The flight instructor who safely landed a small plane on the side of a busy Surrey highway during an emergency Friday evening is getting praise from his boss.
Traffic came to a crawl on Highway 17 near Tannery Road around 6:45 p.m. after the Cessna 152 Aerobat had to touch down on the shoulder of the road.
Canadian Flight Centre president and CEO Peter Schlieck said the instructor and a student had flown the plane out of Boundary Bay Airport for a lesson when he got a call.
WATCH: (Aired April 2, 2017) Plane makes emergency landing in Langley
“I rushed to the scene with a mechanic, but the plane was already secured on the side of the road,” Schlieck said Saturday. “He did a perfect job, no one was harmed and there wasn’t a scratch on the plane.
“It was a perfect landing.”
Schlieck said the plane lost a fuel cap from one of its wings, causing the fuel in the wing tank to siphon into the air until none was left. The instructor quickly took control after the problem arose.
The emergency landing could have proven deadly for drivers, but the instructor was able to manoeuvre the plane into a gap between two trucks, who saw what was happening above them.
“[The truck drivers] slowed down and blocked the highway, and he was able to land the plane,” Schlieck said. “It was fantastic, considering Highway 17 is a busy highway and it was close to rush hour.”
With the westbound lane shut down thanks to help from Surrey RCMP, the instructor was given enough room to bring the plane to a stop on the highway before safely disembarking along with the student.
Schlieck said some have compared the instructor to Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who safely landed his passenger jet in New York’s Hudson River without any injuries onboard after hitting a flock of geese and losing engine power.
“They said U.S. Airways has Sully … and we have Pedro,” he said.
After the Transportation Safety Board investigated and determined the cause, the plane was refuelled and a new cap was installed, allowing the plane to make its way back to the Boundary Bay Airport.
“We’re sorry a lot of commuters were a little bit slowed down by that, but overall it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Schlieck said.
Overall, Schlieck was just happy no one was hurt and that the student was able to experience a real-life problem in real time.
“The exercise turned into a practical lesson,” he said with a laugh. “Not one we want to repeat, but one we have to be ready for.”
—With files from Kristen Robinson