Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kitty chaos delays flight

A member of the ground crew looks up at the cockpit of Air Canada flight 603 as it backs up from it's gate en route to Toronto on Tuesday. The flight was delayed for 4 hours, after a cat got loose from it's owner and hid beneath the cockpit.

The Halifax Stanfield International Airport has weathered delays caused by storms and even handled hundreds of unexpected travellers after 9/11 grounded flights around the world.

But a cat on a plane?

"First I ever heard of this one," Peter Spurway, vice-president of the Halifax International Airport Authority, said.

A Wednesday morning flight to Toronto was delayed almost five hours after an unwelcome passenger snuck into the cockpit.

Air Canada flight 603 was expected to leave Halifax at 5:40 a.m., but a furry, four-legged passenger spoiled those plans.

"During boarding, a passenger that had a cat in a cage put the cage down to load baggage on the overhead bin and the cage door inadvertently opened," Isabelle Arthur, spokeswoman for Air Canada, said.

"The cat went into the flight deck, where it hid."

And the little kitty, reportedly named Ripples, had quite an effect.

The crew tried to coax the cat out, but this fickle feline refused to budge.

Instead, the airline's maintenance crew was called in "to disassemble parts of the flight deck to reach the cat."

The cat was stuck in the avionics systems. The workers carefully took it apart to return the kitty safely to its owner.

"It was very important that everything be done safely for the cat and we did rescue the cat," Arthur said.

"It was put back in the cage and the flight departed, delayed by several hours."

The maintenance crew reassembled the parts and checked the system, allowing the flight to take off at about 10 a.m.

During the lengthy wait, passengers were allowed to disembark to rest in the lounge area and about half were placed on other flights, Arthur said.

Other than tying up the use of a single gate, the delay didn’t have much effect on operations at the airport, Spurway said.

“Going west, it will have implications because that airplane and the crew, they all work on time, so they’ve been now four hours and 20 minutes going nowhere,” he said.

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