MONTREAL, Nov. 30 /CNW Telbec/ - Safety is Air Canada's first priority and the airline provides the following comments on false and misleading allegations made today by the Canadian Federal Pilots Association, a union representing Transport Canada's aviation inspectors.
The allegations refer to Flight AC 271 en route from Toronto to Winnipeg on October 9, 2009, which diverted to Grand Forks, North Dakota, due to a runway closure at the Winnipeg airport.
The Canadian Federal Pilots Association alleges falsely that AC271 departed Grand Forks with ice on its wings. In fact, the flight only departed after a visual inspection of the wings by flight crew, in accordance with Transport Canada regulations, determined there was no ice on the wings.
The Canadian Federal Pilots Association also alleges safety was compromised during the refueling process at Grand Forks. Due to the unavailability of ground power at the diversion airport, Air Canada's flight crew, in consultation with flight dispatchers, elected to refuel the aircraft with the passengers onboard and one engine running. While Air Canada is not certified by the regulator for this procedure, the aircraft manufacturer's specifications allow fueling with the engines running. As an additional safeguard emergency vehicles were present.
Transport Canada was notified immediately of the incident and the airline continues to work with the regulator to review its procedures to determine whether changes are required.
The aviation inspectors made the allegations during a federal government Transport Committee hearing as part of a presentation on Safety Management Systems introduced by Transport Canada in recent years.