By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
A flight from Toronto bound for Kingston was forced to turn around after a piece of the craft fell off in the skies of Oshawa.
According to the Transportation Safety Board (TSB), a Beech 1900 aircraft lost part of its engine cowling – part of the cover for the engine – on a nighttime flight on March 19.
Air Georgian, a Toronto-based private airline that offers express flights in conjunction with Air Canada, operated the flight.
Peter Rowntree, a senior air investigator for the TSB, tells The Oshawa Express that the part of the cowling was about two feet by three feet, and broke off while the plane was over Lake Ontario near Oshawa.
Rowntree says these sorts of incidents can sometimes be attributed to errors on the ground.
“In the past, you could look at for instance that it just wasn’t properly closed or the latches weren’t done up. We have had incidents in the past like that,” he says.
“With this one, we’re not sure what the problem was. The company is still looking at that internally.”
Jennifer Salo, a spokesperson for Air Georgian, says the flight had 19 people on board with crew on the plane.
“The cowling fell off and embedded itself into the tail of the aircraft,” Salo writes in an emailed statement to The Oshawa Express.
“Safety first, the pilots flew back to Toronto. Once the aircraft landed, they noticed the cover was embedded in the tail. Everybody is safe and they did not declare it an emergency.”
Rowntree says that with incidents like these, the pilot will turn the plane around because while losing the engine cowling itself might not be a problem, what it hits when it falls off might.
“For something like this, it’s more of a precaution. We know they weren’t having any flight control difficulties with the aircraft, and they returned as a precaution to the Toronto airport to get the aircraft looked at to see if there had been any damage to the aircraft as a result of the cowling coming off,” he says.
“You don’t know (what might happen). Anything like that could hit something on its way back and damage other flight controls or other parts of the aircraft. So it’s better to err on the side of caution and turn around and land as soon as possible.”