Air Canada flight from Vancouver may have sustained engine damage, mayday recording suggests

CBC News

An Air Canada flight with 170 passengers on board landed safely early Thursday morning after striking birds during its descent to the Ottawa International Airport.

The airline said the plane involved was flight AC 342, an A321 Airbus.

Records on flight tracking website Flight Aware said the plane landed around 12:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, making it to the gate about 1:20 a.m.

Audio recordings from recorded the pilot issuing a mayday call after it appears the aircraft hit a flock of birds, damaging one of its engines.

The pilot on the recording issues the mayday call and then calmly says, “We hit a flock of birds. We have had an engine failure.” The pilot also tells the tower the plane has “178 souls on board.”

Once the plane is on the ground another pilot on the recording says they intend to wait for emergency crews to inspect the plane and ensure there isn’t significant damage.

Michelle Brazier was on board the plane, coming back from Vancouver. She said the flight was routine right up until the landing.

She said she could smell smoke in the cabin just after the apparent bird strike, but she didn’t see any smoke.

She thought the problem was a landing gear problem, because of when it happened. Passengers only found out it was a bird strike once the plane was on the ground.

‘My anxiety level definitely increased’

Passengers were kept on the runway for about 45 minutes, Brazier said. The pilot came on the intercom and explained the situation and told them emergency crews were just checking for damage to the plane.

She said the crew was excellent and stayed calm throughout the process.

“At one point close to when we landed all the flight attendants basically just sprinted down the aisle, which was a little nerve racking but no one was yelling, no one was screaming or anything,” she said.

She said the landing felt normal as well, but she was still rattled by the experience.

“My anxiety level definitely increased dramatically after we landed. I was texting some people in Vancouver and my hands were shaking as I was texting,” she said.

Brazier said once the plane was towed to the gate, everyone got off just like a regular landing. She said paramedics were waiting at the gate, but she doesn’t believe anyone was injured.

The plane is now in maintenance, Air Canada said.