Passengers disembark a Westjet aircraft that skidded off the runway at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020. The airline confirmed Flight 248 was en route from Toronto to Halifax and had landed on Runway 14 when the jet skidded off the end of the runway with 172 passengers and seven crew members aboard. The company said there were no injuries. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Passengers removed from WestJet aircraft after it skids off Halifax runway

The eastern half of the province was under a winter storm warning when the jet landed

A passenger jet skidded off the end of a runway at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport during a snowstorm on Sunday, but a spokeswoman for WestJet said there were no injuries.

The airline confirmed Flight 248 — en route from Toronto to Halifax — landed just after noon and overshot Runway 14 with 172 passengers and seven crew members aboard.

Photos from the scene suggest the Boeing 737-800 escaped major damage. However, the airport authority confirmed the aircraft was left disabled at the end of the runway.

Passenger Eric Wynne, a photographer with the daily Halifax Chronicle-Herald, said the landing was “a little chaotic.”

“It was a little more violent, in that I’m sure (the plane) had a bit of wind shear,” he said in an interview. “As we hit the tarmac, it was rocking, rolling side to side, but the aircrew kept it true and straight.”

Wynne said once the aircraft settled down, everything seemed normal — until the plane came to a stop.

“We saw snow-covered grass outside the windows,” he said. “And then the pilot came on and said we slid off the runway.”

The transition to the grassy area was a smooth one, Wynne said.

“It was just like me driving my car and ending up on the shoulder,” he said, adding that the jet appeared to have travelled about 50 metres beyond the runway.

“It was snowing, but not a lot,” he said. “But there was an accumulation on the ground.”

Wynne said the crew and passengers remained calm as buses arrived to take them to the terminal.

All passengers were removed from the stricken airplane by 2:30 p.m. However, the plane had yet to be moved by 6 p.m. local time.

The eastern half of the province, including the region east of Halifax, was under a winter storm warning when the jet landed. Heavy snow and whiteout conditions were evident at the airport soon after the plane came down.

ALSO READ: Dozens of flights cancelled in Montreal as ice storm hits Eastern Canada

WestJet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said the airline later issued an apology to travellers and cancelled three flights into St. John’s, N.L., Halifax and Toronto.

Later in the day, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada confirmed it had sent an investigative team to the airport. The independent agency, which investigates air, rail, marine and pipeline accidents, released the aircraft to WestJet at 4:30 p.m.

On Nov. 7, 2018, a Boeing 747 cargo jet overshot the same runway, plowed through some approach lights and navigation gear, and came close to crashing through the airport’s outer fence.

The SkyLease Cargo plane was badly damaged as it slid 210 metres off the end of the runway in rainy conditions while being buffeted by a crosswind with a potential tailwind.

Flight KKE 4854, which had arrived from Chicago just after 5 a.m., was to be loaded with live lobster destined for China.

At the time, the airport authority was in the process of installing a runway-end safety area, a kind of buffer strip that gives planes extra stopping distance and can reduce damage and risk to passengers in the event of an overrun.

The Transportation Safety Board says all runways longer than 1,800 metres should have a 300-metre runway-end safety area or a means of stopping aircraft that provides an equivalent level of safety. Runway 14 is 2,300 metres long.

Since 2005, there have been 140 runway overruns in Canada, 19 of which have been the subject of a comprehensive TSB investigation.

— With files from Andrew Vaughan.

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Victoria plumbing company dedicates van for grocery delivery

The Super Plumber uses van to pick up groceries for those in need during COVID-19 pandemic

Digitization of Peninsula News Review by Sidney Museum and Archives preserves historical legacy

Searchable database will ease research and preserve integrity of records

Food safety a good practice amid COVID-19 concerns

BC Centre for Disease Control offers useful food safe information for households

Fictionalized accounts of pandemics offer glimpses into our COVID-19 present

Contagion might capture the contemporary mood, but pandemics have a long tradition in fiction

B.C. announces $3M for food banks to increase capacity during COVID-19

It is not clear how much of the money will flow towards Greater Victoria food banks

COVID-19: A message from the publisher

We will be making some changes to our print editions during these unprecedented times

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

World COVID-19 update: U.S. expects 100,000 deaths; Oregon declares disaster

Comprehensive update of world news for Sunday, March 19.

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Most Read