‘Is that a piece of the wing?’ WestJet plane hits military aircraft in Comox airport crash

‘Is that a piece of the wing?’ WestJet plane hits military aircraft in Comox airport crash
The two planes involved in the crash are pictured. Aug. 9, 2023.

No injuries were reported after a WestJet passenger plane clipped the tail of a military plane on the grounds of the Comox Valley Airport (YQQ) on Wednesday.

WestJet says the plane hit the parked 19 Wing Comox aircraft while the plane was taxiing out for departure.

Photos show damage to the WestJet plane and the CC-130H Hercules on the tarmac of the airport, including a tail piece that was scraped off of the WestJet aircraft.

Passenger Andre Gagne says there was some “nervous laughter” when the collision occurred.

“Everyone was looking out the side of the aircraft that I was on and I looked out my window and thought, ‘Is that a piece of the wing on the runway?’” he said.

Gagne says the pilot spoke over the intercom shortly after saying that there was a mixup with air traffic control about if the runway was clear.

“I guess at the outset it was kind of nervous laughter,” he said. “There were no explosions or anything, but you are sitting in a vehicle where a portion of it had just fallen off.”

While the adults were mostly calm, Gagne says some children were shocked by the crash.

Passengers waited on the plane for about 45 minutes before they were picked up by a pair of buses, according to Gagne.

Andrew McKelvey, a spokesperson with National Defence, told CHEK News the extent of the damage to the Hercules is not yet clear.

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Gagne says WestJet reacted quickly to the incident, offering passengers flight changes, hotel accommodations and meal vouchers, “basically anything they could offer.”

Gagnes is from Ontario and was on Vancouver Island visiting friends. He was supposed to make it back to Ontario on Wednesday, but has been offered a hotel stay in Calgary until his new connecting flight departs on Thursday.

Despite the delay, Gagne is in good spirits about the crash.

“If you were to compare it to a car crash, it was like a fender bender, but for an airplane.” he said.

“As I posted on Twitter, this could have been a heck of a lot worse, and there’s only so many people who can say, ‘Well, we walked away from a plane crash.’ It was a tiny one, but it is what it is,” he added. “Like another passenger said, better on the ground than in the air.”

McKelvey says no one was aboard the military aircraft at the time.

“The incident is being investigated by WestJet and RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) authorities and will also involve the Transportation Safety Board,” he said.

“The RCAF is working to minimize the impact on fixed wing SAR within Search and Rescue Region Victoria. Rotary wing SAR coverage remains unaffected,” he added.

Multiple ambulances went to the airport, but no one was in need of treatment, according to a YYQ spokesperson.

The WestJet plane was bound for Edmonton, and was scheduled to leave Comox at 12:15 p.m. and arrive at Edmonton International Airport at 2:43 p.m.

No other flights were impacted by the collision, according to YQQ spokesperson.

SEE ALSO: WestJet CEO pledges fares will not rise due to airline mergers

The two planes involved in the crash are pictured. Aug. 9, 2023. (CHEK News)

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