British Airways isn’t saying much, to the media or to 400 passengers, about why one of its A380s diverted more than 1,000 miles across western Canada Monday night for an unscheduled landing in Vancouver. Part of the mystery is that the story on the cause for the diversion of Flight 286 from San Francisco to Heathrow keeps changing. Adding to the intrigue is that most, if not all, of those whisked to hospital after the uneventful landing were crew members, who paraded off the plane wearing portable oxygen masks in front of the passengers, who hadn’t been told that there was any sort of problem with the air onboard. There were 25 crew on the aircraft and 25 people were taken to hospital. First reports suggested smoke in the cabin but the emergency seemed to fade as the aircraft made a 90-degree turn over Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (which could have recovered the aircraft, if inconveniently). By Tuesday, BA was saying that an unspecified number of its cabin crew were “unwell” and the diversion was out of an abundance of caution.
The captain initially told passengers they were going to Calgary, which sports a brand new 16,000 foot runway with a CAT IIIb approach that is intended for big, long-range aircraft, but the pilots apparently didn’t like the weather there (calm, with no precipitation but temperature and dewpoint matching). So they hopped over the Rockies to Vancouver, which had a 15-knot wind right down the runway and already handles BA A380 flights. The diversion took about two hours and all the people who were taken to the hospital were checked and released. BA staff in Vancouver found hotels and rebooked the passengers, who filtered out on Tuesday morning but criticized the lack of information from the airline.
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For further information from British Airways click here – in other words, no information…