According to media reports, the pilot reported a fire indicator alarm in the cargo hold, which prompted the emergency landing shortly after the wide-bodied aircraft took off with over 200 passengers on board.
Residents of an Oistins community near the final approach flight-path for aircraft into the Barbadian airport apparently went into panic as the aircraft made an unusually low approach to the runway’s threshold.
One Barbadian media house quoted an eyewitness as saying, “I was here in the front house sitting down and I hear ‘Murder! Murder!’ and see people in the gap running, so I bound to door, and I say this plane real low. I turned way… If that plane had landed, nobody would have lived,” said Cicely Drayton who was visiting relatives in Christ Church at the time.
According to another media report, private jet charter executive Bassam Al-Sarraj, who had been in contact with someone who was aboard the Air Canada 967 flight, said his friend heard a “bang.”
“There was some shaking and the aircraft didn’t get very high. It turned around and landed,” said Al-Sarraj, the chief executive officer of Jet Management Corp.
A spokesman for the airline, Peter Fitzpatrick, said “The pilot elected to return to Barbados as a precautionary measure after receiving a cargo hold indicator warning. The landing was normal, and our maintenance crews did inspect the aircraft. There was no fire.”
In other airline news, Caribbean airline LIAT issued a statement yesterday (6th Feb.) apparently to assure inquiring travellers of the safety of its new French manufactured ATR aircraft. LIAT now operates the same type of aircraft as the TransAsia plane that crashed in Taiwan on Wednesday, 4th February.
The unfortunate and dramatic crash was captured on video that later went viral on the net.
The release issued by LIAT’s head of corporate communications, Desmond Brown, states as follows:
“It is with regret that the Management and Staff of LIAT, the Caribbean Airline, received the news of Wednesday’s accident involving an ATR 72-600 aircraft operated by TransAsia Airways.
The LIAT Board of Directors, Management and Staff wish to express deepest sympathy to the families, friends and all those who were affected by the accident.
As one of the operators of the Avions de Transport Regional (ATR) aircraft in the Caribbean, LIAT has received queries from different quarters about the ATR aircraft in the aftermath of the accident.
In addition to the operators in the Caribbean, many airlines around the world operate ATR aircraft with a combined total of more than 5000 flights per day.
For 58 years, the safety of our passengers and crew has always been paramount in our plans and this continues to be our highest priority.
The European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) is the multi-national safety and airworthiness oversight body and the regulator of the manufacturer, ATR. Both parties, having safety as their paramount concern, will assess the need for any directives to be issued for the worldwide fleet, if necessary. To date, EASA has not issued any such directive.
LIAT and its own regulator the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) are guided by any such directive, and LIAT would ensure our immediate compliance in the event of any directive being issued.
Last year was one of the most fatal years for plane crashes in recent memory, but aviation safety experts say the numbers underscore how safe flying remains.
The eight major accidents in 2014, involving passenger flights, represent a record low since the advent of modern aviation in 1946, said Harro Ranter, the president of Aviation Safety Network.