Air Canada Operates An 8 Hour Flight To Nowhere After Acceleration Issue

Passengers on their way home for the holidays found themselves flying nowhere after eight hours in the air with Air Canada, thanks to a malfunctioning engine. Pilots reportedly lost acceleration control of the Boeing 787-9s engine and had to return to Toronto to fix the issue.

The Air Canada Boeing 787-9 and the engine that caused all the fuss. Photo: Air Canada

What are the details?

It seems that the silly season makes Air Canada the ‘silly’ airline, after yet another flight that flies all day to nowhere (check out our previous story of an Air Canada flight that flew 36 hours to nowhere).

According to The Aviation Herald, an Air Canada flight AC-31 heading from Toronto to Beijing was flying north over the Arctic Ocean when the left-hand engine showed a fault. The flight was approximately four hours into its journey.

Air canada
The route of the flight (solid green) and the projected flight plan (dashed line). Photo: Flight Aware

Unlike the most common scenario in which the engine shuts down, this time the engine just started to go faster and faster, without command from the cockpit or the autopilot.

To compensate between the two engines (with one powering much faster), the pilots reduced the overall thrust on the other engine by 1.5 inches on the lever.

After speaking to their command and maintenance over their communication network, the crew decided to return to Toronto.

The aircraft declared PAN PAN, which is the next step down from a MAYDAY call. The difference between the two is that passengers and crew are not in any imminent danger, but the aircraft does need to urgently return back to an airport.

The Boeing 787-9 (registration C-FRSE) then landed safely after about four hours after making the call to return. According to the source, the problem ended up being the throttle quadrant module. The module was replaced on the aircraft and it is now back in service.

Simple Flying reached out to the airline for comment before publishing this story, but have not heard back.

What is it like to fly onboard the Air Canada 787-9?

Air Canada configures its Boeing 787-9 aircraft with 298 seats onboard.

There are 30 business class, lie-flat seats in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone configuration. They have 80 inches of pitch in lie-flat mode but are rather narrow at 21 inches wide.

Air Canada Operates An 8 Hour Flight To Nowhere After Acceleration Issue
Air Canada’s reverse herringbone on the 787-9 is a comfortable arrangement. Photo: Air Canada

This is followed by a premium economy section with 38 inches of legroom in a 2-3-2 configuration. This is average for the class but the reclining seats give a bit more room for passengers.

Lastly, the remaining 247 seats are economy in a 3-3-3 configuration with a brutal 30 inches of legroom per seat. This is usually tiny and disappointing that the carrier would fly such a narrow (17 inches) and tiny seat for over eight hours. We feel for those passengers that had no other choice than this for the holiday season.

Merry Christmas!

What do you think of this news? Let us know in the comments.