Yesterday, a cargo-configured Boeing 767 operated by Mexican carrier MasAir Cargo diverted after an engine fire indication. It had just departed from Los Angeles, California. The incident took it to Ontario, which sounds like an incredibly long-winded diversion to a central-Canadian province. However, the Ontario in question was, in fact, the city in San Bernadino County, California, just to the east of the ‘City of Angels.’ But how exactly did the incident pan out?
Delayed departure with dangerous goods
Yesterday morning, a MasAir Cargo Boeing 767 operating flight M76852 landed in Los Angeles from Mexico City one minute early at 08:07 local time. It was then scheduled to return to its origin with a fresh shipment of freight at 09:30, as flight M76853. Among its cargo were dangerous goods such as dry ice and batteries.
However, data from AirNav RadarBox shows that it did not leave LAX until 10:46, over 75 minutes late. The aircraft departed from runway 25R and was initially cleared to climb to an altitude of 12,000 feet. However, As it happened, the delay would prove to be the least of its problems.
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Engine fire indication
According to The Aviation Herald, the aircraft had only reached 10,000 feet before its two-person crew elected to stop the climb. At this stage, they declared an emergency and announced their intentions to return to LAX. Specifically, they appeared to be dealing with an engine failure, due to an engine fire indication for the right-hand powerplant.
Having circled for a while to work through the necessary checklists, the crew advised that the fire indicator had since gone out. Nonetheless, they elected to follow through with the diversion, although adverse weather in the Los Angeles area saw them change their destination to nearby Ontario International (ONT).
This airport is often used as an alternate landing location for LAX-bound long-haul aircraft due to its long runways and proximity to Los Angeles. Flight M76853 eventually touched down on runway 26L at Ontario at 12:05 local time. It had spent 69 minutes in the air since departing LAX.
The aircraft involved
Boeing 767-338(ER)(BDSF) that had to divert following yesterday’s engine fire indication bore the registration N363CM. According to Planespotters.net, this aircraft is over 30 years old. Australian flag carrier Qantas initially took delivery of it in July 1990. It bore the registration VH-OGF, and the name City of Lismore.
After 21 years of passenger-carrying service, the airline withdrew the aircraft in 2011. After this, it underwent a cargo conversion. The conversion took place while the aircraft was under the ownership of lessors Cargo Aircraft Management (CAM).
Having completed this process (as well as re-registering the aircraft as N363CM) in August 2012, the aircraft spent eight years with US cargo airline ABX Air. It returned to CAM in February 2020, with MasAir Cargo commencing its lease of the aircraft five months later. Following yesterday’s diversion, it is yet to return to service.
What do you make of this incident? Have you ever experienced a diversion like this? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.