American Airlines Flight AA263 declared a medical emergency in flight from Dallas to Beijing, and diverted to Edmonton as a result. But now due to issues with plane flaps, the flight has diverted to Calgary for a longer runway and has dumped fuel along the way to lighten the plane before its landing. It was a tense flight, but thanks to a calm pilot, crew, and flight control, the plane landed safely. Read on for play-by-play chronological details of what happened during the flight.
The flight originally declared a medical emergency and diverted from its Beijing destination to Edmonton due to issues that a passenger was having. More details about the medical emergency are not known at this time, but some reports indicated the issue was cardiac arrest.
But shortly after, the flight then declared mechanical issues involving the flaps upon approach and canceled the Edmonton approach. On radio with flight control, they requested emergency crews as a precaution and began running checklists on the problem, reported Tom Podolec, a senior journalist for CTV News and an aviation photographer.
The flight began dumping fuel to help with the landing, to reduce the landing weight as they prepared for an emergency landing in YEG.
The flight then changed its destination and diverted to Calgary for a longer runway and stopped dumping fuel. (It has since resumed dumping fuel again before its new landing.) The original diversion to Edmonton was due to a medical emergency. Calgary is a better choice for an emergency landing due to having a significantly longer runway. Calgary has a 14,000-foot runway while Edmonton has a nearly 11,000-foot runway, reported Podolec. Flights from YEG to Calgary typically take about an hour.
Flight AA263 is a Boeing 787-8 twin jet Dreamliner, according to FlightAware.
Dave Sutherland in Alberta was able to get a photo of the flight as it aborted its approach:
This is the latest photo of the flight’s path, as of 6:10 p.m. Eastern:
The latest update is that the flight is still on the way to Calgary after reporting possible flaps/slats failure, which were reported after the cardiac medical emergency that created the original need to divert the flight.
Emergency units have been dispatched to Calgary just in case they are needed. Here is another photo of the flight’s recent path, from FlightRadar24:
American Airlines confirmed with CTV News that the flight was detoured because of both a medical emergency and then later due to a mechanical issue. Because it had enough fuel for a trip to China, they needed to reduce the landing weight of the plane before the emergency landing.
The plane is now on approach to Calgary.
The plane has finished its approach and landed. And it appears the plane made a safe landing and is now being inspected.
Viewers who were following the flight were concerned when Flight Radar seemed to show the plane in the woods, but this was inaccurate. The plane landed safely.
Kudos to the pilot, crew, and flight control for assisting in a safe landing during what was a very tense flight.
Here is a photo of the plane safely at its destination, as shown on Flight Radar:
The more than 200 passengers on the plane, their family and friends, and all the people who followed the plane on social media are thankful to everyone who helped the plane land safely.