Propeller blade smashes through window on Air Canada flight

EDMONTON – One of the passengers on an  Air Canada Express flight that made an emergency landing in Edmonton had a close call when a propeller blade came through the window next to her.

The woman was one of five radio station employees from Rock 97.7 in Grande Prairie, Alta., says co-worker Melissa Menard.

Menard says her friend was sitting in row seven of the plane and as it landed on Thursday, one of the propellers smashed through the window.

“The propeller, obviously, that didn’t hit her, but the whole inside wall of the plane blew out so she had fibreglass and everything all embedded in her skin,” Menard told Global Edmonton on Friday night.

“Just from the blow of that happening, she had quite a huge head lump that was quite purple, with lots of bruises and scratches.”

The Transportation Safety Board has released a photo showing part of a propeller blade sticking out of one of the plane’s windows.

Spokeswoman Genevieve Corbin confirmed a portion of the right propeller blade was partially lodged into the fuselage of the aircraft.

“However, at this stage, we cannot speak about how it got there and the damage that it might have caused. This will be determined as we gather more information.”

As the Q400 turboprop took off from the Calgary airport en route to Grande Prairie, the pilot told the 71 passengers and three other crew that they had blown a tire, but he could still land the aircraft.

The flight was diverted to Edmonton because officials felt conditions were safer there.

Passenger Ron Prochner said he knew something was wrong when he heard an explosion on takeoff.

“There was a loud explosion and then we took off and it was like bump, bump, bump,” said Prochner, adding that people calmed down until the pilot started his approach into Edmonton International Airport.

As the plane descended to the runway passengers and crews braced for impact. When it touched down, he said the landing gear on one side of the plane collapsed.

“There were sparks. I remember smoke. I remember the horrible smell like gasoline and oil burning,” he said.

“A lot of people were really terrified. I know the young lady sitting beside me was scared. I wasn’t scared until I looked at her. It was very frightening.”

As the plane skidded across the runway something started to smash into the fuselage, Prochner said.

“There were some people that were injured from debris hitting the side of the plane. I think there was some flying glass. One fellow had a cut neck.”

When the plane finally came to a halt some passengers whistled and hollered. Others tried to grab their carry-on luggage.

Prochner said the flight attendants calmed people down and directed them out of the damaged plane.

He said all of the passengers were out on the runway in about one minute as emergency vehicles surrounded the aircraft.

“That is where the flight crew did a very good job of just telling people to just leave that stuff and just get off of the plane.”

Jazz Aviation LP said in a statement that four passengers on Flight 8481 were sent to hospital for treatment. Three were later released but one person remained in hospital Friday for observation.

Transportation Safety Board spokesman Chris Krepski said investigators would be interviewing the flight crew and air traffic controllers Friday.

“Our investigators are continuing to work on it and gather information, interview witnesses, examine the aircraft,” he said from Gatineau, Que.

Jazz said an extra flight was sent in late Thursday evening to take most of the passengers on to Grande Prairie, while those who remained in Edmonton overnight were expected to complete their trip Friday.

The airline said it’s “very grateful” there were no severe injuries and that it’s co-operating with the investigation.

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