Does This Look To You Like A “Hard Landing?”

Filed Under: Air Canada, Media

In terms of what’s quite possibly the most pathetic cover up I’ve seen for a plane “accident,” an Air Canada Airbus A320 crash landed in Halifax last night.

Photo courtesy TSB Canada

First and foremost, thank goodness that nobody seems to be critically injured. While some people went to the hospital, all but one have been released, and none seem to be in critical condition. Clearly this could have ended a lot worse than it did. Especially in light of the Germanwings tragedy, that’s a huge relief.

But what kind of leaves me shaking my head is how Air Canada and Halifax Airport are phrasing this accident/crash landing. After the incident last night, Air Canada Tweeted that the plane had “exited [the] runway upon landing:”


Now maybe I’m just way too lucky, but every time I’ve taken a flight it has also “exited the runway” upon landing!

Meanwhile a spokesperson for Halifax Stanfield International Airport said that “it was a hard landing, and the aircraft left the runway.” I don’t know if “leaving the runway” is Canadian nomenclature or something, but to me “leaving the runway” might just as well mean it taxied to the gate.

Now this is a hard landing (one which actually caused damage to the fuselage):

But when you clip “an antenna array,” lose your landing gear, and an engine gets disconnected from the plane, I think that hardly constitutes a “hard landing” or “exiting a runway.”

Is it just me?

  1. Agree that “hard landing” and “exited runway upon landing” aren’t the right terms. I mean, doesn’t every plane exit the the runway upon landing?!

  2. Not to mention the fact that the pax apparently had to exit via the overwing emergency exits. That seems a little bit different from having “deplaned” in the normal sense.

  3. The same was said of the NYC DL plane accident. Must be legal phrasing or something since it is so similarly used.

  4. Hard landing was the wrong term and this was inappropriately handled by air canada. They should have said it was a very difficult landing with low fuel that was thankfully not fatal due to their expert pilots.

    Ok – let the comments/refutes fly!…

  5. but isn’t there a difference between a hard landing almost breaking off the front section of the fuselage and landing softly but failing to stop because of icing on the runaway?!

  6. Some news reports are calling this a “hard landing” incident. This is what we refer to as an “off-field” landing. Landing is one of the “critical phases” of flight. It is too early to identify a cause(s) but weather and pilot error most likely will be the contributing causes.
    Darkness and a snow-covered runway make it difficult for a pilot to land on the numbers. The wide, white bands at the beginning of the runway are a visual target for the pilot to know where to touch down. This plane landed 1,100 feet short of the end of runway markers and was his third attempt to land. The initial report was the airport was able to operate within minimum landing requirements but I am sure this will be looked at to.

  7. The a320 touched down 1100 feet short of the runway at Halifax…I guess by Air Canada’s definition, Asiana #214 at SFO was also a “hard landing”.

  8. @Benjamin

    At least at LGA, they actually did land correctly on the runway then subsequently skidded off it. In this case, the plane crashed into the ground over 1000 ft short and under no control happened to come to rest on tarmac.

  9. When the dust settles from the TSB investigation, there’s no doubt in my mind that there will be plenty of blame apportioned around. AC has been (some blend of) skilled and fortunate to not have an aircraft loss since Fredericton in 1997, another zero-fatality off-runway arrival. AC and their passengers were incredibly lucky in both incidents not to have worse outcomes, because once random physics takes over, anything can happen.

    Both that incident and this have some real similarities in exposing a real lack of emergency preparedness in small to mid-size Canadian airports. In Fredericton, passengers had to hike back to the terminal to summon help. In Halifax, emergency crews arrived quickly, but uninjured passengers had to wait on the runway for nearly an hour before being taken inside.

    And finally, the whole spin game as to what to call it, between the media wanting to call it a crash, and AC wanting to call it anything but that, is really to the side of the point. There’s a broken airplane on the runway, some wounded people, but as far as I know everyone walked away. And that’s what I’ve always heard described as a successful landing.

  10. @AL

    JA610A was repaired since it was less than 10 years old and was back in service Dec 26 2012.

    Accident report.

    Currently on her way from HNL to HND today.

    Long forum report about the accident and other like it, not the first time something like this has happened with a B767

  11. I guess there are no crashes in aviation, just hard landings.
    Anyway, Air Canada must have done a great job covering this up, as this crash has got far less attention than similar accidents.

  12. At the same time, does it make sense to use the same word ‘crash’ to describe this as to describe the Germanwings disaster? Here, no fatalities. Can you imagine the mainstream media when they heard that ANOTHER A320 had crashed?

    I know that crash has a fairly clearly defined meaning in aviation but it’s also a very emotive word to the general public and that’s worth considering in press relations. Having said that, ‘hard landing’ is no good either. Many people call anything where they feel the nose wheel touch the tarmac a ‘hard/rough landing’.

  13. @Takke

    I think the word you are looking for is crash landing as you got the plane down without any heavy casualties, but the plane is unlikely to ever fly again due to the amount of damage.

    A hard landing is when you have to check and possibly repair the plane before flying it again.

  14. Well, it WAS a “hard landing” – you cannot call it soft and the aircraft definitely ended up on land.

    As someone above mentioned “crash landing” would be more accurate, but it contains the c word.

  15. It’s not just you, Lucky! As the practice of Journalism shrinks while Corporate Communications and Public Relations departments expand, we are frequently subjected to “spin” rather than facts in the media. I watched the coverage on CTV throughout the day and at first they used the Press Release term of “hard landing”, but switched to “crash landing” later on. Unfortunately as news departments continue to be squeezed by cost cuts, they often resort to using “content” that is fed to them by PR departments rather than practice journalism. Thankfully someone at CTV eventually realized their viewers deserved more than to have their intelligence insulted. As unsettling as it is for people to hear that a plane had a crash landing, I don’t think mass delusion is a good alternative. We can at least be thankful for advances in aircraft construction and safety systems that contributed to no fatalities and only minor injuries; this may not have been the case in the past. That’s the good news story here!

  16. I’m thinking of wind shear. No pilot is consciously landing a plane 350 meters short of runway. This is purely speculation though and I could be wrong.

  17. Sadly, I fell victim of this re-branding effort. Saw the headline on BBC “Plane exited runway in Canada” and ignored it assuming they skidded off by 10-15ft and the media was gleaming onto anything aircraft related. This picture tells the real story.

  18. While I agree “hard landing” might be a bit of a stretch, any landing you can walk away from is a good landing.

  19. Sorry – misquoted a bit. The actual quote is “If you can walk away from a landing, it’s a good landing. If you use the airplane the next day, it’s an outstanding landing.”

  20. Clowns more interested in spinning than ensuring safety — AC has been lucky one too many times. As Pam Ann would say, “Tick tock.”

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