First Air pilots find cockpit smoke after landing

Five crew members and eight passengers were evacuated via chutes from a 32-year-old Boeing 727 jet that had landed in Iqaluit last week.


IQALUIT — A 32-year old Boeing 727 jet operated by First Air was brought to a standstill this Wednesday in Iqaluit after pilots declared an on-ground emergency when they smelled smoke in the jet’s cockpit.

The jet had completed a routine landing in Iqaluit around 1:30 pm, following an uneventful trip from Montreal via Kuujjuaq, when members of the five-person crew smelled smoke in the cockpit.

“Under those circumstances, the standard procedure is an emergency evacuation,” said First Air spokesperson Tracey Beaman.

The crew and eight passengers left the aircraft via chutes, without suffering any injuries.

Meanwhile, the Iqaluit Fire Department received a call about the situation.

“Our standard response to any aircraft emergency is a full response,” said Iqaluit fire chief Neville Wheatley.

Wheatley said that the Iqaluit department has received training in how to handle internal aircraft fires, although to date, fire-fighters haven’t had to use this training.

Iqaluit’s full emergency brigade arrived to find that there was no fire in the plane, rather only traces of smoke.

“It was very anti-climatic,” Wheatley said.

Passengers and crew were whisked away, reporters and other curious onlookers were left to watch the plane being towed down the runway.

Airline mechanics immediately began an inspection of the aircraft to locate the source of the smoke. The fire department stayed on hand to assist the First Air staff as they tested the plane’s various electronic systems.

Beaman said that it was “impossible to speculate” what the problem was.

First Air has operated the jet for 12 years, and has never noted any major problems with the aircraft.

Beaman couldn’t say when the plane would be back in service, but she said it takes time to restuff the emergency chutes once they’re deployed.

On Wednesday, First Air’s flight from Resolute Bay to Ottawa took on southbound travelers, and while Canadian North delayed the arrival of one flight, there were no other disruptions in airline service.

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