Passenger “hijacks” Russian internal flight

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A passenger aboard a Russian internal flight said the plane had been hijacked and must divert to Vienna, Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted a law enforcement source as saying on Friday.

No official confirmation of the report was immediately available.

“At 5.20 p.m. (1320 GMT) one of the passengers on a flight from Adler to Moscow cried ‘Allah Akbar’ and announced that the flight had been hijacked and demanded to change the course from Vnukovo (airport outside Moscow) to Vienna,” Interfax quoted the source as saying.

Adler is a town on Russia’s Black Sea coast in the mainly Muslim north Caucasus.


Liberal plane diverted to Montreal

*Hmmm…didn’t it happen to Obama recently???*

The Liberal campaign’s airplane was forced to make an unexpected landing in Montreal on Tuesday evening.

The CBC’s Susan Bonner, who was on the plane and is following the Liberal campaign, said the plane’s cabin lights went off shortly after taking off from Sherbrooke, Que.

One of the plane’s two on-board generators apparently lost power, said the CBC’s James Fitz-Morris.

All those aboard the plane will be spending the night in Montreal, he said, as the problem is fixed.

The Boeing 737, owned by Air Inuit, had been scheduled to land in southern Ontario.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion was in Sherbrooke to make a health-care announcement, promising a $420-million fund to boost the numbers of doctors and nurses across the country.

He is scheduled to speak at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont., at 9:30 a.m. ET Wednesday.

Incident: Air France B744 at Toronto on Aug 24th 2008, navigation and fuel system errors

The crew of an Air France Boeing 747-400, registration F-GITF performing flight AF353 from Toronto,ON (Canada) to Paris Charles de Gaulle (France), declared PAN and requested to return to Toronto due to errors in the navigation and fuel systems. The crew dumped fuel for 40 minutes and landed safely back to Toronto 90 minutes after declaring PAN and 110 minutes after departure.

Air France jet skids off Montreal runway; no injuries

MONTREAL (AFP) — An Air France Boeing 747 arriving from Paris skidded off the runway while landing Tuesday evening at Montreal’s airport, but no one was hurt, Air France and airport personnel said.

The accident took place just before 6:00 pm (2200 GMT), said Stephanie Lepage, a spokeswoman for Montreal-Pierre Eliott Trudeau International Airport.

The plane was carrying 490 passengers and 18 crew, she added.

The plane came to rest with its nose in the grass between two runways, television images showed. Canadian media reported that the plane had a problem with its undercarriage.

“Flight AF 346 … at the start of its landing, ground to a halt with its front undercarriage (ending up) outside the runway,” Air France said in a statement.

“Nobody was injured and the passengers … were able to reach the terminal to transfer later to other flights,” it said, adding that the time of the accident was 5:44 pm (2144 GMT).

Passengers aboard the flight said the plane appeared to have trouble breaking.

“The breaks suddenly came on … We remained calm inside the plane … it was no problem. We could see the front tire had blown out and was resting on the grass,” one passenger told reporters.

“The breaks probably seized up. We waited one hour aboard the plane, but it went by quickly,” said another passenger.

“All’s that left is for us to get the luggage left on the plane,” he added.

Normal air traffic resumed later on the other runways of the airport.

Lepage said the Transportation Safety Board of Canada would investigate the mishap, and Air France also said it would conduct its own probe.

On August 2, 2005, an Air France Airbus A340 arriving from Paris overshot the runway in Toronto during a storm, plunged into a ditch and caught fire.

The 297 passengers and 12 crew members of that flight were evacuated in record time, but ten passengers and two crew members were hurt.

The weather in Montreal Tuesday evening was fair.

UPDATE 1-Ryanair plane loses pressure, 16 in hospital

LONDON, Aug 26 (Reuters) – Sixteen people were taken to hospital when a Ryanair flight from Britain to Spain made an unscheduled landing at Limoges airport in France after a loss of cabin pressure, the airline said on Tuesday.

Flight FR9336, which left Bristol airport for Barcelona late on Monday with 168 passengers on board, “experienced an inflight depressurisation incident which caused the oxygen masks on board to deploy,” the airline said.

“As a safety precaution, the captain descended and diverted the aircraft to Limoges airport at approximately 2330 local French time,” it added in a statement.

The 16 people taken to hospital had been complaining of earache, it said.

British explorer Pen Hadow, who was aboard the plane, told Sky Television the incident “was traumatic for many involved.”

“Suddenly there was a roar of wind, a rush of cold air, the oxygen masks dropped, you didn’t know what was going on.”

Hadow, who in 2003 became the first person to reach the North Pole unaided from Canada, said the oxygen masks did not seem to work.

“No oxygen was delivered through the oxygen masks and I was surprised there seemed to be no communication between the pilot and the flight attendants because they didn’t seem to know what to say and do,” Hadow told the BBC.

Passenger ‘forced to stay on Madrid crash flight’

Cabin crew aboard the the ill-fated Spanair flight which crashed on take-off at Madrid airport yesterday refused to let a passenger off despite earlier technical problems with the aircraft, the man’s family said today.

The chilling accusation came to light as the budget airline defended its decision to clear the MD-82 jet for take-off despite aborting an earlier attempt because a gauge showed an overheating air-intake valve. The device was switched off and the flight went ahead.

Of the 172 people aboard flight JK5022, only 19 survived. Witnesses said the plane’s left-hand engine burst into flame as it lifted off the runway and the aircraft broke up and crashed back to earth in flames.

The plane is designed to be able to take off even if one engine fails, but aviation sources in Spain suggested today that the burning engine might have spun round and thrown deadly debris into the aircraft’s rudder and right-hand engine. Another hypothesis emerging today was that the plane deployed its reverse-thruster, normally used at touchdown.

As relatives of those aboard the plane waited for news of their loved ones, their anger has focused on why Spanair allowed the pilot to take off despite the aircraft’s problems. Javier Mendoza, deputy director of operations for the company, told a press conference that all standard procedures had been followed.

The story of the passenger forced to remain aboard emerged at the Madrid hotel taken over by the airline to host relatives of the victims.

Spanish media said that an unidentified woman at the hotel told reporters that her husband had texted her at 12.30 pm – almost two hours before the accident – saying: “My love, there’s a problem with the plane.”

She phoned him back and told him to get off the flight, but he said: “They won’t let me off.”

The woman’s son, who was with her at the hotel, said that the cabin crew had told the man to get back in his seat.

Relatives of the passengers were arriving today at a Madrid convention centre, which also used as a makeshift morgue after the al-Qaeda train bombing of March 2003. Only 37 of the bodies have been identified so far.

“I’d kill the bastard who did this,” one man shouted at a television crew as he drove past the building.

Priests and psychologists comforted distraught relatives overnight at Barajas airport and at the Las Palmas airport on Gran Canaria, where flight JK5022 was headed. The plane was operating on a codeshare with Lufthansa although only four Germans were aboard the flight, a Bavarian family whose fate remains unclear.

According to a list published by Spanair, the vast majority of the passengers were Spanish, but officials said that there were also passengers from Sweden, the Netherlands and Chile.

The plane was 15 years old, bought by Spanair from Korean Air in 1999, and was overhauled in January.

As three days of national mourning were declared, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Prime Minsiter, interrupted his holidays in southern Spain to fly to the scene. The Spanish Olympic Committee said the Spanish flag would fly at half mast in the Olympic village in Beijing.

Spanair, owned by the Scandinavian airline SAS, has been struggling with high fuel prices and tough competition. It announced it was laying off 1,062 staff and cutting routes after losing some £40 million in the first half of the year.

Air safety experts pointed out that Europe had been free of major plane disasters in recent years but take-offs still posed the greatest risk for flight crews.

The MD-82 should be able to lift off with only one engine, and pilots are trained for such eventualities, but one hypothesis that emerged today was that the plane’s thrust reversers, normally only used for when it touches down, could have been deployed. That would explain why the pilots were unable to control the craft despite reaching normal take-off speed.

In May 1991, a Lauda Air Boeing 767 crashed in Thailand with the loss of 223 lives when the thrust reverser automatically went into operation.

“Automatic thrust reverser deployment will be one of the things that air crash investigators will be looking at,” said Dr Guy Gratton of the school of engineering and design at Brunel University in West London.