'Big fireball': Bird strikes, flames force emergency landing in Calgary
Published Thursday, November 19, 2015 1:42PM EST
A plane headed for Fort McMurray was forced to make an impromptu landing at the Calgary International Airport on Wednesday, after at least two birds collided with the aircraft's engines, sparking fiery flashes.
Passenger Rob Pendry captured the scene in a cell phone video taken just minutes after the plane took off from the Calgary airport.
In the footage, bursts of flames and sparks fly out of an engine on the Canadian North 737.
According to officials from Canadian North airlines, the fiery bursts were caused when at least two birds struck an engine.
The chartered flight was carrying 134 passengers and crew to Fort McMurray and Fort McKay at the time. All of the passengers were workers headed to the Horizons Oil Sands Camp.
The crew says the bird strikes didn't spark an engine fire, but pieces of the birds were set alight.
"We have no indication that (the engine) was actually on fire," Kelly Lewis, a spokesperson from the airline told CTV Calgary. "It ingested quite a bit of bird parts and so it was ejecting that out of the back end."
For passengers, the fiery display was initially startling.
"All of the sudden there was this big bang and we see the big flash beside our head and this big fireball," Pendry said.
Then, passengers say, the plane began to shake.
Running on a single engine, the pilot began to circle the Calgary airport, burning off fuel and waiting for a safe moment to land.
Meanwhile, on the ground, emergency crews prepared for anything that could go wrong.
After about 30 minutes, the pilot guided the plane to a safe landing.
The passenger erupted into cheers.
Canadian North says bird strikes are not uncommon on flights, and that it trains its crews to safely deal with the issue.
Pilots complete simulator training every six months, to prepare for similar incidents, the airline said.
After the safe landing, some passengers decided to stay grounded overnight, taking up rooms in a nearby hotel.
Others managed to board another flight later that night.
"We're ready to go back up again," Pendry said. "(I've) gotta' get to work!"
With files from CTV Calgary