Today is the 31st anniversary of the Gimli Glider. Air Canada flight 143, operated by four-month old Boeing 767-223 C-GUAN (SN 22520 / LN 47), was flying the second segment of a flight from Toronto to Ottawa to Edmonton on 23 July 1983. Due to multiple errors the fuel load was insufficient for the Ottawa to Edmonton flight and, while flying at FL410 (41,000 feet), the EICAS indicated low press in the left fuel pump. The captain immediately diverted to Winnipeg. The left engine soon flamed out, and while descending through 35,000 feet the right engine flamed out as well. It soon became clear that they would not be able to glide to Winnipeg.
Captain Robert Pearson happened to be an experienced glider pilot and was able to maximize the glide performance of an aircraft which was never designed to be a glider. (Commercial jetliners are designed for efficient cruise performance, which means they are better gliders than one might expect.) First Officer (FO) Maurice Quinatal had served in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and had trained at Gimli and thus was familiar with the airfield, and suggested a diversion to Gimli. With electrical power supplied only by the Ram Air Turbine (RAT) the flight crew had minimal instrumentation and no hydraulics. Late in their descent, they lowered the landing gear by gravity but found that the nose gear did not lock. Upon landing on runway 32L, the nose gear collapsed, resulting in a quicker deceleration which avoided a portion of the (closed) runway which was being used as for drag racing.
None of the 61 passengers or eight crew were injured during the landing, but the nose-gear collapse resulted in the rear evacuation slides being too steep which led to ten injuries. The aircraft was repaired and returned to service, serving until 2008 when it was ferried to Mojave, California for storage.
Today's Featured Map shows the shortest path for the Ottawa to Edmonton portion of AF 143's flight, plus Gimli Industrial Park Airport. Clicking on the map will take you to the map page, which includes (under More Information) the information that Gimli is 60 nm off the path.
Information on this site may not be accurate or current and is not valid for flight planning or navigation. No warranty of fitness for any purpose is made or implied. Flight planning and navigation should only be done using official charts.
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Karl L. Swartz.
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