Incredibly Smelly Fruit Leads To Air Canada Rouge Flight Diversion

An Air Canada Rouge flight made an emergency landing on September 17 after a pungent smell forced its way through the cabin. The odor was so strong that crew members had to wear oxygen masks.

Air Canada Rouge Boeing 767-33A(ER)
The crew of the Air Canada Rouge Boeing 767-300ER ordered an emergency landing due to an overpowering smell. Photo: Tomás Del Coro via Flickr

Fruitful operation

Flight Global reports that flight 1566 was diverted during its journey to Montreal from Vancouver. After returning to Montreal Airport, the stench was discovered to be caused by durian fruit. A shipment of the exotic fruit was found in the forward cargo compartment. The potent nature of the fruit caused its scent to make its way to the main cabin.

As the odor of durian is unfamiliar to many people, the crew made a PAN-PAN call after ascending to 25,000ft. Native to Southeast Asia, the fruit is often talked about for its overpowering fragrance. The smell is often described to resemble rotten onions and raw sewage.

Often hailed as ‘King of the Fruits’, Durian is becoming increasingly popular for its alleged health benefits. Photo: Douglas LeMoine via Flickr

Safety first

Unusual smells inside an aircraft can often indicate potentially dangerous operational faults. Earlier this summer, a Virgin Australia flight to Hong Kong made an emergency landing in Melbourne shortly after departing. This was due to a suspected fuel leak in the right engine.

This was followed by a diverted Air China flight between Washington Dulles and Beijing last month. The airliner was forced to make an emergency landing after a fire was spotted in the number one engine.

Fortunately, there was no leak or any other critical emergency for the Air Canada crew to worry about. Subsequently, all 245 passengers and eight crew members on the Boeing 767-300ER continued with no injuries.

This isn’t the first time that durian has caused an airliner to emergency land. In November 2018, CNN reported that a shipment of durian caused a Sriwijaya Air flight to be temporarily grounded after passengers complained about an overwhelming smell. The aircraft diverted while on its way to Jakarta from Bengkulu in Indonesia. It was carrying two tons of the product.

B737-4Q8 Sriwijaya Air
Last year, a Sriwijaya Air flight also had to make an unexpected landing due to durian. Photo: Steven Byles via Flickr

Isolated incident

Despite this event, Air Canada has seen considerable growth in the last few years and is continuing to expand. The Canadian flag carrier is set to launch a new route that will connect Airbus’ branches in Canada and France.

This service will launch in June 2020 and will help link the manufacturer’s Montreal and Toulouse hubs. Additionally, the airline announced that it will be launching a service directly to Bogota from Montreal. This route will also be in effect from June next year.

Simple Flying reached out to Air Canada for comment on the diversion but had not heard back prior to publication. We will update the article with any further information.

Have you had any experiences with diversions due to unusual incidents? Let us know your stories in the comment section.