It was fear and terror all round as one hundred and sixty-eight passengers aboard a WestJet flight at Toronto’s Pearson Airport almost lost their lives.
The Boeing 737 plane the passengers were on caught fire after a Sunwing jet which was being moved by third-party on-the-ground staff crashed into their plane.
The WestJet Boeing 747 plane had just arrived from the return leg of a holiday trip to Cancun, West Mexico and had one-hundred and sixty-eight passengers on it including the pilot and other airplane personnel.
The incidence which had the passengers on the flight fearing for their lives took place at approximately 6 pm local time at Toronto’s Pearson Airport.
The collision between the Sunwing jet and the Boeing 747 caused the empty Sunwing jet to catch fire before the flames crossed over into the wings of the 747.
The passengers screamed in panic in their seats before being
rushed off the aircraft on the emergency slides, into the freezing Toronto night.
Initially, when the planes crashed into each other, there was still a measure of calmness as some passengers even had the presence of mind to start filming.
One video showed children frantically looking around and yelling as they awaited instruction while a voice could be heard yelling out amidst the fracas ‘Calm down, that’s not our plane on fire.’
Gustavo Lobo, a passenger on the WestJet flight, said passengers heard a crunch when the other aircraft collided with it.
Gustavo said to CBC News,
‘Out of nowhere there was an audible crunch and the plane rocked slightly. We looked out the window and saw that the plane had backed up into us. Everyone was a little shocked and kind of chuckling at the situation.’
He further described that it was when the fire started that panic set in.
‘Panic set in when we saw what seemed to be fuel spewing from the crash. After a couple of seconds, the entire thing ignited and it was chaos inside the plane. People screaming and panicking all while the flight attendants shouted to try and control the situation.’
According to a spokesperson for WestJet, passengers were evacuated from the aircraft via emergency slides and all were safely in the terminal and clearing area shortly after the collision.
Spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said,
‘Due to the position of the aircraft on the laneway, WestJet guests required evacuation via the emergency slide. Emergency crews were on hand and responded immediately’
Westjet said in a statement.
Sunwing who owns the plane which crashed into the Boeing 747 full of passengers is laying the blame squarely at the foot of ground handlers working for a third-party company called Swissport.
‘We are aware of an incident that occurred shortly after 6 pm this evening at Toronto Pearson Airport where a Sunwing aircraft, under tow by our ground handling service provider, came into contact with another aircraft’.
The statement released by Sunwing continued,
‘There were no Sunwing crew or passengers onboard at the time of the incident. We are awaiting further information from Swissport and will provide more details as they become available.
Swissport, on the other hand, have remained mum on the incident which thankfully claimed no lives.