Rescue flight takes stranded L.A.-bound passengers out of Nunavut
Swiss International Air Lines jet lands in Iqaluit on one engine, airline sends rescue plane
More than 200 passengers and 17 crew members boarded a Swiss International Airlines rescue aircraft bound for JFK airport in New York City early Feb. 2, after their Zurich to Los Angeles flight made an emergency landing in Iqaluit when one of its engines shut down.
The flight, Swiss 7003, departed at 5:04 a.m. and is expected to arrive at New York at 08:23 a.m., according to the online airline flight tracking site flightaware.com.
— Iqaluit Airport (@IqaluitAirport) February 2, 2017
The passengers aboard the Swiss Boeing 777-300 found themselves in Iqaluit—in minus 30 C temperatures—instead of balmy Los Angeles Feb. 1.
So what do you do in a situation like that?
Well, if you’re like Leroy Sanchez, 26, a Spanish-born singer-songwriter currently based in Los Angeles, you look at the bright side of being “stuck in the middle of the North Pole,” as he said on Twitter.
— Leroy Sanchez (@IamLeroySanchez) February 2, 2017
Sanchez was among those travelling on Swiss International Airlines flight 40, which departed Zurich at 1:10 p.m. local time in Switzerland, bound for Los Angeles, and then made an emergency landing in Iqaluit Feb. 1, at about 3 p.m., with only one engine.
You can see the jet landing in this video, now posted on Youtube, by Iqaluit’s Brian Tattuinee.
A Boeing 777 is designed to fly for at least three hours on one engine for a distance up to 1,320 nautical miles or 2,110 kilometres. The aircraft’s engine stopped working about 290 nautical miles from Iqaluit after a malfunction message prompted the shutdown.
After landing, the jet was unable to move off the runway at the Iqaluit airport, which shut down operations for about two hours until the disabled aircraft was towed to an apron.
The airline’s website—Switzerland’s national airline—at first said only that its flight 40 had been “redirected.”
Swiss International then said in a tweet that “LX 40 showed a technical irregularity, diverted to Iqaluit where it securely landed.”
The airline, the company that inherited the former Swissair which became defunct in 2002, clarified the circumstances around the emergency landing.
Update LX40: malfunction message led to automatic shut down of left engine – as it is programmed to. Safe landing in @IqluitAirport
— Swiss Intl Air Lines (@FlySWISS) February 1, 2017
All passengers and crew were “well and unharmed,” the airline said in a statement issued during the afternoon on Feb. 1.
The Iqaluit airport reopened to other traffic at about 5 p.m.
Meanwhile, another jet from Swiss International left New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and headed to Iqaluit to pick up the stranded passengers.
During the long night, as they waited for the relief aircraft, passengers had hoped to disembark, tour the city—perhaps visiting the city’s recently-opened new aquatic facility—and get a bite to eat before heading on to Los Angeles.
Instead they learned they would remain on the aircraft until they boarded their new flight in the early hours of Feb. 2.
“It’s really too bad there was a change of plan, it would have been nice for passengers to experience Iqaluit—outside the plane,” Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern said in a late-night message.