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Midair Emergency — We’re Out Of Fuel

Air Canada Boeing 767 on the ground at Gimli air force base after its unscheduled landing

1983: The “Gimli glider” was the nickname given to an Air Canada Boeing 767 that made a forced landing at Gimli, in Manitoba, after running out of fuel in midair.

On 23 July, halfway between Montreal and Edmonton, one of the engines of Flight 143 lost power, and shortly after, the other. The pilot put the airliner into a glide and headed for the disused air force base at Gimli.

When the plane hit the runway, the nose wheel collapsed and the plane skidded to a bumpy halt. None of the 69 passengers and crew was seriously hurt.

The cause of the emergency? Air Canada was switching from imperial to metric units. When calculating the amount of fuel in the plane’s tanks, and how much needed to be loaded, the wrong conversion factor was used. Flight 143 took off from Montreal with only half the fuel it needed to reach Edmonton.

Source: Stanley Stewart, Emergency: Crisis on the Flight Deck (2002), pp. 91–103

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