Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Approach throughThunderstorms

I first saw this story in a previous version when all that was known was that the aircraft had gone of the runway and was burning. I did not expect the outcome to be so favourable. Apparently the Air France flight continued an approach to Pearson through a thunderstorm, went off the runway, off the airport and ended up in the Etobicoke river ravine. I think I've been walking in that ravine, right by the airport. Today everyone got out alive with fourteen (update: 43) out of 309 on board suffering minor injuries.

The accident caught my attention especially because it reminds me of another accident. I reached a milestone in my flying career on 2 June 1999, and then returned home triumphantly only to see pictures of American Airlines flight 1420 on TV. It had gone off the runway in Little Rock, Arkansas after a landing in a thunderstorm. The timing had a strong effect on me. The captain had been killed in the crash, and the first officer's leg was broken. He had made a weak attempt to prompt the captain for a go around, not quite intelligible on the CVR, but did not insist. I imagined the FO in that situation. He hadn't given himself the authority to stop what was happening, and then through comfusion and pain he would realize that the captain was unresponsive and now he was in charge. All together eleven people died there.

Thunderstorms bring almost every unfavourable weather condition at once; low level windshear, poor visibility, wet runways, and high gusting crosswinds make up only the beginning of the list. I'm thankful for whatever combination of flight attendants, emergency services and fate kept this one out of the fatalities column.

Additional Update: Holy c#@p, I've just seen footage of this on the National. They're calling it a "miracle." It's definitely dramatic.

1 comment:

Lord Hutton said...

A prang like that was always going to make the headlines. What a miraculous outcome!