Glitch blamed for Prime Minister's plane emergency : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Link Monday, December 6, 1999

Glitch blamed for PM's plane emergency

OTTAWA (CP) -- A glitch in an electronic fire-warning system, which falsely signalled an engine fire, forced Prime Minister Jean Chretien's plane into an emergency landing on the weekend.

Air Force Capt. Lynne Chaloux said Monday the warning system on the Challenger aircraft gave the pilots a false alarm as they were flying Chretien home to Ottawa from Quebec City on Saturday.

"It was some sort of short circuit," she said. "It indicated a fire in the engine when there really was not."

She said the pilots followed procedures.

"They took the steps required to deal with the emergency," she said. "They shouldn't be second-guessing these things."

The pilots shut down the left engine and declared an emergency. They made a safe landing at Ottawa, the nearest airport.

The prime minister was uninjured.

The Air Force operates four Challengers as VIP transports. Although the planes are flown by military pilots and belong to 412 Squadron, they are maintained by Transport Canada.

-- Homer Beanfang (, December 06, 1999


"short circuit" yeah right. This was Y2K, plain and simple.

-- (here@we.go), December 06, 1999.

I have been a professional pilot for the last seventeen years. Navy fighter pilot to major airline pilot. These things happen all the time and to contribute it to Y2K is wrong... I believe we will see significant disruptions from Y2K but let's not go completely paranoid. Mechanical, electrical, and electronic failures are part of life.

-- jim airplane (, December 06, 1999.

The most common cause of "false fire warnings" on aircraft are internal shorts in the "fire detection loops." There is a fine strand of wire in the loop which can be broken or shorted. A break in the wire will cause the loop to fail to test properly, giving a failure indication in the cockpit. A short will cause a fire detection indication in the cockpit. There is also a potential for wiring faults and connector faults and sometimes the fire detection unit or control head will fail.

This is not to say that at some point a more advanced integrated system might not develop a problem arising from computer chips or programming, but the majority of systems flying today are based upon the above described system.

-- snooze button (, December 06, 1999.

OH NO!! I JUST HAD A GLITCH ! IT MUST BE Y2K !! Well really,when I just tried to submit an answer to this thread,it took me 3 tries as my screen went white. Anyway, what I was gonna say is Thanks for the post Homer (as always) and thanks also to Jim & SnoozeButton for the "other" rational explanations. We got enough real Y2K stuff to digest!

on de rock

-- Walter (on de, December 06, 1999.

Can't you boys tell when somebody's jerkin' yer chain?

-- zzzzzzzzz (z@z.z), December 06, 1999.

-- f (a@g.l), December 07, 1999.

Good thing it probably wasn't y2k-induced - else, planes ".... would have been forced down out of the sky."

Rather embarressing, I'm glad the pilots handled it well - and I hope this gives a quick lesson in humility to the PM.....a quick, locally significant reminder that technology "doesn't care" what people want - it will (alarms, computers, programs, satellites, or databases) ignore wishes and fail anyway.

And there wasn't a d**m thing he could do about it - except land and walk away.

In this case, only delaying a trip. In a few weeks - perhaps affecting many millions of other systems.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, December 07, 1999.

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