(The Canadian Press)

Raccoon delays Air Canada flight by nearly 7 hours

Animal had gotten into the duct system on a plane that was set to leave Saskatoon and fly to Toronto

A raccoon that scurried into the duct system of an Air Canada jet that was set to leave for Toronto caused a seven-hour flight delay.

Ground crews in Saskatoon were connecting an air-conditioning unit to the plane Thursday night and apparently disturbed the furry bandit who had been inside the unit’s hose.

“Our crews worked with the animal control experts to extricate the animal which was unharmed,” Air Canada spokeswoman Angela Mah said Friday in an email. “This is the first time we’re aware of such an incident.”

READ MORE: Escaped dog shot at Canadian airport to avoid aircraft mishap

Damien Lee, one of 79 passengers, said the flight was due to leave Saskatoon at 2:50 p.m. He said that before passengers boarded, he could see a worker looking spooked as he was inspecting the jet. The worker talked to his colleagues and then started taking pictures under the plane.

Passengers initially thought it was funny.

“For the most part, it was novelty,” said Lee, an assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan, who was heading to Toronto to hunt for an apartment.

“People were guessing what it was at first. They were like, you know, holding mock bets, not really for real, but they were wondering and shouting out their ideas of what it could be.”

Pilots came down to assess the scene and, within an hour, animal control experts were brought in to try to catch the raccoon. Workers started taking panels off the plane with screwdrivers and hand drills, Lee said.

Handlers brought out instruments that looked like lassos to try to snag the animal, he said.

“It was a circus,” Lee said in a phone interview from Toronto where the flight finally landed at 3 a.m.

“What can you do? It’s not like somebody did this on purpose. This is an animal in there.”

Eventually, the raccoon dropped out and was escorted off the property unharmed, said Andrew Leeming, vice-president of operations at the airport. Leeming added that it was like herding cattle.

How the raccoon got into the unit’s hose is still a mystery.

“It might have been in the ground equipment,” Leeming said. ”It’s unlikely that it would have travelled from Toronto, but at the same time, we don’t see raccoons around the property, ever. That was kind of unusual.”

Air Canada said it carried out a full aircraft maintenance inspection before the flight finally took off at 10 p.m.

Even though this wasn’t Lee’s longest flight delay, he said it was definitely his weirdest airplane experience.

“It was like, ‘How the hell did that even get in there?’”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Vernon man seeks glory, beer, on frozen pond

Financial advisor Randy Wilson plays in one of world’s largest pond hockey tournaments

Vernon Mission bundles up for Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser

Coldest Night of the Year walk looks to give a unique perspective on sleeping rough

Regional district seeks $13 million to get rolling on Rail Trail

Federal grant would pay for a paved path from Sicamous to Armstrong

Vernon missionary helps feed Guatemalan children

Seeds to Harvest brings Gleaner’s food to those in need to relief efforts.

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

Thieves steal bottles, mattress from recycle depot

Chase RCMP still investigating theft of tires, generator from commercial garage

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Cold War Cabaret offers song, slam poetry and sock puppets

Devon More returns to Shuswap with Berlin Waltz, March 16

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

Most Read