Engine fire on an Air Canada Jazz plane forces emergency landing

NANAIMO, B.C. - Crew members aboard an Air Canada Express turboprop aircraft managed to put out an engine fire before returning to an airport on central Vancouver Island Thursday morning, says a Transportation Safety Board investigator.

Glen Friesen, the TSB's acting regional manager, said passengers saw flames in the plane's No. 2 engine at about 7:30 a.m., shortly after the Dash 8-300 took off from the Nanaimo Airport.

"The crew extinguished the fire with the emergency fire bottles that are installed on each engine," said Friesen.

The engine was shut down and the plane returned to the airport, which is located just south of Nanaimo, B.C., and in the community of Cassidy, B.C.

He said one engine is capable of sustaining flight in the Dash 8-300.

Russ Burke, chairman of the Nanaimo Airport Commission, said emergency crews surrounded the plane quickly.

"All the passengers deplaned out on the runway, and emergency crews from both the airport and the... local fire departments and RCMP all responded," he said.

There were 35 passengers aboard.

"Everybody was fine, as far as I know not even minor injuries. They put the fire out quickly of course."

Friesen said the TSB is working with the company to determine what caused the problem and will then decide on how it will follow up on the incident.

Debra Williams, a spokeswoman for Jazz Aviation, said three crew members were aboard the plane at the time of the incident, the plane was headed to Vancouver, and the company's maintenance crew is now in Nanaimo to take a look at the aircraft.

"Our crews are well trained to deal with such emergency situations and responded according to our standard operating procedures, and the flight landed safely and without incident," said Williams.

Williams said Jazz flies for Air Canada as Air Canada Express.

According to the Air Canada website, the Dash 8-300 has 50 seats, is manufactured by Bombardier and carries two Pratt & Whitney Turboprop engines. Its range is 1,389 kilometres and its cruising speed is 531 kilometres an hour.

-- by Keven Drews in Vancouver

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