An incident at Comox Valley Airport on Wednesday, Aug. 9, involving a WestJet plane and a military aircraft, is under investigation.
“It was a minor incident with a WestJet plane and one of the planes from 19 Wing,” said Comox Valley Airport marketing manager Erin Neely.
A WestJet statement confirmed the incident, involving Westjet flight 345 (Boeing 737-700) travelling from Comox to Edmonton. The WestJet aircraft made contact with a parked CC-130H Hercules while taxiing out for departure.
“All the guests and the crew were safely off-loaded and they were bused (back to the terminal),” said Neely. “There were no injuries to report and currently (2:30 p.m. Aug. 9) the passengers are in the terminal making arrangements to reschedule to get to their destinations.”
Andre Gagne was a passenger on the WestJet flight and posted some photos to Twitter, along with the comment: “Crazy huh! Happy we all got off safely as this could have been much worse. At least we can be one of the rare few who can say we’ve survived a plane crash!”
Crazy huh! Happy we all got off safely as this could have been much worse. At least we can be one of the rare few who can say we’ve survived a plane crash! pic.twitter.com/3XRNl43Dtv— Andre Gagne (@EarthToAndre) August 9, 2023
When contacted by the Record, Gagne said he didn’t even notice the collision at first.
“I had my headphones on, listening to a podcast when it happened,” he said. “I was actually sitting in the window seat pretty much right where it happened, and I guess there was a jostling of the aircraft… and I heard people shouting and looking out the windows on my side of the plane. So I looked out the window and thought ‘Is that a piece of the wing on the runway? That can’t be.’ But sure enough, a tip of the wing had been torn off and was sitting there on the runway.”
Gagne said the passengers waited on the tarmac for approximately 45 minutes before being shuttled back to the terminal.
He was on his way back to Ottawa after a two-week holiday in the Comox Valley. His original itinerary had him flying Comox-Edmonton-Calgary-Ottawa, arriving home at around midnight. He said he was impressed with Westjet’s response.
“The one thing I will credit WestJet on is by the time we got off the plane and into the airport again, they had already sent a string of emails to people, explaining things. In my instance, I now leave Comox to Calgary at 8 p.m. and they are setting me up at a hotel in Calgary overnight, then I will catch a morning flight to Ottawa. They also gave us some food vouchers for the little restaurant in the Comox airport, which, poor them… they suddenly had 70 passengers with food vouchers, and only so many ham sandwiches!”
Department of National Defence media relations spokesperson Andrew McKelvey said an investigation is underway.
“The RCAF is aware of the incident on the 19 Wing Comox ramp involving a civilian aircraft coming into contact with a CC-130H Hercules,” said the DND statement. “At this time, emergency response is on scene and actions are ongoing.
“There was nobody on board the RCAF aircraft at the time, and there are no reported injuries among DND or CAF personnel. The incident is being investigated by WestJet and RCAF authorities and will also involve the Transportation Safety Board. The extent of the damage to the Hercules is not yet known. The RCAF is working to minimize the impact on fixed-wing SAR within Search and Rescue Region Victoria. Rotary wing SAR coverage remains unaffected. As the matter is being investigated by multiple flight safety agencies, it would be inappropriate to comment on the nature and extent of the damage or speculate on the cause.”