by Sonja Bochow | January 7, 2018 2:19 am
It was a cold, chaotic, and very frightening evening for some passengers arriving home to Toronto’s Pearson Airport from a trip to sunny Cancun, Mexico on Friday night. At approximately 6 PM, their jet was sitting on the tarmac awaiting clearance to deplane, when an empty Sunwing jet backed into the WestJet Boeing 737. The collision caused a fire, throwing the passengers into a huge panic.
The fire was caused by the collision, which ignited some leaking fuel. People were screaming and crying. One person could be heard yelling that everyone needed to calm down, and that the fire was on the other plane, not their plane. The emergency slides were deployed in order for the passengers and crew to safely exit the plane. The location of the fire made deplaning through the usual doors unsafe. The night was a cold one as the passengers were escorted into the airport after their ordeal.
Apparently, the empty Sunwing aircraft was being moved by a third party company known as Swissport, which employs grounds crew to manage aircraft for various airlines. A passenger on the WestJet flight, Gustavo Lobo, said “Out of nowhere there was an audible crunch and the plane rocked slightly. We looked out the window and saw that the plane had backed up into us. Everyone was a little shocked and kind of chuckling at the situation.”
But the chuckling didn’t last for long, as the situation began to escalate. Lobo continued, saying, “Panic set in when [we saw] what seemed to be fuel spewing from the crash. After a couple of seconds the entire thing ignited and it was chaos inside the plane. People screaming and panicking all while the flight attendants shouted to try and control the situation.”
A spokesperson for WestJet stated, “Due to the position of the aircraft on the laneway, WestJet guests required evacuation via emergency slide. Emergency crews were on hand and responded immediately.”
As for Sunwing, the company tweeted the following statement; “We are aware of an incident that occurred shortly after 6pm this evening at Toronto Pearson Airport where a Sunwing aircraft, under tow by our ground handling service provider, came into contact with another aircraft. There were no Sunwing crew or passengers onboard at the time of the incident. We are awaiting further information from Swissport and will provide more details as they become available.”
Greater Toronto Airports Authority extinguished a small fire on the Sunwing aircraft and said that some flight operations were affected by the accident.
Canada’s Transportation Safety Board is also investigating.
From the sunny beaches of Cancun to the frigid airport tarmac of Toronto, the WestJet passengers encountered more than they bargained for. Thankfully everyone is safe. And we will all be waiting to see what occurred to cause such a potentially dangerous incident.
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