The diversion of Porter Airlines’ Montreal Flight 405 to Pearson on January 3, makes the fourth such incident in a week, five if you include a passenger.
The previous Sunday saw three Porter diversions.
A flight bound for Washington D.C. ended up in Williamsport, Pennsyvania. There was too much smoke in the cockpit.
Hours later, Flight PD 539 bound from Billy Bishop Toronto Centre Airport (BBTCA) for Sudbury took a little diversion to Pearson when smoke got in passengers’ eyes.
Porter changed the game plan for the third diversion and the hat trick. This time the flight, PD 630, was en route to BBTCA from Thunder Bay. This time Porter blamed ‘an indication received in the cockpit’ for the diversion to Pearson, again.
The really strange thing about all these diversions is why were they diversions. If the planes were having trouble, why didn’t they just return to their base at BBTCA or in the case of the Thunder Bay flight, why didn’t it just land at its destination at BBTCA? Is there something inherently wrong with the airport that it can’t handle emergencies?
Under the current Transport Canada’s Safety Management System (SMS), airlines are responsible for monitoring their own safety. The federal Transportation Safety Board is monitoring Porter’s investigation of the incidents but the TSB regional manager says that the TSB hasn’t decided if the organization will do its own investigation.
Perhaps the TSB could use the time they won’t spend on the Porter incidents to find out why Porter’s distressed aircraft don’t return to their base. On another note, the TSB is better known for investigations after an accident has occurred.
In a diversion of a different sort, Porter bumped a 16-year-old cancer patient and her father flying from Thunder Bay to Toronto for the girl’s treatment appointment. According to the father, Porter bumped the pair because they paid the lowest fare. It seems that the plane was filled with higher-paying passengers who, according to the father, weren’t asked if they would volunteer to give up their seats.
Business as Usual
There is no truth to the rumour that Porter is contemplating changing their marketing hook from Flying refined to Flying diverted nor will their advertising feature such promises as ‘We’ll get you there one way or another’.