Some passengers injured on turbulent Air Inuit flight

Boeing 737-200 suddenly lost altitude en route from Montreal to La Grande

Here’s a view of an Air Inuit Boeing 737-20, similar to the one involved in an incident while en route to La Grande in Quebec on Saturday, Aug. 24, which left several passengers injured. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

By Jane George

Passengers on an Air Inuit Boeing 737-200 flight from Montreal to Puvirnituq this past Saturday, Aug. 24, suffered extreme turbulence that injured several passengers.

“Like, omg, there was even blood on the floor of the plane,” one passenger said on Facebook.

“There was an inflight incident on Air Inuit … from Montreal, people were injured, needs to be reported,” another Nunavik resident told Nunatsiaq News in an email.

The autopilot is said to have malfunctioned near La Grande, where the jet usually stops, causing a sudden drop in altitude.

An autopilot is a system used to control an aircraft’s path without constant hands-on control by a pilot.

When an autopilot fails, a crew member must disengage the system, either by flipping a power switch off or, if that doesn’t work, by pulling the autopilot circuit breaker.

Flightaware’s tracklog shows instability throughout the Aug. 24 Air Inuit flight, including a period of about two minutes starting at about 11:49 a.m., when the aircraft dropped from 9,754 metres to 8,565 metres.

This graph shows the speed and altitude of Air Inuit’s EH-732 flight on Aug. 24. (Graph courtesy of

This sudden loss of altitude, or perhaps an earlier moment near 11:15 a.m., threw passengers and a food cart into the air, and left several with injuries.

The jet landed at La Grande at 12:12 p.m.

Passengers on flight EH-732 then continued north, but this time on a Dash-8, at 6:46 p.m., arriving in Puvirnituq at 8:47 p.m.

The jet that remained in La Grande was a Boeing 737-200, one of two 737-200s that Air Inuit bought for $2.5 million each in 2007 from Dolphin Air, a charter airline based in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

In 2008, the Liberal Party chartered one of the 737-200s during its federal election campaign, prompting criticism from New Democratic Party  that the aircraft was an aging gas guzzler.

Nearly 1,500 Boeing 737-200s were built over 20 years, from 1968 to 1988.

Now online sources say only fewer than 200 remain in service.

These are found mainly in the developing world, because they are one of the few midsize aircraft that can carry both passengers and cargo at the same time and can be equipped to land on gravel airstrips.

There is not yet any official occurrence report filed for Air Inuit flight 3H-732 with Transport Canada.

However, Pita Aatami, the president and CEO of Air Inuit, which is owned by the Makivik Corp., said he had spoken about the incident on Taqramiut Nipingat Inc. and Tuttavik radio show on CBC North in Inuktitut.

He refused to make any further comment to Nunatsiaq News.

According to Transport Canada, any owner, operator, pilot-in-command or air traffic comptroller who has direct knowledge of an aviation accident or incident is supposed to call in an initial report to the Transport Canada Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System as soon as possible after the occurrence.

A full report to CADORS must be submitted within 30 days of the occurrence.

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(17) Comments:

  1. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    I’m not here to comment on the incident as Transport Canada will investigate it, determine a cause, and ensure that corrective action is taken. That is what happens when this sort of incident occurs.

    Two related comments. First comment is that the article is trying to blame/shame Air Inuit for using the 737-200 which is without doubt an old aircraft. It should be pointed out that the aircraft undergoes thorough periodic inspections based on airframe time and aircraft cycles (landings/take offs).

    Second comment is that no other jet is capable of operating into a gravel airstrip and carrying the load of the 737-200 especially in a combi pax/cargo configuration. It is not a matter of Air Inuit just spending more money to buy a newer aircraft that can do the job – such an aircraft (newer, gravel capable, pax/cargo) just does not exist.

    Instead of casting shade at Air Inuit this would be an ideal opportunity for NN to point out the continuing lack of infrastructure in the north such as paved runways. It is time to highlight how the lack of infrastructure affects all services in the north.

    With rapidly growing populations and inadequate and aging infrastructure the problem is only going to get worse. IIRC both First Air and Canadian North have retired all of their 737-200’s and Air Inuit will not be far behind. What then?

  2. Posted by willie surusilak on

    i was in that flight going back home it was very scary i really thought i was going to die i thought of my family’s my children’s who’s waiting for me to come home i was prepared to die it was very scary people screaming crying praying food papers people flying in the plane lucky to land thank god and the pilots

  3. Posted by Peter on

    Maybe it’s time to pave the runways and upgrade the planes, these 40 year old planes no matter the inspections are past their prime and the risk is higher for a incident?

    • Posted by Bob the Pilot on

      Your logic that because it’s an older aircraft means it’s has a higher risk of malfunctioning is flawed Peter. If this was true, then why are the brand spanking new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft falling out of the skies and killing people? I’d rather ride in an old DC-3 or Twin Otter, then some of the newer fly-by-wire computerized aircraft any day!

      The Old Trapper has hit the nail on the head. Improved infrastructure and equally capable replacement aircraft for Arctic conditions and environments are issues not being addressed enough.

      • Posted by Peter on

        Will bob, these old birds do tend to spend more down time to carry out inspections on them, also who is talking about the flying coffin the Max?
        With a autopilot malfunction on this old 200 a upgrade to a 400 or 600 would be nice, better for the environment and save some money on fuel and down time.

        There must be some planes out there besides the 737 that can perform in the Arctic. Pave the runways and it opens it up to newer planes with better fuel economy.

  4. Posted by INUK on

    So , what does that mean , Air Inuit is down to one jet

  5. Posted by People on

    Thanks to the nurse who was on board. I think her name was Sam

    • Posted by Isabelle on

      Yes, her name is Samantha Kelly, she is a nurse at the care unit in Puvirnituq. =)

  6. Posted by Harry Tommy Echalook on

    Everything in Nunavik is outdated.
    Nunavik is still in 1970-80’s when it comes to infrastructure and their authorities.
    We are govern by uneducated people and it’s time to admit it.
    Our vote did this.
    It’s time to renegotiate

  7. Posted by Uqittuk Mark on

    I doubt very much if a newer aircraft would’ve fared any better in extreme turbulence like that. They are aged l’ll grand that. But it proved it’s durability. Tough old birds.

    • Posted by John on

      Try reading the article, this was due to autopilot malfunctioned. These old birds need more maintenance and inspections done to keep them from falling apart in the skies, time to pave the runways and get newer jets for safety reasons.

  8. Posted by Buckle up on

    Some rough weather over Nunavik. More turbulence theses days with change in climate. That’s the reality of flying. But Nunavik do have its problems with poor quality. More outstanding that most parts of this country. Whether it be airstrips or aging aircraft. And may I add: our pilots are the best there are, we just need to keep the weed and drug users out of the system as time goes. We need to be concerned about what’s getting license as pilots from that flight school in kuujjuaq. Other than that we’re ok.

  9. Posted by Uncle Buck on

    This has nothing to do with those who govern us. It was a systematic malfunction.
    Airplanes are under diligent care and governed by TSB.

    This could have ended much worse. Good job by able pilots.

  10. Posted by Lead by on

    It’s difficult to put cause and effect to this situation. System failure, ok. One thing is correct, Nunavik is absolutely governed by uneducated people, with the small cult of things, not to worry, cause it’s only a superficial leadership in the uneducated. Nunavik, may I add and assure you has it real leadership in our Quebec and Canada government. And the head offices are not in Kuujjuaq, thankfully. The next time you see a local uneducated leader, just remember, it only iconic, therefore education not required.

  11. Posted by Inuk Tuinak on

    Passengers said there was no Turbulence.

    • Posted by Interesting on

      No turbulence is an interesting probability. Therefore more to the drop in attitude than put as turbulence. It look look a very significant drop in attitude, we need to hear more from air inuit , and or transport Canada. And we need to know it, not to be quessing about it. No cover up, please, just the facts of what happened. Yes , this is interesting as we acknowledge turbulence and system failure same time. Hum.

      • Posted by Crusty on

        Autopilot malfunction, sounds like a issue with their autopilot, maybe they could not turn it off and had to pull the switchboard?

        Glad they recovered and everyone is ok for the most part, I am sure some got the fright of their life.

Comments are closed.