Emergency landing in Varadero: Canadian pilot hailed as heroine (+ video)

A Canadian Sunwing Airlines flight made an emergency landing in Varadero due to landing gear problems. The pilot of the plane was hailed as a heroine in Cuba, while the story received little attention in Canada.

The plane, operated by Canadian Sunwing Airlines, made an emergency landing at Juan Gualberto Gomez International Airport in Varadero (western Cuba) last week (26), state media reported.

Sunwing’s Boeing 737 – with 190 passengers – encountered a left landing gear problem en route from Abel Santamaria Airport in the city of Santa Clara (central Cuba) to Montreal (Canada).

Although the story received little attention in and of Canada, the plane’s pilot, Vicki Arkes, was hailed as a heroine in Cuba, and the story was widely reported by local government media. Arches is shown in some Cuban accounts with a painting presented to him in recognition of his peace.

“The plane made maneuvers in the province of Matanzas until it landed the passengers and crew. The passengers are already getting off the plane. This is good news after several minutes of tension.” Garib TV reported.

The emergency landing “was successfully completed due to failure to retract the landing gear as planned,” a Cuban Airways (ECNA) source was quoted as saying by the official Cubatpad website.

It also indicated that “all specified procedures were carried out and the pilot was able to carry out a successful manoeuvre”, adding that “Hundreds of Juan Gualberto airport workers and firefighters worked to safely evacuate all passengers from the terminal at Cuba’s second most important airport.

The cause of the landing gear problem on takeoff is unknown. Cuban TV footage showed damage to the left landing gear’s outer tire, but no other apparent damage.

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According to the Aviation Safety Network, the Boeing 737-800 had a broken window problem in September 2022 and an autopilot problem in November 2019, but both problems have been resolved.

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