Bird strike
NWT Air plane makes emergency landing

Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jul 03/98) - A bird strike is being blamed for the flame-out of a First Air 737 engine upon takeoff at the Edmonton airport on Wednesday.

Charles Dent, NWT minister of education, culture and employment, was on the flight, which he said involved some tense moments.

"There was a loud bang and you feel the effect of the bird going into the engine," Dent said yesterday.

Dent, who was not seated on a window seat and didn't see smoke or fire, heard some passengers a couple of rows back say that they could see flames come out of the engine.

The minister, on his way back home from meetings in Ottawa, said he was a little nervous when the accident occurred.

"You're a little bit nervous anytime you hear a loud noise -- something going thump in an airplane. It wasn't as if the airplane was all over the place. I think obviously the crew have practised for those kinds of situation and handled it quite well," he said.

Following the mishap, the pilot tried to return to Edmonton, but thick fog hindered their approach. The plane had to be flown with its single engine to Calgary. Upon safe arrival passengers were put on board another plane for Edmonton to make a mid-day connecting flight to Yellowknife.

"It was handled very professionally. When we got to Yellowknife they offered everybody a little something for their inconvenience. There was no concern about the way the plane handled and everything. These things happen," said Dent.

Julia Mott, manager of sales and marketing with First Air, verified the bird strike with flight 951 on departure from Edmonton.

"The aircraft with 42 passengers and crew diverted to Calgary airport due to Edmonton weather. The aircraft landed uneventfully at 9 a.m.," said Mott.

"An investigation is under way.... That's all I can tell you because that's all I know."