(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

Former Capitals invited to NHL development camps

Three ex-BCHL players join Duncan product at summer training sessions

Cowichan papers are national award winners

Reporter Sarah Simpson was recognized twice for her efforts

Drought alert posted for Koksilah and Chemainus Rivers

Around the Cowichan region hot, dry weather is drying up tributary streams as well

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face Cowichan challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and even ate blueberry pie on Day 3

92-year-old Duncan man a fundraising dynamo

Duncan’s Fred Konkin does his bit to help charities

VIDEO: Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

Justin Trudeau shuffles his front bench Wednesday to install the roster of ministers that will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election.

Grizzly bear jumps in river, chases B.C. kayaker

The bear got a bit too close for comfort along the Elaho River near Squamish

Island man convicted of 1999 sex assault at Fraser Valley music festival

James Allen Redden, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty of three charges

Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

A plan is in place to produce 10-year plans designed to turn around sagging attendance figures

B.C. poet shines a bright light on struggle with homelessness

Book launch for John La Greca’s Homeless Memorial is at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo July 21.

Ontario police say attack on Muslim man was motivated by hate

Two men, aged 27 and 19, have been charged with assault in the incident

City orders largest Kinder Morgan protest camp to leave

Residents of Camp Cloud near the Trans Mountain work site have 72 hours to leave

14-year-old pilot attempts to break Guinness World Record at B.C. airport

Mohd Shaikhsorab wants to become youngest pilot with fewest hours logged to fly solo

Price no guarantee for safety with horse riding helmets: new report

A Swedish insurance report reveals that many brands of equestrian helmets do not protect riders as well as they could.

Most Read