Air Canada Pilot Diverts Flight To Save Dog

An Air Canada pilot made the not-so-unusual choice to divert the flight, but for a very unusual reason — the dog in the cargo bay was in trouble. The scheduled flight from Tel Aviv to Toronto had a heating problem in the cargo bay just as the plane was about to head out over the Atlantic. If the hold only had luggage the flight would have just continued on, but one of the passengers heading to Toronto was a seven-year-old French Bulldog named Simba. The pilot made the wise choice to divert the flight and landed at Frankfurt, Germany instead.

German Kontorovich, Simba’s owner, was reunited with him at the airport in Frankfurt. The two were able to board another flight towards Toronto. The pilot choosing to divert the flight gave the other passengers a 75 minute delay and cost the airline an estimated $10,000 in fuel expenses, but Kontorovich was grateful beyond measure. He said that Simba was “like (his) child.” He also thanked the pilot for playing with his dog after the diversion and before he took off again.

Most people don’t think about heat on a plane as something that’s needed, but when a pilot is ferrying you 30,000 feet in the air, the temperature outside the flight is a decidedly chilly minus 40 to minus 60 Celsius, or minus 22 to minus 76 Fahrenheit. The temperature in the main cabin of the plane is kept steady by the pressurized cabin, but the cargo hold is not always kept that way.

Flight expert Phyl Durdy said the pilot’s choice to divert the flight was a wise one.

“The captain is responsible for all lives on board, whether it be human life or even canine life, animal life.”

He added that even if the cargo hold was insulated, the temperature inside would have quickly dropped below freezing and if the pilot had not diverted little Simba would have likely frozen to death before reaching Toronto.

This isn’t the first time this month an Air Canada flight has been diverted: last week an Air Canada flight from St. Johns to Halifax was diverted back to the airport by the pilot for an unspecified mechanical problem. The pilot successfully managed to land the plane and all 70 passengers disembarked safely.

If you’re worried about the safety of your own dog if you have to take them on a flight and can’t count on the pilot diverting the flight for them, a list of airlines that allow dogs in cabin on the flight is available here.

[Image via Wikipedia/Chachacha369]