- Publish Date
- Thursday, 17 September 2015, 3:14PM
An Air Canada pilot was declared a hero after he decided to divert a packed passenger jet to save the life of a pet dog being carried in the aircraft's hold after the cargo area's heating system failed.
The jet was travelling between Tel Aviv and Toronto when a warning light flashed in the cabin that the heater in the cargo hold was not functioning.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner was about to cross the Atlantic when the system failed, meaning temperatures in the cargo hold could drop below freezing.
According to regulations, hold's ambient temperature must be at least 10c when the aircraft is carrying animals.
As a result, the pilot decided to lose altitude and divert to Frankfurt International Airport, which is a major hub for Air Canada.
It is understood that the decision to divert the jet would have cost an additional $10,000 in fuel, but the French bulldog, Simba, 7, would have probably not survived the long ocean crossing in sub zero temperatures.
The aircraft was delayed for 75 minutes while Simba and his owner German Kontorovich were unloaded to catch a later flight, with a working heater.
Air Canada's Peter Fitzpatrick told City News: 'As soon as the crew became aware of the temperature issue, the captain grew rightfully concerned for the dog’s comfort and well-being. With the altitude it can become very uncomfortable, and possibly the situation could have been life-threatening if the flight had continued.
'Frankfurt was a good choice due to proximity, the fact there are multiple Air Canada flights (and flights by our partner Lufthansa) to Canada each day, and also because the airport can turn aircraft quickly, meaning there would be little time on the ground.
'While we recognize this was an inconvenience for our customers, the overall reaction was positive, particularly once people understood the dog was in potential danger but safe as a result of the diversion.'
The dog's owner German Kontrovich praised the pilot: 'It’s my dog, it’s like (my) child. It’s everything.'