TSB probes smoky flight

UPDATE: 11:10 a.m.

Investigators with the Transportation Safety Board are being sent to Vancouver Island to determine why thick smoke suddenly filled the cabin of a commuter plane travelling to Nanaimo.

A news release from the board says a team will gather information and assess what happened Tuesday afternoon onboard WestJet Encore flight 3161.

The Bombardier Q400 turboprop with 56 passengers and two crew aboard had almost completed its short hop from Vancouver to Nanaimo when smoke began wafting into the cabin.

Passenger Addison Becker says as conditions became smokier, the plane descended quickly.

It landed safely after the pilot declared an emergency, a procedure a spokeswoman for WestJet says establishes priority landing and also summons emergency vehicles.

She says all passengers and crew fled the aircraft minutes after it touched down and no one was hurt.

Becker said passengers remained calm despite increasingly smoky conditions, but people pushed for the exits once the doors had been thrown open.

"It was freaky but it wasn't the worst thing that could happen," he said.

The plane was to fly on to Comox and then back to Vancouver, but those legs of the flight were cancelled.

– The Canadian Press

UPDATE 7 a.m.

Transport Canada will deploy a team of investigators to Nanaimo to investigate after smoke filled the cabin of WestJet flight from YVR to Nanaimo airport.

ORIGINAL 3:06 p.m.

A WestJet flight from Vancouver made an emergency landing in Nanaimo, Tuesday, after the cabin filled with smoke.

The Bombardier Q400 turboprop landed safely and was met by first responders at Nanaimo Airport after it began filling with smoke minutes before it was scheduled to land.

"You could smell the smoke, and after a couple minutes you could see the haze," a passenger told CTV.

"They stopped short of the tarmac here and had us all bail out, basically. They said it was an emergency situation, and had us clear the plane and get off the runway, off into the field there."

No one was injured, and the flight staff "did a really good job, stayed calm," said passenger Marci Pimlott.

There's no word on what caused the smoke.

– with files from CTV Vancouver Island

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