'Incredibly scary': Air Canada plane, fuel tanker collide at Toronto's Pearson airport

Five people were injured during the collision of an Air Canada Express plane and a fuel tanker truck at Toronto's Pearson International airport early Friday.

5 people, including pilots, were injured and tanker truck driver charged, police say

Damage to Air Canada Jazz plane

5 years ago
Duration 0:25
An aircraft was badly damaged when a fuel truck crashed into it at Toronto's Pearson airport

Five people were injured during the collision of an Air Canada Express plane and a fuel tanker truck at Toronto's Pearson International airport early Friday.

The collision occurred around 1:36 a.m. ET as Flight 8615 was taxiing to a gate at Terminal 1 with 50 passengers aboard.

The DHC-8-300 was originally headed to Sudbury from Toronto, but turned back to Pearson due to foggy conditions in the northern Ontario city.

According to Peel Regional Police Sgt. Bancroft Wright, the tanker truck struck the plane and the driver has been charged with dangerous operation of a vehicle.

"The plane was pretty much written off," Wright told CBC Toronto.

The plane's two pilots, a flight attendant and two passengers were treated for injuries, according to Wright.

The Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) said in a brief email statement that three people were eventually transported to hospital, but didn't identify them.

A large dent can be seen beneath the cockpit of the Air Canada Express plane at Pearson airport following Friday morning's incident. (Submitted by Daniel Demers)

Panic inside the plane

"The aircraft and vehicle have been removed and the scene has returned to normal operations. There is no operational impact at the airport," the GTAA said. 

It stopped pretty quickly, but then we started to smell aviation fuel and that's when panic started.- Paul Frontczak, passenger

Passenger Paul Frontczak was on his last leg of a long trip back from Sydney, Australia. He said it didn't look as though the fuel truck would hit the plane until the very last moment.

"We were approaching the terminal and on the left side, I looked out, and a large vehicle was barrelling — it appeared parallel to us, but suddenly, bang!" he said from the Greater Sudbury Airport.

"It hit the front of the aircraft, threw the aircraft in one direction, it spun the opposite way, and it looks like either the front or the rear of it hit the back of the airplane."

Frontczak said that the plane felt like it was sliding for a few moments before coming to rest.

"It stopped pretty quickly, but then we started to smell aviation fuel and that's when panic started," he  said.

"Everyone was like, we got to get out — we got to get out like now."

Emergency services responded to the airport after the plane and a fuel truck collided around 1:36 a.m. ET Friday. (Jeremy Cohn/CBC)

It was at that point that the evacuation began. Passengers were forced to jump from the plane onto the tarmac below. Frontczak said the process was somewhat chaotic.

"Let's just say I wasn't overly impressed and I'll just leave it at that," he said.

Kylie Wright echoed that discontentment in an interview with CBC Toronto. She said there was little communication with passengers, and described the aftermath of the collision as "somewhat disorganized."

Wright, who was also on her way home after a trip to Australia, called the experience "incredibly scary."

"There was a lot of fuel smell and there was a lot of fuel on the ground as well."

Wright declined to take a complimentary flight back to Sudbury later Friday out of concerns for her safety. 

Jazz Aviation LP, the company that operates flights for Air Canada, said in an email statement that they understand that "deplanement can be an uncomfortable experience."

"Our crews are professionals and trained to deal with such situations, and they ensured that all passengers were deplaned safely," the statement said.

Any passengers who have concerns were asked to contact Air Canada's customer relations directly.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has deployed a team of investigators to the airport.