How often do you participate in a rescue mission while traveling? Our passengers onboard AC033 enroute to Sydney, Australia had a unique experience! On Tuesday October 16, 2012 at 8:15am (Sydney time), just as flight AC033 was arriving near its final destination, the crew received a request for help from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). They were asked to locate a yacht that had sent out a distress call earlier. Our pilots confirmed that they had sufficient fuel to undertake this, and headed out to an area 275 miles east of Sydney.
As our Boeing 777-200LR flew over the area at 4,000 feet, a reflection from a mirror shining upwards was noticed. The crew borrowed binoculars from customers, and also engaged passengers sitting on the right side of the cabin to help search. The yacht in distress was spotted, in fairly rough seas, de-masted with a person standing on top – which was also seen by a number of passengers! The aircraft flew over so that the occupant knew it had been located and advised Air Traffic Control of the yacht’s position. The aircraft then proceeded to SYD, landing approximately 90 minutes after scheduled arrival.
When AC033 landed, social media feedback (quickly followed by regular media) was instantaneous:
— Grant Lawrence (@GrantLawrence) October 16, 2012
Air Canada crew, passengers help locate missing yacht off Australian coast: ow.ly/evOOj
— CTVNews (@CTVNews) October 16, 2012
“Congratulations go to the entire crew involved in this spontaneous and successful search and rescue mission, in particular Captain Andrew Robertson, First Officers Willie Cove and Richard Sava and Relief Pilot Mark Lawrysyn,” said Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada President and CEO. “Their immediate response to this albeit unusual call for help reflects highly on their own values and skills and also demonstrates that wherever Air Canada flies, safety and integrity are core values that we proudly live by.”