On October 30th, an Air Canada Airbus A319 returned to Los Angeles shortly after it departed for Vancouver. However, what exactly were the reasons for and consequences of this diversion for the aircraft and its passengers?
According to The Aviation Herald, Air Canada flight 551 is a scheduled international service from Los Angeles (LAX), California to Vancouver (YVR), British Columbia. This is a busy corridor along North America’s west coast.
Vancouver represents the sixth most popular international destination from LAX. As well as the Canadian flag carrier, it is served by American Eagle, United, its regional partner United Express, and WestJet. The route is also popular among numerous cargo airlines.
According to FlightRadar24.com, AC551 is an early-morning departure, leaving Los Angeles at 6:50 AM and arriving in Vancouver at 9:42 AM. On October 30th, it departed at 6:58 AM. However, The Aviation Herald reports that, following departure from runway 25R, AC551 only reached an altitude of 6,000 feet before its crew requested to return to LAX.
The issue that caused the diversion was a cargo door indication that needed examination on the ground. The flight returned to Los Angeles 19 minutes after its departure, landing safely on runway 25L. Following a period of around an hour on the ground, the same aircraft was then able to safely depart for Vancouver once again. FlightAware reports that this flight passed without incident that arrival on stand at YVR was just 68 minutes behind schedule.
Which aircraft was involved?
The aircraft operating flight AC551 on October 30th was an Airbus A319 that bears the registration C-GBIP. According to Planespotters.net, this particular aircraft is very special in being none other than the first A319 prototype. Furthermore, aviation blog It’s About Airplanes reports that, on August 25th, 1995, it made the first-ever A319 flight. The aircraft entered commercial service with Air Canada in April 1998, where it has remained ever since.
According to SeatGuru, Air Canada’s Airbus A319 aircraft are configured with a 14-seat 2-2 business class cabin. To the middle and rear of the aircraft, one can find 106 economy seats in the conventional 3-3 layout. Since the incident on October 30th, FlightRadar24.com indicates that C-GBIP has remained in full service without any further issues, making two return trips to Calgary, Alberta. Today, it will serve Phoenix, Arizona and Montréal, Québec.
The Airbus A319 in Air Canada’s fleet
According to Planespotters.net, Air Canada presently has 12 Airbus A319 aircraft in its fleet, with an average age of 23.4 years. Nine of these are in active service. The remaining three are grounded, presumably due to the downturn in passenger demand caused by the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Historically, the Canadian flag carrier has also operated a further 36 examples of the type.
The airline’s low-cost partner Air Canada Rouge also previously operated 22 Airbus A319 aircraft. However, these have all been placed into storage due to COVID-19. Business charter subsidiary Air Canada Jetz also owns three specially-configured all-business A319s, of which two are in active service.
Have you ever been onboard an aircraft that has diverted/returned to its departure airport? Let us know your experiences in the comments.