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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dion's campaign plane forced to land

Uh oh... the Liberal campaign aircraft was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Montreal today while enroute from Quebec to London, due to the failure of one of the onboard generators.

Bad polls, a grumbing caucus, and now a malfunctioning aircraft... seems like Team Dion just can't get a good break.
Did Dion's ProfessAir run out of carbon credits?
Updated Tue. Sep. 16 2008 8:48 PM ET
Robert Fife, Ottawa Bureau Chief

The Liberals' Air Inuit ran into trouble after leaving Sherbrooke, Quebec.

The plane had to make an unscheduled landing in Montreal to fix what the pilot called "a slight problem."

Liberal officials say one of the plane's two generators was losing power and the pilot was forced to land in Montreal.

The decades old aircraft was headed to London, Ontario when shortly after take off, the lights went out in the cabin.

One reporter on the plane joked that the plane was running out of carbon credits.
UPDATE: Has been picked up by The Globe & Mail, with more details...
Liberal plane makes unscheduled landing in Montreal
From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
September 16, 2008 at 9:30 PM EDT

Stéphane Dion's campaign plane, a headache from the start, had to stop for an unscheduled landing in Montreal Tuesday night when a generator lost power.

Mr. Dion, his campaign team, and the travelling reporters on his campaign plane were waiting on the tarmac, apparently destined for an unscheduled overnight stay in Montreal.

The Liberal campaign plane was on a flight from Sherbrooke, Que., to London, Ont., when the lights in the cabin went off and the pilot announced an unscheduled stop because of a “slight problem.”

Mr. Dion's communications director, Mark Dunn, said the plane has two generators, and one lost some power during the flight. The pilots decided to land to have it fixed; it appeared the repairs would take several hours.

Mr. Dion's 30-year-old Air Inuit was the last one snagged by any party, as the Liberals, apparently caught off guard by the snap election call, had to scramble to locate a campaign jet.

The B737-200 has been criticized as a gas guzzler that does not fit Mr. Dion's green platform. The Liberals, fending off stories that they were disorganized and could not get a plane, bragged that it has a gravel kit that allows it to land in remote areas with gravel airstrips.

With the plane downed, Liberal staffers started helping flight attendants serve drinks as reporters, staffers and politicians waited to see if they were staying or going.

The Liberal plane had once been owned by a Saudi Arabian oil company. Most recently with Air Inuit it was used for cargo flights and evacuation flights, and comes equipped with a gravel kit so it can land on gravel airstrips.

Reporters dubbed the plane “profess-air” a nod to the criticism Mr. Dion has taken in Tory attack ads for being a nerdy professor. CTV national reporter Lisa Laflamme came up with the name.

Along with crew costs, the on-board mechanics and catering and its age, it costs between $18,000 and $20,000 an hour to fly. It is about 35 per cent less efficient than the Conservative and NDP planes.

Mr. Dion had expressed concern in a recent interview that the plane is more polluting than he had hoped. But the Liberals are buying credits to offset carbon emissions.

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