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Plane skids off runway, TSB examining weather conditions

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Saturday, February 25, 2017, 6:39 PM - The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause behind why an Air Canada airplane arriving at Pearson International Airport in Toronto slid off the runway early Saturday morning.

The province experienced wet and foggy conditions with a few unseasonal rumbles of thunder at the time and officials say they are not ruling out that weather may have played a role in the incident.

Air Canada Flight AC623 from Halifax was touching down at Pearson Airport when it left the runway. No injuries were reported, and the 112 passengers aboard were deplaned and taken into Terminal 1.

Photos from the scene show the aircraft, an Airbus A320, with landing gear intact, but with mud splashed up onto its fuselage.

"The whole of the undercarriage on my side, on the left-hand side, when we took a look while we were deplaning, was destroyed," passenger Paul Varian told CBC News. "The tires were completely gone off the wheel."

Varian told the news agency most people were calm throughout the incident.

Image: John Hanley.

Image: John Hanley.

IN PICTURES: Photos of the Air Canada plane crash in Halifax from 2015

He said the landing was hard enough that some oxygen masks were deployed, but not hard enough to be "traumatically heavy."

"We just landed quite heavily on the tarmac and the plane lurched a bit to the left. Then the pilot applied heavy brakes. That threw everyone forward a bit," he told the network.

The aircraft was finally towed off the runway at around 10:40 a.m., and Pearson Airport tweeted the runway was being inspected and cleaned up before reopening. The airport says there are no delays as a result of the incident.

"Our focus was our passengers that were quickly bused to the airport and met by and tended to by a team of Air Canada employees and managers," Isabelle Arthur, media relations manager for Air Canada told CBC. "We apologize for the inconvenience and will be in touch with our customers to follow up on the event and ensure they are all well taken care of."

According to Julie Leroux, spokesperson for the Transportation Safety Board, two investigators remain on scene.

"The investigators on site will examine the aircraft," she told CBC. "They will collect data. They will ask for the data recorder, also call the black box. They will take photos of the investigation. They will conduct interviews with witnesses and the company."

Fog was widespread across southwestern Ontario Friday night, including the Greater Toronto Area, and some areas saw periods of rain as a front moved through. It is not clear if the conditions contributed to the accident, though Flight Aware records of the plane's route suggest it had been in a holding pattern prior to landing in Toronto.

RELATED: 21 hospitalized due to turbulence aboard Air Canada flight from Shanghai to Calgary

The conditions, unseasonably warm for February, helped spark several thunderstorms, with severe thunderstorm warnings briefly in place in the southwest. Earlier Friday evening, Pearson Airport tweeted that lightning may cause some flight delays.

Air Canada flight crashed in Halifax in 2015

An Air Canada flight was involved in a much more serious incident in Halifax in March 2015.

Flight AC624 from Toronto made a crash landing at Robert Stanfield airport with 138 passengers and crew aboard. The plane suffered considerable damage, and 25 people were sent to hospital. The plane was attempting to land in snowy conditions, though the Transportation and Safety Board lists the incident as still under investigation.

WATCH BELOW: Crash landing in Netherlands captured on video inside plane

SOURCES: CBC News | Flight Aware

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