A Porter Airlines Bombardier Q400 was forced to make an emergency landing in Sydney, Nova Scotia on Monday amid passenger complaints about the lack of onboard emergency masks.
The aircraft was on a flight from Halifax to St. John’s when smoke started filling the cabin from the front of the aircraft. The flight crew declared an emergency and headed for Sydney.
On the way down, the crew told passengers to breathe through the cloth headrest covers on the seats to mitigate the smoke exposure.
Some passengers wondered about the lack of drop-down masks but apparently confused their purpose. The masks are used in response to decompression of the cabin in aircraft that fly above 25,000 feet. The supplemental oxygen is needed because of the time it takes an aircraft to descend to breathable air at 14,000 feet.
In fact, it’s unlikely the crew would have deployed masks even if they were available. The oxygen would feed a fire and likely cause a lot more danger to the aircraft occupants than the smoke.
The source of the smoke hasn’t been released and Transport Canada is investigating.