Engine Swap In High Arctic


Sometimes it takes a village to fix an airplane and a remote Canadian town is sharing some of the credit for getting a Swiss International Airlines Boeing 777 back into revenue service. On Feb. 1 Swiss Flight LX 40 from Zurich to Los Angeles diverted to Iqaluit (formerly called Frobisher Bay), population 8,000, on Baffin Island, about 2,000 miles north of New York. One of its engines detected a fault and automatically shut down. The plane landed safely on the former U.S. Army Air Force base’s 8,600-foot runway and a plane was dispatched from New York to pick up the 233 passengers and crew. On that flight were maintenance technicians who inspected the airliner and determined the engine had to be changed.

A couple of days later, a chartered An-124 delivered a replacement engine but the 777 was too big for any of the hangars at Iqaluit, which is served by two airlines whose largest equipment is 737s. An insulated tent was pitched around the engine and heaters fired up inside against the -30 weather. With help from the airlines and a local maintenance shop, the Swiss mechanics swapped the engine and the aircraft was able to fly back to Zurich Feb. 8.