Update LX40: malfunction message led to automatic shut down of left engine - as it is programmed to. Safe landing in IqluitAirport— Swiss Intl Air Lines (@FlySWISS) February 1, 2017
Engineers battle to fix Swiss plane stranded in icy northern Canada
Iqaluit airport. File photo: Northern Pix
8 February 2017
Imagine having to work in temperatures of -30C or colder to replace an entire jet engine in a Boeing 777.
That’s the situation faced by engineers in Iqaluit, a remote Inuit town in northern Canada, where a passenger plane belonging to Swiss International Airlines was forced to make an emergency landing last week.
The Boeing 777 was on its way from Zurich to Los Angeles last Wednesday when one of its engines malfunctioned and stopped working.
The pilot made an emergency landing at Iqaluit airport, where its 216 passengers and crew were forced to wait on board for 14 hours before a new Swiss aircraft arrived to take them on to New York, where they were transferred to another plane bound for Los Angeles.
But for engineers tasked with fixing the plane, the ordeal had only just started.
Since Iqaluit has no hangar, a heated tent was set up around the plane’s broken engine to spare workers from temperatures that according to one observer fell to -41C.
Canadian news reported the temperature in Iqaluit as between -30C and -25C over the past few days.
Pictures posted on Twitter by a local photographer showed the work in progress under the tent.
On Saturday a new engine was flown out from Zurich on a cargo plane, after engineers realized it would be impossible to fix the defective engine, reported RTS on Tuesday.
The new engine weighs 8.3 tons and costs 24 million francs, according to the broadcaster.
Added to that the cost of compensation to the 216 passengers and the use of the transporter plane and Swiss is looking at a hefty bill.
The airline would not confirm the cost to RTS, saying only that it was insured.
Iqaluit is the capital of – and only city in – the Canadian territory of Nunavut. It has a population of around 8,000 people, most of them Inuit.
Temperatures regularly dip to -50C with windchill.