An Air Canada passenger plane landed so significantly short of the runway in Halifax that it hit a power line and knocked out power at the airport, the lead investigator says. The Airbus 320 landed 1,100 feet short of the runway during an early Sunday morning snowstorm. It crashed into a bank of antennas and sheared off its main landing gear, nose cone, and an engine before skidding on its belly. Twenty-five people were taken to the hospital and all but one have been released. Mike Cunningham, regional manager for Canada's Transportation Safety Board, says investigators are still trying to determine why Flight AC624 from Toronto landed prematurely.
The airport terminal building went black as the plane hit a power line several hundred feet outside the airport. "That's pretty unique," Cunningham says. The power outage meant an emergency response center had to be moved to a nearby hotel. Cunningham says he's sure the power outage was a contributing factor in the delayed response in retrieving the 133 passengers and five crew members. Passengers complained they were left standing on the tarmac for up to 50 minutes as they were lashed by wind-whipped snow before buses arrived. "We can do better than that," an airport spokesman says. "The question is, how do we move 138 people safely off a runway in a snowstorm at quarter to one on a Sunday morning?" (Read more Air Canada stories.)