Even though the story was given very little media coverage, and almost no investigative follow up, a near tragedy was averted on March 6, 2005 when Canadian Air Transat Flight 961 developed mechanical problems 30 minutes north of Cuba.
The captain of Flight 961 realized that the rudder of the plane had become disabled as the plane went into a steep dive, and immediately requested an emergency landing at Fort Lauderdale International Airport, the closest airport. Inexplicably, and in violation of international aviation treaties and law, America refused permission for the Canadian jet to execute an emergency landing! That’s right, you read correctly. The Air Transat plane was denied an emergency landing by the United States.
Some people might think that there must have been a ‘communication problem’ or a ‘misunderstanding’ but that is simply not the case. Here is what the captain announced to the passengers when he was denied the landing:
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a minor problem with the aircraft but the American authorities have denied us landing permission in Florida. We are therefore returning to Cuba and should be landing in about 40 minutes.”
Due to the rudder and stabilizer damage, the aircraft had to land as straight as possible to avoid any lateral strain. The captain made an 180º turn towards Cuba, which put incredibly strain on the already damaged rudder. Any slight miscalculation during the turn and exceeding the stress limits on the damaged stabilizer, would have plunged 270 people into the swamps of Florida. Fortunately it didn’t happen.
For a moment, think the unthinkable. Suppose the plane had gone down, which was a distinct possibility. What would have happened and what would we know?
Add a few American dead, or perhaps several hundred to the Canadian body parts strewn on the ground. The cockpit voice recorder would have gone crashing into the swamp, right in the middle of Jeb Bush’s jurisdiction and may have never been found. If that were the case, then we would have never known what was said during those last ‘fateful’ moments in the cockpit.
Instead, we have 270 Canadians who heard the refusal-to-land message from their ‘American neighbours’ via the captain?
If the plane had gone down would the Americans have called a press conference and admitted that they refused an emergency landing to a Canadian plane? Would they have taken responsibility for the tragedy?
If the plane had gone down the ‘terrible tragedy’ would have generated enormous adverse publicity for Airbus in general which supplies Air Transat, and in particular, for the maiden flight of the giant double-decker Airbus A380 ‘Super Jumbo’ scheduled for mid April, 2005.
However, that adverse publicity would have been good news for Boeing, the American ‘flagship’, whose sales have been low, its technology outdated and its financial position, tenuous. Boeing is currently being bailed out by a $23 Billion contract with the Pentagon.
Do you ever get the feeling that we are pawns in the middle of a global game of chess? We are blips on a screen and sometimes the blips disappear. Decisions are being made everyday in the interest of war, money and power.
The American neocons could care less about the value of human life; we are all expendable in their view. Look at all the young American soldiers whose lives have been needlessly terminated or ruined in Iraq. Also, what about the hundreds of thousands of deaths of Iraqi and Afghani civilians?
It doesn’t matter that Canada opened its arms to American travellers on September 11, 2001. It doesn’t matter to the American administration that we live side by side.
Increasingly, those countries that oppose American interests are being punished in the most devious ways one can imagine.
I’m anxious to hear the ‘official story’ from the White House on this one. I’m also anxious to hear the official response from the Canadian government on this breach of international aviation law?
The research for this article was obtained primarily from a report by Joe Vialls, a retired pilot and member of the Society of Aircraft Engineers & Technologists. Click here to visit Mr. Vialls website, Vialls Investigations, Exposing Media Disinformation.