GOOSE BAY, N.L. — Air France says a passenger flight en route to California was forced to land in Labrador following “serious damage” to one of the plane’s four engines.
The airline said the plane landed safely Saturday afternoon after being diverted to Goose Bay airport as a precaution in response to a technical issue.
“The regularly trained pilots and cabin crew handled this serious incident perfectly,” the airline said in a statement. “The passengers are currently being assisted by teams dispatched to the location.”
Passengers on board the aircraft, which departed from Paris for Los Angeles Saturday morning, tweeted photos and video of the plane flying through the clouds with a damaged engine, which appears to have lost its cowling.
Pamela Adams, a travel writer and family therapist from southern California, said she and her husband were on their way home from a trip in France, when six hours into the flight, they got up in the aisle to stretch their limbs.
“We heard this tremendous bang. It was like the plane hit a Jeep at 35,000 feet,” Adams said in a phone interview. “It was a whiplash moment. We grabbed onto something and then we sat down, and the plane righted itself fairly soon.”
Passengers nervously joked to one another as they tried to make sense of the commotion, Adams said. She figured the plane had struck a bird, but then, it became clear that the situation was more “dramatic.”
The pilot came on over the loudspeaker and said the plane had “lost” one of its engines and would be attempting to land in Canada, said Adams.
Rather than worry, Adams said she tried to provide emotional support and bond with other passengers.
About 90 minutes after the initial impact, the plane landed smoothly in Goose Bay, she said.
Adams said passengers were stuck inside the aircraft as emergency vehicles pulled up to the scene.
The crew handed out meals as they waited on the runway for hours, but even with full bellies, she said some passengers were growing restless.
“We’re still sitting in the middle of the tarmac, and they have not announced what’s going to happen next,” said Adams in an interview Saturday afternoon. “It’s increasing people’s anxiety.”
Three hours after landing, Adams tweeted that the experience may provide inspiration for her next book: “Still Stuck on a Plane in Canada.”
Air France said it was working on rerouting passengers.