during snowy weather at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Sunday, sending at least 25 passengers to hospital. (Transportation Safety Board Canada/Canadian Press)

"The fact is Air Canada is not obfuscating," said Williams, who is also a former flight safety officer with Transport Canada. "They're using the technical terminology."

Williams said nobody is denying the incident was a crash. Goersch himself said "a crash is when an airplane doesn't make it to the gate, like in this incidence."

But Williams said there's a key difference between a hard landing and a crash landing: You can see a crash landing coming.

"A crash landing is something that you can set up for a long way back," Williams told CBC's Andrew Nichols. For instance, if a pilot knows his or her landing gear won't drop.

"You declare an emergency, you say we're going to be doing a gear-up landing on the runway at 15 minutes from now," Williams said.

Air Canada flight AC624 was a hard landing that became a crash, he said. 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.