Earlier this week an Air Canada flight traveling Vancouver to Sydney received a call for help from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority after an Australian sail boat suffered damage and was drifting away from Austrailia in a remote location in the Pacific Ocean. The airliner notified passengers of the situation and staff barrowed binoculars from passengers on the flight to aid them in their search. The pilot, after deciding they had enough fuel, diverted from their course and detoured to the area the yacht was believed to be afloat in. The plane descending from 30K+ feet to just 4k feet above the sea and they cruised overhead looking for the boat and sailor. Sure enough, the crew and a number of passengers on the right side of the aircraft spotting the yacht with a broken mast and the crew reported the location of the boat to the Australian authorities! The aircraft then cruised its way back towards Sydney and landed safely.
An Air Canada Boeing 777 flying from Vancouver, B.C., diverted from its course to check on the distressed yacht. Air Canada said its plane swooped down at about 4,000 feet while the crew peered out using binoculars borrowed from passengers.
Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said the crew and a number of passengers aboard flight AC033 spotted the boat and advised authorities of its location. He said the yachtsman was subsequently rescued. He said the airline commends the crew and passengers.
“The pilots immediately determined they had sufficient fuel to undertake this, and headed out to the remote area which was over fairly rough seas. After apprising the customers onboard that we would assist as we were the only aircraft in the immediate vicinity, all onboard became involved in the search efforts,” Fitzpatrick said.
“The crew borrowed binoculars from customers and also engaged those sitting on the right hand side of the aircraft to help look. As our aircraft flew over the area at 4,000 feet, a reflection from a mirror shining upwards was spotted and the crew saw the yacht in question, de-masted with a person standing — which was confirmed by a number of passengers.”
The entire article can be read here, but I think this is an awesome example of a commercial airline going above and beyond and coming to the rescue to help out those in need. This is not something we hear of very often and the crew of the Air Canada flight should be commended for their work. It would have been very easy for them to say they didn’t have enough fuel, or descending to 4000 feet over the open ocean would not be safe, but instead they offered their help, and very easily saved the sailor’s life. Way to go Air Canada!