Mr. S.C. shared this story, and there's more questions here than answers, and I can't help but talk about it because of its possible relationship to the still unresolved issue of missing Malaysia Air flight 370. We'll get back to that high octane speculation in a moment. For now, here's the story:
Lisa Johnson, who wrote the story for the CBC, indicates that there are more questions here than answers, and Canadian and British authorities don't seem to be in any hurry to answer them, nor even to provide a plausible "cover story."
You'll note first of all that the enormous aircraft was flying from San Francisco to London, when it was then said to have been initially diverted to Calgary, which repportedly can handle the big Airbus aircraft, but wait, no, instead of diverting for the much closer Calgary, the aircraft flew on to Vancouver. So one question is:
4. Why didn't the plane land in Calgary?
And the provided answer is:
The passengers were initially told they'd land in Calgary, but actually touched down over the Rockies in Vancouver.
Some speculated that the size of the A380 — the largest commercial passenger jet in the world — meant it couldn't land at Calgary International, but the airport said it is "designed for and capable of accommodating A380 aircraft."
It's possible, said Williams, that burning more fuel en route to Vancouver made the landing easier.
OK, more fuel needed to be burned off. But as I recall, aircraft like the A380 are fitted with "dump" valves to jettison fuel for precisely such situations. Now, I'm certainly not an aircraft expert by any means, so someone out there might be able to provide more accurate information, but to the best of my knowledge, fuel dumps can be made for these types of situations. If... if... that is the case, then the "explanation" being offered here is no explanation at all: why, if there was an emergency, did the aircraft lumber on from Calgary to Vancouver, thus seemingly putting passengers and crew in more danger?
So what was such an emergency that the aircraft had to be diverted first to Calgary and thence to Vancouver? We're not told. All we're told is that the passengers as as mystified as we are. Those on the upper deck thought the problem was on the lower deck, and vice versa, those on the lower deck thought the problem was on the upper deck.
Then it gets more mystifying. At first the passengers are informed of a "technical difficulty":
Then, as dinner was being served, an announcement came from the captain.
"The captain came on and said there was some minor technical difficulties and we were diverting to Calgary instead of London," recalls passenger Jaakko Virtanan.
"I didn't smell any smoke.… I just smelled the roast beef or whatever that I didn't get, because they stopped serving dinner at that point."
Ok, so there were technical difficulties. But if there were technical difficulties, again, why not land at Calgary? Why seemingly compound the risk by flying on to Vancouver? Oh but wait, there weren't technical difficulties at all. Rather, someone (again unspecified), was ill:
Then, another announcement: someone was sick, and they'd land in Vancouver.
Who was sick? A passenger? A crew member? A member of the flight crew? Again, if someone was sick, and this is the reason the flight made an emergency landing, then why not Calgary? After all, they have electricity and indoor plumbing and hospitals and doctors in Calgary now, so why fly on to Vancouver? And what was the nature of this "sickness"? Was it physical? Psychological?
The article suggests it was a crew member, or possibly, several:
2. How many people got sick?
The airline has said 25 crew members went to hospital — as a precaution — but it's not clear how many were actually ill.
An initial statement said "a crew member required medical attention," but by Tuesday afternoon the company said "several crew members reported feeling unwell."
"When we landed, the crew came and got their luggage and left immediately, and we're all sitting there looking around," said passenger Don Blaser, irritated that customers were left on the plane.
Video from the airport shows an ambulance leaving the scene, accompanied by a city bus filled with a number of crew members and paramedics.
At Vancouver General Hospital, flight crew could be seen walking through the emergency room doors with their carry-on bags, escorted by paramedics. All were discharged.
OK, so several crew members were sick, and went to the hospital in Vancouver, where "all were discharged." Strange, especially since one passenger stated that gas masks were seen, and others reported crew members asking them if they felt anything in their eyes:
One passenger told CBC News that rescue personnel came on the plane wearing "gas masks" or some kind of respirator, but that he didn't smell smoke.
Another passenger, Stefan Orberg, wondered if there was something in the air.
"The [flight] attendants asked me, did you feel anything in your eyes? I thought, well, maybe I had."
A number of technical problems can lead to smoke or air problems on the plane, said Williams, but the air conditioning system would be shared by the whole plane — not just a few crew members.
Alternatively, a malfunction in the cockpit could affect just the cockpit crew, said Williams.
The story ends by even suggesting some form of "mass hysteria."
So why bring this up in connection with the mysterious disappearance of MH 370? Well, for the simple reason that to this day no one seems to know exactly what happened to that flight, nor where it went down (nor even, really, if it went down, since most of the alleged wreckage from the craft that has been claimed to be found, according to some pilots, has not been conclusively shown to be from that flight. In some cases,the pictures of the actual alleged parts of the aircraft appear to be different than those of a Boeing 777, at least, to my highly untrained eye). In the case of this British airways flight, we're confronted by an equally mysterious event, and all public explanations are either just plain silly, or raise as many questions as they purport to answer.
Which brings me to an extraordinarily silly high octane speculation of my own, one which, I hasten to point out, has absolutely no evidence in its favor, other than a simple "gut intuition". And that intuition is perhaps, just perhaps, British Airways Flight 286 began to experience something very similar to MH 370, and the crew took action to avoid a similar fate. If that ridiculous idea did indeed happen, then it bears with it a hidden implication, namely, that there is a quiet and hidden protocol in place, based on whatever hidden conclusions might have been derived about the mysterious disappearance of MH flight 370. We'll call this the "MH370 emergency protocol" for what airliners are to do when confronted by highly abnormal circumstances. Part of that protocol might include cover stories about sick passengers, or crew, technical difficulties, and strange emergency landings.
See you on the flip side...