Yesterday afternoon Air France flight AF66, an A380 en route from Paris to Los Angeles, lost an engine over Greenland. The plane diverted to Goose Bay, Canada (YYR) where a new set of challenges loomed. Getting the plane fixed is one thing, of course, but for the 400+ passengers on board AF66 getting out of Goose Bay is the name of the game. And it happened in a most interesting way, also affecting other passengers in Canada and bringing JV partner Delta Air Lines into the mix.
— marley.remy (@theamadoor) September 30, 2017
— Jacob Barker (@JacobBarkerCBC) September 30, 2017
Air France ultimately used two aircraft to get passengers out of Goose Bay. The first was a Nolinor 737-300 brought in as a charter flight. It carried one set of passengers to Winnipeg for a technical stop (the 733 doesn’t have the range and the crew likely needed a swap) before continuing on to Los Angeles. The second plane involved was an Air France 777-300ER that was in Montreal, scheduled to fly to Paris as AF349 on Saturday night. That flight was canceled (meaning a few hundred passengers needed to be rebooked) and the aircraft ferried to Goose Bay.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) October 1, 2017
The 777 arrived around 3 in the morning and passengers were moved over to it from the A380. It finally departed Goose Bay around 7am but did not go to Los Angeles to deliver its passengers. Instead the plane flew to Atlanta (AF4080). The diverted passengers cleared immigration and customs in Atlanta and then mostly set off on a Delta 777-200LR (DL9860) specially chartered to get them through the final leg to LA.
That last bit, the extra flight and connecting in Atlanta, is particularly interesting. I can only speculate as to the reasons, but I have a couple ideas.
- Not everyone was going to Los Angeles. Most were, of course, but the Atlanta connection lets anyone not headed to LA connect on a different flight and probably get to their intended destination more quickly.
- Getting the crew and the 777 back into rotation reasonably quickly is something Air France has to deal with so as to minimize future flight delays and cancelations. As it is the company is without one of its ten A380s for the foreseeable future while Airbus and Engine Alliance engineers work to get a replacement engine transported to Goose Bay and installed on the aircraft while carrying out all the other necessary inspections to make sure the aircraft is fit to fly. Depending on the typical crew staffing (how many pilots are typically scheduled to work the trip) it is possible that they could still get it back to either Montreal or Paris today rather than leaving it out of position another full day. Taking the plane to Los Angeles would’ve almost certainly required such. Of course, the longer ground time in Goose Bay doesn’t help that plan much.
My understanding is that there is a bit of chaos in Atlanta with the transfer there but that passengers are mostly being handled. Evacuating 500 people from a remote strip in Canada is not easy. Air France did not do a perfect job (e.g. no food vouchers in ATL from what I hear) but, weighing all the needs and options, I’d say getting a pair of 777s into position that quickly and moving passengers along is pretty impressive.
Also, this idiot:
— David Schirmer (@davidschirmer) October 1, 2017
Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.