One Seattle-Bound Aircraft Evacuated, Another Diverted


A planeload of Delta passengers left their A321 on slides instead of the jet bridge Monday after a fire started in the front landing gear well. Airport authorities said the fire started after the aircraft was plugged into shore power after a flight from Cancun. The crew called for an emergency evacuation with a PA announcement quoted by one passenger as: “Drop your belongings, unbuckle and head to the exits.” There were 189 passengers and six crew onboard and no one was hurt. Meanwhile, 272 passengers and crew on an Air France Boeing 787 who were also on their way to Seattle instead ended up spending the day in the remote town of Iqaluit in the Canadian territory of Nunavut on Tuesday.

A “heat smell” in the cabin prompted the crew to make an emergency landing in the town of about 8,000 people, which, as the economic and government hub of the vast area, has an airport with an 8,605-foot runway. The Dreamliner will apparently have an extended stay in Iqaluit. The airline sent a 777 to pick up the passengers and it took off late Tuesday but it went to JFK instead of Seattle, leaving passengers with another six-hour flight to get to their destination. Airliners on the busy polar routes between North America and Europe use Iqaluit for diversions every few months, according to local officials.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. The title is misleading … I had to read it twice before I figured out what you intended, Russ.
    I’d add the word TWO in front of the title.

  2. Actually not- because ONE aircraft was actually “evacuated” (Delta A321) while the other aircraft- (AF B787); was “DIVERTED.”
    So, Russ, you stand as “vindicated.”

    Th …. “Karens” … abound.

    • The original headline was less clear and I fixed it when I saw Larry’s comment. I should have deleted Larry’s comment after I fixed the hed so it all just got more confusing for those who frequent this area. Apologies to both of you:)

      • Yes … and I shoulda brought it to your attention in another way, too, Russ. Signed: “Karen S”

  3. It would be nice to know the outcome and cause of these events. Did the Scud (A320) burn to the ground? What caused the stink in the 787? Other than an upset Airbus fan. We’re aviation buffs that come here for the facts. Not a repeat of TV junk news. At least you could have made separate articles rather than what appeared to be a “YA BUT”, looky here something happened to a Boeing too. And I for one, could care less to hear “one passengers” version of what was said over the PA. Russ, you need to try a bit harder.

    • Possibly somebody toking up in a lav that caused all the angst. Nice to hear there’s an alternate in the high arctic if there’s an issue and a chance for the local commissary to earn a buck (loonie) or two.

  4. In the case of the “wheel well” fire at least, from the videos it appears to have been a problem with the ground power cable/plug itself. Several of the clips show the plug and a foot or so of cable burning brightly, likely the result of an internal arc.

    • It’s a really big and heavy electrical power cord that’s connected to a ship or other large moveable device that will supply adequate power to drive fire pumps, environmental systems and basic crew necessities when onboard power is not available as when a ship is in port or other transport machines are not powered up. Without shore power onboard systems provide the electrical power to operate the normal ship’s functions needing engineers, juniors and oilers as well as fire patrols and watchkeeping officers on duty to ensure safety and viability of the enterprise. It costs money!