Canada: Spillover Nation
September 11, 2001 9:30 PM   Subscribe

Canada: Spillover Nation Essentially every airport in Canada able to land a jumbo jet has done so. Halifax is packed to the walls with 44 planes; 24 at Pearson; 14 at Mirabel; two in Whitehorse, one of them, a KAL cargo plane, undergoing an escorted quasi-emergency landing because the pilot could not communicate in English with the control tower (!) to explain that the plane was low on fuel. Serious echoes of Swissair 111, where suddenly the small Atlantic airports showed themselves as invaluable and irreplaceable.
posted by joeclark (4 comments total)
Couldn't communicate in English? That's pretty bad considering English is the international language of air traffic controllers.
posted by mmascolino at 9:42 PM on September 11, 2001

This is a known weakness of the system, though. There have been several scary near-misses. English is the standard, but that doesn't mean that all international carriers have fully adopted it or are up to the bar that we expect. In 1990, a Mexican airliner kept in a holding pattern too long ran out of fuel and crashed on Long Island. The pilots were using English words to tell the tower they were low on fuel, but apparently they didn't use the right "code phrase" to ask for an emergency landing.
posted by dhartung at 10:15 PM on September 11, 2001

vancouver received some 30 (or so) planes, and running short of residence space for stranded passengers in the city. many have phoned in to offer refuge in their own homes to the travellers, and many more have offered to donate blood for the victims in new york and washington. although we often kid around with anti-american (or in your case, aboot eh?) sentiments, when these tragic events occur, we are always here to lend a helping hand, as we would expect the same of our neighbours to the south when we are in times of need. god bless you all!
posted by dai at 10:42 PM on September 11, 2001

I still don't completely understant why all these flights had to be diverted to Canada. Isn't that sort-of like saying, "I'm supposed to get a letter bomb, so I'll forward all my mail to you?"

I understand ordering flights to land at the nearest airport, but it sounds like they intentionally diverted all international flights north of the border. ???

(That said, thanks Canada for stepping up to help!)
posted by arco at 7:34 AM on September 12, 2001

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