El Al flight 1008 has just departed from Goose Bay and is taking the passengers of yesterday’s flight 8 from Goose Bay to Tel Aviv as El Al flight 1008. Those passengers have been in Goose Bay since 3:53am EST/4:53am AST this morning. They will arrive into Tel Aviv at 2:45am EST/9:45am IST, or 27 hours after their flight’s original departure time.
Mechanics were brought together with the replacement plane and will work on repairing the original plane. When it’s fixed it will return to JFK as El Al flight 1003. It will then operate as El Al flight 8 from JFK to Tel Aviv. That flight is currently delayed from 11:50pm to 1:30am.
El Al flight 1 from Tel Aviv to JFK, which was supposed to utilize last night’s diverted airplane, is canceled. El Al will operate special flight 1001 tomorrow from Tel Aviv to JFK at 7:25am on a 777 and El Al 7 tomorrow on a 747 at 12:10pm.
Below is the Air Traffic Control audio of the Mayday message sent from El Al Flight 8 to Gander Center Air Traffic Control, with a special thanks to LiveATC.net and ChaikelTravel for finding and splicing this together:
I’m no expert in this stuff, but here’s some of the background that I’ve been deciphering.
El Al flight 8, a 747 flying from JFK to Tel Aviv, was supposed to depart at 11:50pm, but was delayed until 12:41am.
British Airways flight 2272, a 777 flying from JFK to London Gatwick was supposed to depart at 10pm, but was delayed until 12:52am.
As a plane flies over Newfoundland, Canada, they request a route from Gander Center Air Traffic Control. Once a certain distance offshore, a flight is no longer under radar coverage. The flight follows a set “highway in the sky” on autopilot and Gander Center lets the plane know that radar services have ended.
It appears that El Al may have been out of range of Gander Center Air Traffic Control when the pilots noticed an indicator light that there was a fire in the wheel well:
British Airways flight 2272 should have left hours before El Al, but happened to have departed 11 minutes after the El Al flight. That was good news for El Al as the pilot of the BA flight was still within range of both the El Al plane and Gander Center.
The pilot of British Airways flight 2272 (ATC name Speedbird 10C as can be heard at 0:16 into the audio) was able to relay El Al’s Mayday call over to Gander Center ATC.
At 1 minute into the audio, Gander Center tells the BA pilot to tell El Al to advise how many souls are on board and how much fuel is remaining.
At 1:37 you can hear the El Al pilot declare Mayday. Gander Center then repeatedly tries to reach El Al until 2:20 when Mayday is declared again.
Gander Center instructs El Al to descend and gives instructions to land at Goose Bay Air Force Base.
At 4:15 El Al tells Gander Center that the temperate sensors in the wheel well appear normal, so they think that it’s just a faulty indicator light, but they prefer to play it safe and make sure.
At 7:10 Gander Center has a tough time making out the thick Israeli accent of the pilot and asks to repeat the request. El Al responds that they would like fire crew technicians to confirm that there is no fire on the plane, at which point the Mayday will be cancelled.
Thank G-d, the flight landed without incident. Passengers were stuck on a plane all day, but passed the time with prayer and songs. It is a good reminder though to always travel with some extra food and water.
A few months ago Air France flight 66 from Paris to Los Angeles was diverted to Goose Bay. They landed at 11:47am on Saturday and were stuck on the plane overnight until their replacement flight at 7am on Sunday. The replacement flight only took them to Atlanta, so they had to take yet another flight to get to Los Angeles. This despite the fact that Delta is an Air France Trans-Atlantic joint venture partner and should have been able to ferry passengers back in less time than that.
Compared to that, El Al appears to have done a very good job in getting passengers on their way after some 15.5 hours on the ground in Goose Bay.
On a related note of Canadian diversion airports, I recently read “The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland” I cried, I laughed, and I enjoyed the parts about the Lubavitcher shliach figuring out why he was stuck in Gander for Shabbos. It’s a great read, but luckily today’s passengers won’t be spending a week in Goose Bay!
Were you or your relative on the flight? Share your experience in the comments!
HT: Chaikel Travel