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Technical issue on British Airways flight forces precautionary landing at Halifax Stanfield

Boeing 787 en route to London diverted to Halifax

2 min read
British Airways flight 216 sits at the arrival gate. It is dark outside and there is snow on the ground. The photo is taken through the window of the airport.
caption British Airways flight 216 at the arrival gate at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, Wednesday.
Paul John Bayfield

A British Airways flight was diverted to Halifax on its way to Heathrow airport in London after the airline reported a technical issue on board.

Flight 216 departed Dulles International Airport, near Washington, D.C., at 6:49 p.m Eastern Time and was only in the air for about an hour and a half before landing in Halifax Wednesday night.

One passenger on the flight was Paul John Bayfield, a photojournalist from the U.K.

“I got up just to use the bathroom quickly, and immediately it was clear that the air brakes on the aircraft had been deployed because there was rapid deceleration,” he said. “You wouldn’t expect it at that altitude because we were at 40,000 feet and they were immediately on the brakes.”

After that, the pilot informed passengers they would be landing in Halifax, Bayfield said. 

“The crew then put on their fluorescent gear and started directing people to their seats — they just went into drill mode,” he said. “There were reports of a lot of people seeing and smelling smoke.”

The aircraft touched down safely at 9:30 p.m. and proceeded to the terminal, said Leah Batstone, a spokesperson for the Halifax International Airport Authority.

“Our emergency response services team was prepared to respond if required,” she said. The plane was evacuated safely, she said. 

Upon reaching the terminal, a crew came aboard with forward looking infrared cameras (FLIR), which Bayfield said he immediately recognized from his work.

“They were looking for hotspots behind panels,” he said. “So it was definitely an electrical short or an issue of that nature.”

The plane was a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, manufactured in 2016. Boeing did not immediately respond when contacted for a statement.

A British Airways spokesperson stated in an email the flight did not make an emergency landing but landed “as a precaution due to a technical issue.”

We apologize to customers for the disruption to their journey and we’re working hard to get them on their way as quickly as possible,” the email reads.

The airline was sending another aircraft to take passengers to London. Bayfield said their new flight has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

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Ella Macdonald

Ella Macdonald (she/her) is an aspiring video reporter and photojournalist with an interest in world affairs and health reporting. Originally...

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