- Air Canada Flight 43 was forced to turn back to Delhi after cockpit sensors gave inaccurate warning to pull up.
- Pilots followed safety protocols and returned to Delhi, avoiding a dangerous maneuver had they received the warning at a lower altitude.
- Multiple recent incidents involving Air Canada, including diversions and a flight tainted with vomit, have drawn attention to the carrier’s health and safety protocols.
On August 27th, an Air Canada Boeing 777 was forced to turn around and return back to Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi after cockpit sensors instructed the pilots to pull up to avoid a terrain encounter. However, the aircraft was cruising at nearly 30,000 feet, clearly indicating an inaccuracy by the flight’s instruments.
Photo: Elena Berd/Shutterstock
Ultimately, there were no fatalities, and a major incident did not occur as the aircraft returned to Delhi very quickly. However, had the pilots received a similar warning at a lower altitude, they may have performed a dangerous maneuver if they followed the system’s instructions.
The incident itself
The aircraft in question for this flight was a Boeing 777-200, completing Air Canada flight 43, the return leg of a flight from Delhi to Toronto-Pearson International Airport (YYZ). The nightly overnight flight, under normal circumstances, takes off at 22:30 from DEL and is scheduled to arrive in Toronto the following morning at 5:40 with a total flight time of nearly 14 and a half hours.
However, on the night of August 27th, Flight 43 did not follow its normal itinerary. After a brief delay on the ground, the Air Canada Boeing 777-200 took off from DEL with 316 passengers onboard at 22:54 Indian Standard Time. By 23:17, the aircraft had achieved its cruising altitude of 30,000 feet and was making its way into Pakistani airspace.
However, upon reaching a position approximately 430 nautical miles northwest of Delhi, the pilots received a “terrain, pull up!” warning from cockpit instruments, despite being nearly 30,000 feet above the Pakistani city of Peshawar. By the time the pilots received this warning, the time was 23:36, a full 37 minutes after the aircraft had taken off.
In response to the warning, the pilots went through all applicable safety protocols and ensured that no critical flight technology had been damaged by whatever was causing the terrain sensor to malfunction. Ultimately, the crew was unable to reach a consensus that the flight should not continue to Toronto and elected to return to Delhi. By 00:07, the pilots had turned the aircraft around and had been cleared to return to Delhi for an emergency landing. For the return journey, the crew climbed to an altitude of 31,000 feet.
Photo: Air Canada
The aircraft landed safely in Delhi at 02:22, roughly 150 minutes after taking off bound for Toronto. Upon arrival, emergency service teams greeted the airliner and made a preliminary inspection of the jet before taxiing across the apron.
Multiple Air Canada incidents
In the past few weeks, multiple different Air Canada incidents have made the headlines. Last week, the carrier apologized to passengers after two women were escorted off a flight that was reportedly tainted with vomit. Furthermore, the carrier has seen a variety of aircraft diversions over the past few weeks, including a notable diversion by a 767 cargo jet landing at London Heathrow due to multiple aircraft system failures.