A lone yachtsman adrift 275 miles out from the Australian coastline has been rescued thanks in no small part to help from a commercial airliner.
Air Canada flight AC033 was approaching Sydney on Tuesday October 16, 2012 at 8:15am (local time) when the crew were asked to help in the search for a yachtsmen.
The sailor had left Pittwater two weeks earlier but had got into trouble as he headed for Eden on the New South Wales south coast.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) asked the Air Canada Boeing 777-200LR aircraft if they could help after receiving a distress call from the yachtsman who was without a mast and low on fuel. An Air New Zealand A320 bound for Sydney from from Auckland was also asked to help.
The crews confirmed they had sufficient fuel and headed out to the area 275 miles east of Sydney.
The Air Canada pilots informed passengers what was going on and asked any with binoculars to help with the search.
The plane, registration C-FIUJ, swooped down to as low as 3,500ft after the crew thought they saw something from a higher altitude.
A number of passengers and the crew spotted the man and realised that this was indeed the yachtsman in distress.
The crew were able to report the yacht’s position to Air Traffic Control, a police vessel was then able to rescue the man who is said to be in good spirits.
Flight AC033 from Vancouver to Sydney eventually touched down at 00:20 local time – a delay of around 90 minutes.
Air Canada were delighted to have been of help – “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.
The image below show the Air Canada aircraft finally approaching Sydney.