Two injured after Porter flight avoids mid-air collision east of Toronto
Published Monday, November 14, 2016 2:01PM EST Last Updated Monday, November 14, 2016 7:00PM EST
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says it has no idea yet what got in the path of a Porter Airlines flight that had to dive suddenly in order to avoid a mid-air collision east of Toronto this morning.
The Porter Airlines flight was en route from Ottawa to Toronto when it had to perform an evasive maneuver at 9,000 feet to avoid a mid-air collision near Pickering.
According to the TSB, the c8-402 aircraft was 30 nautical miles east of Toronto and was approaching Billy Bishop Airport for landing when an unidentified object was spotted in its path at around 7:30 a.m.
“As they approached the object, they realized it was very close to their flight path and decided to take appropriate evasive action,” Porter spokesperson Brad Cicero said in an email to CP24. “There was no contact between the aircraft and object.”
The TSB dispatched two investigators to probe the incident Monday. They are still going over flight recorder and radar data, but so far there are few clues.
“We have no idea,” senior TSB investigator Peter Rowntree told CTV News in an interview. “The pilots have given us a description of what they think they saw in the brief time they had to look out the cockpit windows.”
However Rowntree noted that they had very little time to react after spotting the object.
“From the time they saw it from the time they decided they had to react, we’re talking seconds,” he said.
While the pilots couldn’t clearly identify the objects, they felt certain that they would strike it if they didn’t do something, he added.
“They felt they would have collided with that object had they not taken evasive maneuvers. They put their aircraft into a quick dive and went underneath the object,” he said.
Two flight attendants were injured as a result of the maneuver before the plane landed at the airport. They were taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries, Cicero said. No passengers were injured.
Cicero said the pilots initially thought the object looked like a balloon, but after debriefing, they believe it could have been a drone.
There were 54 passengers on-board at the time of the incident, Porter said.
“It’s very concerning” Rowntree said. “Anything that puts an aircraft at risk in flight is of concern to the TSB and Transport Canada. We don’t need aircraft colliding with an object out over the middle of a lake or anywhere for that matter in flight.
“It’s very concerning which is why we’re taking it seriously and trying to determine what exactly happened in this case and what they might have seen.”
Rowntree said that while investigators will review the flight data recorder, cockpit recorder and radar data, the plane was not equipped with any visual recording devices that might help.
“There are no cameras so unfortunately unlike a car where you’ve got dashcams or people mount GoPros up front., we don’t have anything like that up front.”
He said the investigation is still in its early stages.