Topic of the Week: Finding a Stranded Boat

Air Canada

Let’s end the week with a little bit of awesome. An Air Canada flight into Sydney went out of its way to descend down to 4,000 feet in order to look for a missing boater. Incredibly, they found him. Would you have had an issue with the diversion if you were a passenger? Have you see this done before?

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30 comments on “Topic of the Week: Finding a Stranded Boat

    1. I originally thought of this Southwest incident when I emailed this article to CF.. But the major difference in this case is that the WN plane was flying too close to the Cirrus plane and not maintaing proper separation, not that they helped.

      There is a bit less of a safety margin at 4,000 feet in the 747, but still an adequate one with a sharp eyed pilot at the controls.

  1. Not sure if other comment made it (CF – please delete this message if it did), but in 1978 a Cessna got lost over the Pacific, and an Air NZ flight spent time helping to look for it. Made into a rubbish film called Mercy Mission – Rescue of Flight 771

  2. I’m sure some people who needed to get to Sydney didn’t like the delay, and if I needed to get there asap or was sick I would not be happy about the delay. But I also know if I was in that boat, I’d be grateful to be found and would be happy to see a jetliner fly really low to locate me and let me know they saw me.

    And if Air Canada is smart they will go for the ‘good’ feeling of all this in the publics eye and not do something stupid and send the guy a bill for fuel used like an American carrier would do.

  3. I was a bit surprised that a commercial jet got pressed into service like this. I remember a year or so ago that WN pilots got reprimanded because they responded to an air traffic control request to verify the position of another plane.

    I wonder if the response would be different if this was a US carrier and not a Canadian carrier?

  4. Absolutely no problem with a diversion like this. This was a long flight anyway so what is another hour? Was it an inconvenience, yes. But it may have been life or death for the boater. As a passenger on that plane, I would have been proud to have been able to help.

  5. If there was no risk to to aircraft or passengers and the aircraft has the capacity to do so, I cannot imagine a more important use of the time and resources to save a life or lives. Commendable quick thinking and a job well done by all. Clearly both the airline and international air safety agencies should ensure that an appropriate protocol is in place to ensure the best decision in such a situation is made.

  6. Well, it is all about “me,” and the bottom line. What value is life anyway? So many on the earth. Sea storms are natural population control mechanisms. REALLY? why is this even an issue? How callous we are to have to even consider if this was a good thing. Shows the arrogance of the human race to worry about self to the cost of others. I say Thank You to the crew. As for the passengers. Get over it. And, Cranky, get over it, too.

  7. I’ve flown over a million miles on United and I’d have no problem at all with this. It’s kind of nice to see a company do the right thing once in a while, since that doesn’t seem to occur very often any more. Cheers to the Canadians.

  8. Working on the assumption that it was a qualified distress situation and the AC flight was the most viable option for locating it, I have no issue at all. At that point it is the right thing to do.

    There is a long tradition of mariners and aviators lending aid. In fact I believe reasonable aid is even a provision of maritime law (I’m extending to aviation)

  9. If I was in the boat that would have been the greatest thing to see, Air Canada and the Pilots should be honored for doing the right thing and what a great PR oppertunity to feature the people on the boat thanking the pilots. I dont think other airlines would take the time or even care. My next trip to europe I will fly Air Canada.

  10. Good for the Air Canada pilots and whoah to any passenger who complains. They’d probably get the same treatment Helen Hayes gave to the “complainer” in the original “Airport” movie.
    Don’t sell any of the other pilots short either. Everyone is properly giving kudos to the AC crew but I met 99+ out of 100 other pilots, regardless of nationality or flag would gladly do the same (if they had the fuel!) It’s a world-wide fraternity of service that would gladly put its airmanship to good use to assist another. (No, I’m not a pilot but I know plenty of them and can’t see anyone saying no).

  11. I think there’s some important details missing, like how long the delay or diversion was. But personally I would’ve loved to be involved in this, and I think it’s a great thing they were able to help!

  12. It is something that gets done quite regularly in our part of the world. I remembered South Africa to Australia flights being rerouted to check on missing yachts (with EPIRBs). It used to be the case, and Im not sure now, that operators were refunded out of pocket costs by the Australian Search and Rescue Organisation.

  13. I think it would be fun to fly at 4000 ft above the ocean, especially in a big long haul widebody. Probably feels like you’re really moving at that altitude.

  14. According to one press report, the AC flight was 90 minutes late but most of the delay was attributed to weather-related diversion.

  15. This is neat, since the rescue folks knew the GPS coordinates, all the pilots had to do was plug them in and try to get a visual. The newest personal locator beacons have the ability to broadcast directly to commercial jets their position and a rescue plea.

  16. Lets not forget that an Air NZ A320 was also tasked to assist.

    For those who disagree with the AC / NZ crews – what if you were in the water and saw an airplane flying over you at FL350??????

  17. Can’t say this has ever happened on a flight I’ve been on. But I’d have zero problem with diverting for a distress call, as long as it could be done safely. It’s the right thing to do.

  18. if we were informed by the flight staff what was going on i would be ok with it …we were on a Caribbean cruise when the boat(large 3500 ++people) turned 360 to pick up cuban boat people

  19. I’m a frequent flyer but never witnessed anything quite like this. Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem with it as long as the safety was guaranteed. In fact, it is likely to be an incredible experience and how many of us can claim to flying at 4,000 feet along the coast in a 777.

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