An Icelandair flight made an emergency landing in Quebec late Friday night after pilots noticed that a cockpit window had cracked.
There were reports the plane had to make a rapid drop to the ground – at one point, coming down 26,000 feet in just 10 minutes. The flight had left Orlando, Fla. and was headed for Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik before it was diverted to Saguenay, Que.
Harrison Hove was on board the plane and says passengers weren’t initially told the cockpit window had been shattered by 20 centimetres.
“I was in the back of the airplane stretching my legs … and all of a sudden you hear a ding like you would hear for the ‘fasten your seatbelt’ sign, and immediately two flight attendants booked it to the front,” he told CTV News Channel Saturday. “They didn’t run but it was fast.”
Hove thought it was strange and said while he was in the bathroom he could feel the plane quickly start to descend and hefelt his ears pop.
“It started to get a little turbulent,” he said, adding that he quickly made his way back to his seat.
“It was rather frightening because we knew something was going on but we didn’t know what,” Hove said, adding that crew simply told them to do exactly what the pilots were asking. Over the intercom, the captain reassured passengers that he was “complete control.”
“Well, that ratchets up the anxiety level even more,” Hove said. He noticed that a passenger sitting next to him was visibly shaking.
He said they weren’t told what happened until the flight was on the tarmac. A passenger on board was a mechanic and was allowed into the cockpit to view the size of the crack.
Aviation expert Phyl Durdey told CTV News Channel that once the cockpit windows had cracked it was critical that pilots lower the plane in order to depressurize the cabin and take the stress off the window.
“The aircraft was at 35,000 feet … so there was a differential in pressure between the outside of the airplane and the inside,” he said. “If there’s a structural failure, you don’t want that window … completely shattering.”
Durdey added that based on what he heard, the pilots did exactly what they’re trained to do.
He said that although it’s rare that windows crack, it does happen. The windows are generally strong enough to remain intact after being hit by bird or other concussive blows, he said.
The airline’s Twitter account confirmed that flight FI688 was over Canada when pilots noticed the crack in the window.
Hello @Icelandair, I just heard that FI688 has squawked 7700 and diverted to Sagunay Bagotville Airport (YBG). I would like to know why FI688 went 7700 and diverted to YBG? Thanks
— Solomon Shtrom (@Solshtrom) October 20, 2018
At the time, Hove said he didn’t know when the flight would resume because the captain told them “there was no way that we would be flying on that (plane) until repairs were made.”
But the airline’s Twitter account tweeted that another plane would pick them up later on Saturday.
The 155 passengers and 7 crew were taken to a hotel for rest and another aircraft will pick them up later today.
— Icelandair (@Icelandair) October 20, 2018
Icelandair says the crew followed standard procedures, and diverted to a nearby airport in Bagotville, Que. The airline also said that the 155 passengers and seven crewmembers on board were taken to a hotel to rest.