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WestJet Encore Dash 8 Returns To Calgary Over Hydraulic Issues

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On October 7th, a hydraulic leak forced a WestJet Encore Dash 8 to return to Calgary shortly after its departure. The aircraft’s crew received multiple fault warnings, and a go-around was required on the first landing attempt. The Dash 8 was subsequently grounded, but has since returned to full active service.

WestJet Encore Dash 8-400
The WestJet Encore DHC Dash 8-400 suffered a hydraulic leak following its departure from Calgary. Photo: WestJet

Who is WestJet Encore?

WS3171 is a scheduled Canadian domestic flight between Calgary, Alberta (YYC) and Comox, British Columbia (YXX). It is operated by WestJet Encore, a regional subsidiary of Canada’s second-largest airline: WestJet.

The carrier is the world’s fourth-largest operator of the DHC Dash 8-400 turboprop airliner, and its fleet consists solely of 47 such aircraft. According to Planespotters.net, 17 of these are currently in storage. This is due to the drop in passenger demand caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Their average age is just over five years old.

What happened?

Flight WS3171 is scheduled to take just under two hours, departing Calgary at 10:00 MDT and arriving at Comox at 10:59 PDT. On October 7th, it was operated by C-GEEN, which was delivered to WestJet Encore in July 2015 with a 78-seat all-economy configuration. The flight departed at 10:16, but was back on the ground in Calgary just 36 minutes later at 10:52. But what was the reason for its return to the departure airport?

According to The Aviation Herald, the flight was around 130 miles west of Calgary and traveling at 24,000 feet when its crew received multiple fault indications. These were reported to be for “pitch trim, elevator feel, roll spoiler outboard ground, spoiler outboard, #2 rudder hydraulic and rudder controls.” The crew also observed empty hydraulic fluid indications

WS3171 07Oct20
The flight-path of WS3171 on October 7th, 2020. Image: FlightRadar24.com

Following consultation with maintenance and dispatch, the crew of flight WS3171 decided to return to Calgary. This in itself was not without difficulty, as the first landing attempt resulted in a go-around, as is visible on the map above. This was due to an “unsafe gear indication.” The second attempt, however, was successful. The aircraft was then able to taxi to the apron without further incident.

According to data on FlightRadar24.com, the aircraft involved was grounded for four days following the incident. Its first flight afterward was on October 11th, namely WS3103, between Calgary and Nanaimo, British Columbia (YCD).

WestJet 737 MAX 8
WestJet, the parent company of WestJet Encore, is Canada’s second-largest airline. Photo: Getty Images

Other WestJet Encore incidents this year

This incident is not the first in recent memory involving WestJet Encore. Simple Flying has also reported on the following incidents over the past 12 months:

  • October 19th, 2019 – WS3537 returned to Toronto shortly after takeoff due to a hydraulic failure. The leak was discovered to have occurred in the aircraft’s right-hand engine.
  • January 31st, 2020 – WS3107 suffered a nose gear collapse while landing in Terrace, British Columbia. The airline confirmed that no injuries occurred as a result of the incident.
  • March 31st, 2020 – The landing of WS3538 in Montreal was hindered by “unmanageably stiff” controls. The flight crew eventually found that the stiffness only affected the co-pilot’s side after disconnecting the aircraft’s shared controls. As such, the flight was able to land safely.

What are your experiences flying on WestJet and/or its subsidiaries? Have you ever been on a flight that has had to divert/return to its departure airport? Let us know in the comments.



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