There were some interesting aviation developments earlier this month in the remote Arctic region of Canada, some of them captured on video. USA Today reports:
Swiss Flight 40 was headed from Zurich to Los Angeles, flying near Canada’s far north when it suffered a problem to one of its engines and diverted to Iqaluit.
“The real issue was they only had one engine, but despite that it was a smooth landing,” Iqaluit airport director John Hawkins said to the National Post of Toronto.
The temperature upon landing around 3 p.m. local time was -6F (-21C) before dropping into the -20s (-30C) during the overnight hours.
There's more at the link.
To make matters even more interesting, according to Aviation Herald, the Boeing 777 was too large to use the smaller taxiways at Iqaluit, and too big to turn around at the end of the runway. It had to wait almost an hour for a ground tug to make its way out to the aircraft, push it back to a main taxiway, then tow it to the terminal. (Indeed, I was surprised to learn that tiny Iqaluit had an airport capable of handling a 777, but on investigation, it turns out to have been built as a diversion airport for transpolar flights. That means it has to be able to handle the largest and heaviest aircraft in emergency.)
The fun started with the single-engine approach and landing of the big 777. It was captured on video by a local planespotter.
Next came the problem of how to get a spare engine to Iqaluit. The 777's General Electric GE90 engines are massive, requiring a very wide bodied freight aircraft to accommodate their girth.
In this case, Swiss International Air Lines chartered an Antonov An-124 freighter to carry a spare engine, tools and technicians from Zurich, Switzerland, to the Arctic. This report shows its arrival at Iqaluit, and the fitting of the new engine.
The Antonov remained on the ground with the 777 for four days (at a pretty substantial daily charter rate, I'm sure) while the new engine was unloaded, fitted to the 777 and tested, and the damaged engine loaded aboard the freighter. According to the Aviation Herald, both aircraft finally departed on February 8th, the 777 back to Zurich and the Antonov to the UK, presumably to take the damaged engine to a repair center.
A GE90 engine costs between $30 and $40 million, according to different sources, so this one will almost certainly be repaired rather than replaced. The costs of doing so, for such a complex piece of engineering, are likely to be at least a few million dollars. Add to that the other costs involved - chartering the Antonov for several days, plus the expense of flying it from Europe to the Canadian Arctic and back; sending another aircraft to collect the passengers from the original flight and get them to their destination, Los Angeles; repairs and local fees in Iqaluit; the return flight to Zurich; the loss of revenue while the 777 was out of service; and other incidentals - and the total bill for this little problem might be as high as $30 to $40 million in the long term. Of course, most of that should be covered by insurance, but it's still a pretty penny. I daresay Swiss's accountants are still adding up the numbers, with doleful looks on their joint and several faces.